Tuesday, June 09, 2009

more in schweizland

part 3:

Spoke Saturday night at the Glaube in Bewegung Conferenz—Faith in Action Conference—on leadership. This was my third session and even though the conference was a general conference, I felt I should speak on the issue of leadership and organizational health. I had a few pastors thanked me for the message; I hope “civilians” could make use of it.

On Sunday late afternoon I spoke on social justice. There’s an odd dynamic here is Switzerland; the government’s social care system virtually eliminates any homeless issue; we could learn a few things in America. But that can create other problems according to our friends here: a “hiddenness” of the people who are taken care of from the community. Yet it does makes for an odd slant when talking about justice issues—in general, people’s health needs and housing are practically taken care of here. Obviously there are cracks in the system and people are people anywhere on the globe. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs eventually comes into play, particularly in a country where only 3% of the population attend church.

But we also live in a global community that is shrinking rapidly. The needs in third world countries shout at us. The Pharisee’s question, “Who is my neighbor?” has gotten more difficult in this information age, and the only way to avoid it is to become hermitage monks and totally withdraw from society.

I don’t think that’s do-able if you have the heart of Jesus and understand the generosity of God.

It was a more serious talk about systemic poverty. I was reminded of the dilemma a few years ago in Nigeria. Nigeria will spend more on paying off its debt to Western industrialized nations than health care. The tsunami in 2005 took over 150,000 lives, but that’s how many Africans die every month of AIDs. And get this: Nigeria has already paid over 15 billion dollars on the original 5 billion dollar loan. It’s all interest—and they still owe $32 billion. Interest on international bank loans can fluctuate wildly. Something’s not right. You and I have Christian brothers and sisters in those nations. The Bible has some of its harshest words for those who will not fight against social injustices.

Anyway, it was a difficult talk to give with a translator, but we made it. Looking forward to a couple of down days.


  1. Malaria.

    Everybody talks about AIDS, but malaria kills almost four times as many people per year and is actually treatable.

    More children die every day from malaria than in history from swine flu.

    $3bil would essentially end malaria worldwide.

    Malaria is the top public health problem in the world, so why does AIDS get so much more press?

  2. Interesting question Mica. It is odd that in Africa the AIDS epidemic is so wide spread but is becoming in check in the western nations I think. Malaria can be easily controled through comprehensive prevention of the incubators that cause Malaria.

    I would think in the third world countries not much attention is paid to the stagnant waters since there is so little water available in the first place.

    Then you have the political powers or lack of that fail to respond to the aid they are given and hoard the resources for their own consumption.

    Yes we should respond and try to offer aid to those countries but I feel we have a crisis here in our own country that needs our attention first.

    Right here in America, we have the jobless living under bridges and mothers/ children living out of their cars as they have lost their homes. Yes help the world so they can spit on us but lets get help to our own people first.

  3. There is enough bad stuff in the world that we don't have to fight about what's more important and what gets more press. Find a cause that speaks to you and help! If everyone does what God puts on their heart the world will be a much better place.


  4. “in general, people’s health needs and housing are practically taken care of here”

    “a country where only 3% of the population attend church”

    That’s interesting - and consistent with a comment Chuck Colson made last week: “...the more a government spends on welfare, the fewer people go to church.”

    But I wonder which happens first – governments take care of people’s needs because churches don’t, or people abandon the church because the government takes care of their needs?

  5. I have to agree with Anonymous on this one.

    Be directed by your heart, not by the popularity of the cause.

  6. Anon and MJS, yes. God gives us each different passions and convictions. Follow them.