The boy on the front cover of the GMP 2016 Great Gifts catalogue is happy. He and his mates have had a good lunch, they have uniforms and they are enjoying their schooling. If you asked him why it was necessary for GMP to step in to make these things happen, he might say “because my grandfather doesn’t have enough money to send me to school” or “because the government doesn’t have much money” or “because of the fighting.” He would be right with all of these answers.
His grandfather does not have much money because he has lost his sons in the fighting, because he is too old to work hard and because he has many children to look after. The government does not have much money because there isn’t a lot of economic activity to tax in South Sudan and because much
of the money it does get is spent on fighting. When you ask why there is fighting, the answers will be many and complex – tribal jealousy, corruption, control of resources, international manipulation.
The causes of the flagging economy are also complex – fighting over control, underdeveloped industries, and unfair markets. In addition, if you ask why these things happen, part of the answer is that the rest of the world doesn’t send much money to help South Sudan get on its feet, and the rest of the world has an interest in the world’s newest country not doing too well economically. “We do not want competition for our own goods.”
So some of the causes behind the big hole that has to be plugged for our smiling friend on the cover to get a good lunch, a uniform and great schooling, happen far away from him, in countries like Australia. While this sounds a bit hard to take in and perhaps a bit scary, the good news is it means we can do something about it without leaving home!
One way to change the world without leaving home is to take up our God-given role as advocates for the poor. Proverbs 31:8- 9 encourages us to: Speak up
for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy. (NIV) On behalf of our smiling friend on the Great Gifts catalogue and his mates, Churches of Christ Overseas Aid (COCOA) has been advocating locally for the government and the World Food Programme in South Sudan to take greater responsibility for the school.
Another way to change the world without leaving home is to change our lifestyle to consume less. If everyone consumed like an Australian, we would need 4.8 planet Earths to keep us alive. Amos calls God’s people, living in a time not unlike our own, to change the way they live because their consumption means others don’t have enough (Amos 4:1; 6:4- 6). Jesus reminds us of another downfall of focusing on stuff – it can disconnect us from God (Luke 12:16-21).
Over this new series, Changing the World Without Leaving Home we will look at ways we can advocate from where we are, to make life-giving changes in the world. Changing the world without leaving home could change you too!