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.