Thursday, April 05, 2007

Walking With The Poor

I think I have a new number one book. Walking with the Poor by Bryant Myers is a book anyone thinking of doing any missionary work must read. While the beginning chapters get a little heady with the point counterpoint research of other authors the last chapter does pull it together.

This book is not an answer book or instruction book. It is instead a book of eye opening. It helps those going to help the poor to look at the full picture. To realize that the poor are not just those with poor health or no water but to make sure to understand the political, and spiritual history of the community of service. It stresses the importance of engaging everyone that will be affected by the change you are bringing.

Best of all the book is written from a Christian point of view. And recognizes that the worldview of a village has a lot of weight. It also recognises that the worldview of the western 'modern' world is incomplete compared to traditional and biblical world views. All world views have a physical world, and a God world, the modern world lacks a connecting world (a continuum of influence between the two.) But spiritual based models have the reality of acting lesser gods or spirits that affect the world around us. And can be used to affect the Gods.

What surprised me is the idea that we do not fully understand or have developed the biblical world view. Humans do not understand God's view of the world fully.

There is talk too in this book about how to bring people to Christ. It is not as simple as telling only about Jesus, you need to explain the history of the old testament and see the parallels in the history of your working culture. Then rewrite that history to be from God's eyes. Thing is this can not be done by and outsider, it must be done by those in the community. Not just the poor you are helping but also the 'non poor' who live with them. They also need to know of Jesus and his saving work.

The work you do is a opening to tell about Jesus and God. Don't be silent about the story. But don't if you use sonar to find a water source say it was your God that helped you. Technology and science do not bring people closer to God. But they have a lot of truth to them that will split the worldview. Science will be used for the physical world but the old god's will be kept for spiritual needs.

This book is a must read for anyone that is going to try to change a culture. The actions required boil down to asking again why why why until the foundational reason for a tradition is found. Then explaining how God views that.

This book talks about poor in Africa, India, and the influence of the culture and current religion on that culture. The reality is Hindu religion is written by the rich to explain why they are rich and why the poor need to be poor and not rise up.

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