Certainly there is still much suffering and poverty in the world but nothing compares to the magnitude in sub-Sahara Africa. (See attached picture showing the Human Development Index 2007 created by the UN to measure poverty. Red and dark red are the least developed.)
If you take the whole globe and shake it until the “poorest of the poor“ nations drop out the bottom, the first 25 nations shaken out would all be in Africa!
They are: Uganda (25), Gambia, Senegal, Eritrea, Nigeria, Tanzania, Guinea, Rwanda, Angola, Benin, Malawi, Zambia, Côte d’Ivoire, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Chad, Central African Republic, Mozambique, Mali, Niger, Guinea-Bissau, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, (Somalia and Liberia should be on this list but are war-torn and unable to be monitored!)
If you take the “Bottom Billion” of humanity in terms of health care, longevity, economic ability, etc. 700 million of those inhabitants live in Africa. Economists write now of the “new third world”. It’s called sub-Sahara Africa. China and India no longer “qualify”.
Why are millions still dying in Africa every year?
“More people [10 million people] die every year of causes related to hunger and malnutrition than the total number who die of AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.” James Morris, chief executive of the U.N. World Food Programme.
This is the critical question!
For months as Maria and I have prayed about this “decades long tragedy” we have come to a word we feel is from the Lord: “the answers are all in the Gospels”. We believe that there are principles for poverty and generosity that still need to be uncovered and unpacked for Africa and the West.
Jesus’ life and teaching addresses poverty and giving in numerous cases. I would like to bring up just two examples from the Gospels.
1. In the parable of the Good Samaritan – to prove who is my neighbor – a man gets beaten and robbed by thieves and others passed by “on the other side”. A Samaritan was moved with compassion, however, and bandaged the injured man’s wounds and helped him with his own donkey and his personal finances. (Luke10)
Moral of the story: “Loving your neighbor will cost us.”
2. In the story of the Widow’s Mite, Jesus shows that Kingdom economy is not relative to the size of the offering but the sacrifice. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” (Luke 21:1-4)
Is there not a principle here for the West and for Africa?
Where do we go from here?
We believe the answer is a two-handed approach. Using homegrown, piecemeal solutions for the practical side and a re-examining of the Gospel for spiritual breakthroughs.
Already some of you are asking if we are going out with an organization, etc. The answer at this time is no. We don’t sense we are to be sent out by an NGO or some type of agency but simply go as “fellow believers” who want to do our part amongst the poor in Africa.
Others have asked about supporting us financially.
If you would like to participate financially with us, I have set up an account where you can make on-line Donations at my Burning Bush Web Design web site. You can pay with Credit Cards or PayPal. You just need to click on the “Make A Donation” icon on my website and then enter your donation amount and click Update Total on the PayPal page. These are not tax-deductible as we are not a 501c3.
We do feel quite strongly that donations need to be given as the Spirit of God leads! Since we are going into a situation of potential greed, abuse, and harmful habit patterns with money, we don’t want to carry in any extra “baggage”.
“Western money continues to make the national church dependent on the West. It creates a sense of rivalry, greed and competition. It often robs the national church of its natural potential. When the easy money from the West is available, very few want to explore indigenous ways of fund raising.” Atul Aghamkar
If you want to stay connected with us in this journey let us know! I will keep you on the mailing list!!
Yours for the Least in the Kingdom,
Jeff and Maria
Jeff and Maria Gilbertson
2434 10th Ave
Chetek, WI 54728
Website: Burning Bush Web Design