Carol Bremer-Bennett teaches how not to be a savior

Photo courtesy of the FIDC 2019 Conference Booklet.

The U.S. executive director of World Renew, Carol Bremer-Bennett, recalls, “You don’t get to save anybody; only Jesus saves. You are not a savior,”. Her husband spoke these words after a former student of hers at Rehoboth Christian School committed suicide. Bremer-Bennet considers this the year that she grappled with her “savior complex,” where she believed she had the power to save people by herself.

Bremer-Bennett brought her experiences to this year’s Faith and International Development Conference, “Beyond the Savior Complex,” where she spoke to the issues in how mission organizations often approach international development.

Bremer-Bennett applies this principle in all aspects of her life, from her former teaching career to her current position at World Renew to her five adopted children. She notes that “people who go into adoption thinking they’re saving children… get a real firm reality check.” Of her six children, five are adopted.

Alongside the lesson that she cannot save everyone, Bremer-Bennett shared another rule that she learned at Rehoboth Christian School: “Don’t do for others what they can do for themselves.” She described how mission organizations need humility to acknowledge they cannot do everything and to recognize that the people in developing countries have abilities of their own.

Recognizing the abilities that international communities have, World Renew focuses on working with the local churches to provide for the true needs of the communities and improve relations between the churches and their communities. This, she notes, has less tangible results than supplying goods or services, but leans into a guiding philosophy for her mission work, “Don’t try to be a savior, but rather, point to a Savior…”

Bremer-Bennett spoke at the Faith and International Development Conference on campus from February 7 through 9.