Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Purpose Driven Country

John Coleman at Ex Nihilo points out a Time article which profiles the partnering of Pastor Rick Warren (of the Saddleback Church in CA. and author of The Purpose Driven Life) with the Rwandan government to revitalize that country. (ht: Joe at Evangelical Outpost)

He notes:

It seems to me that two of the biggest movers of political and cultural reform over the coming century will be private charity and globalization (the extension of Western security and economic rule sets--free markets, private property, etc.--to developing or war-ravaged nations); and Warren's initiative might mark something of a turning point for both Africa and the church.

If religion, perverted, can impassion people to perpetrate suicide bombings and violent crusades, perhaps the redirection of religious passion--the kind espoused by Dr. Martin Luther King, pastor Rick Warren, Ghandi, and others like them--could drive positive change in the lives of people who, thus far, have rarely seen anything more substantive from the West than Live Aid

I agree. TIME magazine gives time to some skeptics:
Yet there are some skeptics. Many missions professionals regard short-term site visits by faith-driven amateurs as inefficient. Then there is the program's improvisational aura. "I'm cheering 'em on," says Wheaton's Moreau. "In Africa, programs appearing well connected can instantly attract a mass of people. But I wonder how many at Saddleback have the cross-cultural experience to convert that [enthusiasm] to feet on the ground." Says Furaha Mugisha, editor of the Rwandan newspaper Umuseso: "I think [Warren] has good intentions. Some people may benefit. But he is not different from other pastors we have seen. You won't hear much about his plan after the rally."

I think that the skeptics are missing a vital part of the picture. From TIME again (bolding mine):
Warren also expects about 500 of the "small groups" that make up Saddleback to "adopt" individual Rwandan villages and begin sending short-term visitors in the fall.

Kagame, impressed by The Purpose-Driven Life, volunteered Rwanda in March. In July Warren and 48 other American Evangelicals, who have backgrounds in areas like health, education, micro-enterprises and justice, held intensive planning meetings with Rwandan Cabinet ministers, governors, clergy and entrepreneurs. One dinner was attended by a third of the Rwandan Parliament.

He has tapped Saddleback congregants to talk with the heads of specific Rwandan sectors.

Small groups are the key. Small groups in churches are incredibly supportive, focused and accountable. I would be willing to bet there is alot of careful matching of small groups with various officials, areas of expert need, and villages. Warren will have a firm network of leaders he has "tapped" within those accountable small groups. These small groups will partner with key people on the local level and all politics are local. All change is local.

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