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Last week after showing the Invisible Children documentary at ikon, Brian asked the crowd of twenty-somethings to brainstorm a little about what could be done for the children of Northern Uganda.

The first five solutions offered were...

1. Government.

2. Government.

3. Government

4. Government and capitalism.

5. Government.

It struck me as odd that a group of mostly Christians attending church services mostly regularly for most of their lives would think first of government and capitalism when confronted with the suffering of kids in Uganda.


Here in America many of us Christians say we believe the Church should help those in need. (Though the government still does most of that for us.) Yaweh is our God here. But when faced with the problems of, say, Uganda, it becomes evident that He's not or that He can't get a visa to work outside the U.S.

We believe in Yaweh enough to answer questions like "Where should we go when we need help?" with "God" and "Church." But not enough to answer "Where should THEY go?" in the same way.

Justin's words, posted here, typify this thinking. (Or seem to) When I asked Justin what the Ugandan Church was doing about the problems of Uganda and whether Invisible Children was aiding the Church in that work, he said the Church in Uganda wasn't doing much - they're too poor. Then he sent this in an e-mail: "...about the churches lack of response to this war, know that it is my opinion based on being there and talking with many pastors. Invisible Children has no comment on this subject as we have no intention to look into it. "

"No intention to look into it." No intention to aid our Family in Uganda, to meet their needs, to help them become the army of peace makers and mercy showers they were saved to be. Best to call on our God's people: Senators.

The problem with calling on government first is that it often becomes the only call we make. And so I wonder if Lesslie Newbigin was right in claiming "the nation has taken the place of God...governments are widely assumed to be responsible for and capable of providing those things which former generations thought only God could provide - freedom from fear, hunger, disease and want - in a word: 'happiness' " (THE OTHER SIDE OF 1984: QUESTIONS FOR THE CHURCHES pp.13-15)

When asked "Where should they go?" or "What can be done for them?" do you answer the way you do when asked "Where do you go?"

PS. I'm not picking on ikon people. I love 'em. I know they know that because they know me, but you don't, so thought I'd clarify. We had a good discussion that will continue about what the Church's response should be to Uganda. And they're more open than I was at their age to learning a new way of helping the world and thinking about Church.

PSS. I support the work of Invisible Children. I wish they were partnering more intimately with the Church in Uganda - that's no secret to them or you - but I also know they are doing tremendous good in Uganda and could use your help and prayers.


Blogger Shaun Groves said...

I'm not going to be blogging for the next couple days. Vacation time with my family. I won't even take a computer along with me.

I hope without me butting in great discussion will happen on this post. Am I off? If I'm not, how do we change our reliance on government before Church? How do we rich Christians (That's you if you're in the US) help the less rich Church around the world? Who's helping the Church worldwide connect? What else could be done?

And anything else...

See you in a few,

Blogger Jules said...

I understand your questions on the hesitation of the church. I, too, feel we as Christians should extend our wealth to the local body there. This will bring the population relief and a chance for discipleship. This all seem to hinge on their government and it's strength to fight the rebels who are doing the attacking. My question about government involvement then is can our government even do something to help bring justice or protection so more churches are willing to go over?
What organizations are in place that are refuges just for the children? Are they church based or are they only providing food?

Blogger euphrony said...

Honestly, I can understand why Yahweh cannot seem to get a visa. He is a divisive deity at the center of a divisive religion. Who would want to handle the application? Who would want to process His entry into a country? I can imagine the conversation now:

Customs Agent: Next! Passport and visa, please.
Yahweh: Here you are, my child.
Agent: What is your country of origin?
Yahweh: The kingdom of heaven.
Agent: Where is that? What continent?
Yahhew: It is everywhere.
Agent: Irregular. That won’t be good enough. We’ll come back to that. What is your name?
Yahweh: I AM. The Hebrews call me Yahweh, the Christians Jehovah, God, Christ, Jesus. You may call me Lord, Master, King, Creator, Savior, Father, etc.
Agent: Ah . . . okay. Are you bringing any contraband material or weapons into the country?
Yahweh: I created all weapons, all things, and the ideas for them. I have at my call the hosts of the heavens.
Agent: Alright, then . . . SECURITY!

But seriously, even in the U.S.A. the first thought of the common man, woman, and child is to look to the state for support. This was clearly evident in the havoc wrought from hurricanes Katrina and Rita last fall, as everyone sought to blame the government for lack of foresight and aid while never taking responsibility for some of there own lapses in forethought. The “burden” of charity and aid has been ceded to the welfare state as fewer and fewer people take individual action in the “joy” of giving from their abundance of time, toys, and cash. As bad company corrupts good morals, bad ideas have evidently seeped into the body of Christ and corrupted our instinctive response. (Side note on the welfare state: This idea is widely promoted by what is called the “left”, whether they use the name welfare state or not. These same people, who cry foul when the “right” seeks legislation to control abortion, homosexual marriage, etc. and object to these attempts at “legislating morality”, legislate morality in their own way by forcing people, through tax dollars, to do these good deeds at which they should already have been working.)

My answer as to what I do for them and what I tell them to do is, generally (most often, I hope), the same as when I am asked the question. I have missions and churches overseas that I support directly, not through my congregation and not through an organization but of my own volition. I have had them into my home, and have been in some of their homes as well. I pray for their work and their families and keep up with what they do. God does not work on us solely through middle men and third parties – He touches each of our, and their, lives constantly. Should we do any differently? Should we only work through a third party in aid, support, and encouragement? Have we modified the old catch phrase “I gave at the office” to be “I gave at the church”?

Blogger stephen said...

This is really on the simplistic side of things, but I believe that the problem may have started when the US government started emulating the compassion being shown by the Church. Once the Church saw that the government was doing things, I think like they felt like they no longer responsible and they backed off.

That being said, I would like to believe that if the government decided to end programs like welfare or job training, that the Church would be ready and willing to step up to the plate.

I don't know for certain, but in Uganda, I think the Church would jump at the chance to help if perhaps their work was "sanctioned" by the local government. While the government can't solve all the problems, in a situation like this, it's approval might go a long way.

Anonymous Amy said...

OK, personally my husband and I have been giving to charitable organizations only because we don't have a home church right now. We are attending a Baptist church while we work on a Lutheran church plant. We both grew up Lutheran, and it's been amazing to give monetarily to Habitat for Humanity, CCSC, LINC, and others. I think we will always give more to charitable organizations than to our church because you can help so many other people that way. I personally have enjoyed giving to a different group each month. I will definitely consider this organization this month. I think it's important to not only give money but also give time and talents. It's so rewarding to volunteer and see the smiling faces of the recipients. I have not done this enough in my life time.

I am involved in starting a new community church in Houston, TX, and we are all about community (obviously) and volunteering. We have a Service Sunday where we do yard work for free. We want to meet people, and this is an easy way to do it. And, people driving by are like what are those white folk doing cutting grass. It's a ritzy party of town, so it's hard to meet people that need help, but we have found a few. So, volunteering is the way to revolutionize the world. We could also get rid of money. A barter system would be so nice. Especially in the very low income part of the world. I know some African country has this humongous inflation right now and everyone there is fleeing. That is not how government is supposed to work. There needs to be a coup there to get that president/leader out of office.

Just my two cents.


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