Africa is not a hospice

Written by Adam Myers : October 17, 2008

Over the last few weeks governments around the world have been clamouring to rush money into failing financial systems in order to stave off the impending “economic crisis”. The American government passed a US$700 billion bill to try to sure up liquidity in credit markets.

It would only cost $82 billion (for 5 years) to meet all of the millennium development goals.

Almost half of the world’s population lives on less than $2 a day ($730 a year). The “economic crisis” is already here, and it has been here for a long time.

I would like to see world leaders justify their respective bail-out plans (or wars, unjust import tariffs, etc) to a child whose dying of an easily curable disease, to a prostitute desperate to scrap food together for her children, or to a wandering refugee forced out of his home because of international apathy.

The state of the world is a mess. The fact that we continue to build our mega-projects and quest after ever increasing supplies of wealth in the face of such extreme poverty is a disgrace. It is a blight on the human race that highlights so clearly our love of money and, therefore, hatred of fellow man.

Our only truly moral option is to bankrupt ourselves to fix this mess. Yet there is not one political leader in any party in the world who is willing to make a significant difference. We treat Africa like a hospice.

When will the west grow a spine? If we don’t arrive at the future together we wont arrive there at all.

We are an evil people. It’s not like we can plead ignorance. In our interconnected world we all have access to the evidence. Also, several noteworthy non-profit organisations are making sure we don’t miss it. The reality is that we are all insatiably greedy. We are willing to buy a bigger house, get a nicer car, and watch brand new blue rays on our extra large TVs, in a fruitless search for happiness or meaning, whilst billions of people die because they lack the most basic necessities: clean water, food, shelter, medicine, peace, and love.

So why not do something about it? There is no time for further excuses. God’s economy is built upon love rather than greed. It is selfless rather than selfish. That means that one day we will all be rich when the latent potential of every human is fully realised. But for today it means we will be poor.

We all spend money on useless things - daily coffee, DVDs, and books that we only read once. It is time we stopped wasting our money. We also all have things we don’t use or don’t need. Our houses are jammed full of stuff. It is time we sold it. That way we could raise ever increasing amounts of money to give to the dyeing.

Maybe, just maybe, we’ll find out that you can’t buy happiness after all - but you can give it away.

Author Bio:: Adam is an ordinary programmer from Australia trying to discover what it means to truly “take up your cross” and follow Christ whilst living in the middle of empire. He has a blog at Army of Priests.

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Viewing 8 Comments

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    You've touched my heart, brother. Lately, I've been more concsious of what I spend. I've been working on quitting a cigarette habit, not only because it is a harmful addiction, but because it is approximately 30 dollars per week that could be put to better use.
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    i found this article hard to read... it sounds like the same kinds of statistics with the same corresponding complaints i´ve read over and over again on blogs etc, but nothing more substantial. I am still not convinced that selling my stuff and giving the money to the dying is what I need to do here. It´s a start, to be sure, if for nothing else it serves to help us detatch from our materialism, but in doing that we have to also re-atatch to something... is it redistribution of wealth? Just give out the cash? I don´t know, but that just doesn´t sit right with me.
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    Obviously in a small article like this one I can't write a fully fledged manifesto about how to end world poverty. However, in general the problem is lack of will, not lack of ability. This is why so many people target our will to change over specific action.

    If you're looking for more in depth information or concrete ways we can make a difference I would recommend Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger by Ronald J. Sider, The Revolution: A field manual for changing your world (various authors), or Red Letters by Tom Davis.

    But ultimately, we are not going to make a difference until we want to.
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    This all sounds really good, but when you realize that we aren't redistributing wealth through this bailout, but rather creating money, two things come to mind.

    One, this bailout will not fix the economy.

    Two, using the same method of creating new money to finance things in Africa would not help them. It would cause massive inflation, and it would line the pockets of those who are holding the African people down to begin with.
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    You're absolutely right. That's why I didn't suggest that method.
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    Adam, I think sometimes we fail to really appreciate the mess we are in. It is quite true to say that those of us in the 'West' have wealth the really poor (which accounts for nearly half the world population) can barely imagine. What is less clear is how to make meaningful differences to the poor.

    As much as those living in absolute poverty are often tied into a trap, we are tied into a trap of wealth - which can be as difficult to see a way out of. Whilst giving money away might at first glance seem attractive, it also brings many complications - eg who are you going to give it to, how, where and why? You are right - we do need to downsize our living for the sake of the poor, but quite how we do that requires significant prayer and thought in my opinion.
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    I, for one, would like to see more cooperation between the churches in the more developed and wealthy nations and the churches in the poorer and less developed nations. And by cooperation, I mean an equal exchange between the two sides. I feel that it is far too common for wealthy churches to send missionaries or delegates to poorer churches and tell them, "this is how to solve your problems, do it our way and everything will get better." What I would rather see is a true dialogue where the church in the developing world could tell the church in the developed world what it needed to address the issues in it's area. Then the wealthier churches could simply try to provide them with the support needed. In my opinion, we need to let go of control and allow the poorer churches more latitude in how they deal with their issues.
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    I definitely agree Joel. We assume that being poor equals the inability to make good decisions. I've been living in South Africa for the last year I've seen what the western missionaries have created amongst the poor. It's a culture of health and wealth and killing of the African culture. I've walked into some of the bigger churches here and felt like I was transported back to the states. What needs to happen is an understanding of culture and trust in God's Spirit to do what He wants with the money we give. One part of church planting in foreign cultures is letting go and letting the culture and God define what type of church it must become to cater to that cultures needs. This includes finances, but since we have such a warped view of stewardship we can't seem to do that. If we can remember correctly in Jesus' parable of the talents, the guys who he rewarded played the odds with investments. They could have very well lost it all but they let go and got a return, while the other guy sat on it and horded it out of fear. He didn't trust that the money would do what it needed to do. Sounds a bit too familiar.


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