Haiti, Poverty and the Post–Recession world

Give generously and sacrificially to help Haiti at this time as you enjoy this song by Josh Woodward titled “Motionless Land” (Click this link to see song video) .

It is no more news that over 200,000 of the world’s poorest are dead.  The aftermath of suffering, questions and anguish is still fully emerging even as many generously offer practical help and ask …why?

Ecclesiastes 7:12 …. and money is a defence…Proverbs 14[20]  The poor is hated even of his own neighbour: but the rich hath many friends.

I do expect many songs and blogs of encouragement on the Haitian Crisis even as Pope Benedict XVI, we read this week, has a new commandment for priests needing to get their message across  to “Go forth and blog”

Also, listening to an insightful podcast BBC (Radio Wales)- All things considered on Haiti sets you thinking even more.  Indeed an unfair proportion of disasters has hit the poorest nation in the western hemisphere – 4 earthquakes in the last 2 years, a landslide, a collapsed school, political turmoil, loss of life at an extraordinary scale and now this.

Could it also be the defenceless poorest are the most spiritually vulnerable as we also learn that religion in Haiti has long been a fluid mix of Catholic and Afro-Caribbean spiritual traditions and animism, which for centuries have made the island country a battleground for Western missionaries? But we do seem to have at least evidence that the poor seem somewhat unusually vulnerable even to natural forces.

Poverty has dimensions that the comfortable may not be familiar with.  The poor can be desperate and more akin to spiritual experimentation – easier victims for even minimally funded offerings.  The poor are numbed to being targeted for hatred as years of repeated mental and physical abuse distort realities and crush esteem. Richer nations often cannot understand their plight and will tend sometimes in very bad taste to glamorize the quaintness in poverty in films like Slum Dog millionaire.  Indeed many sell physical belongings and come to poor nations to help as missionaries offering hope and help – but some come with a rich and advantaged mindset. I have heard portrayals of links between poverty and the virtue of humility.  Perhaps it is more  true to say that the poor are not necessarily humble – they are often just plainly hungry, weak, abused, exposed and desperately in need often tending to criminality.  The poverty of the worlds poorest extends beyond lack of material possessions to mental distortion from decades of abuse and low esteem, poor education and confusion worsened by spiritual bondage.  The real disaster of poverty is down played to ease the conscience of the advantaged who sip cocktails in terraced parlours as they send generous aid quickly to nations buckling under crippling debt, political confusion and an ensuing darkness…as soon as media prick their hearts to do so…indeed, they buy peace and comfort of mind with their giving.

The suffering poor are quick to say there is nothing good about poverty and cry for more food, education, freedoms and liberating truths and will often ponder over the missionary who has never faced nor desires to face their devils but instead offers a blend of faith that seems at peace with their unseen warlords.  They know as they politely receive food, medicines, hope and money from all that will bring them – but still secretly appeasing their deities – that only a bolder power confrontation will unseat the hierarchy of unseen principalities. They wait for food but also for a spirit-filled Paul to confront their peculiar “Diana of the Ephesians” (Acts 19)

But  crisis can have its benefits…which will emerge someday.

  1. It teaches lessons on “Faith in adversity” that only victims can demonstrate.  The grieving need to hear the truth that God does not forsake us in affliction. Only those who have suffered and have been comforted are credible comforters.
  2. Crisis can dislocate the debris of the past and allow a better future – creating the opportunity for a new beginning.
  3. There is a “glow” under the ashes someone said that only the burnt can offer to a world with a distorted mindset unable to deal with some realities of life.

As the recession gradually recedes and a new lifestyle of moderation becomes the fad, perhaps the excess (instead of financing abortions in the west or another credit card spree) can be funnelled to cancel all the debts of the poorest nations like Haiti and offer sustained and more direct support for education, infrastructure reconstruction, basic healthcare and food supplies for the impoverished…even as corruption and other ills are tackled.  All nations should make firm commitments to poverty eradication – recognising that poverty is evil. Stronger nations should help the weak.

Jesus Christ referred to the religious Pharisees (seen as the models of generosity, truth and integrity in His time) as a generation of vipers and when the people asked what they should do differently… Jesus did not say “give what you can” nor does He say” help the poor”… He answered quite plainly …

Luke 3[11]  He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.

I suspect if all believers obeyed this very simple and plain teaching and give all that they should (not just to other Christians) … there will be far more progress. Christ  knows about the corruption and the challenges…but still concludes that true Christianity bridges the gap between the rich and poor and doesn’t extend it and even does more than just reducing the chasm.

More spiritual warriors and perhaps less commentators are also needed to dislodge the grip of darkness that enslaves the poor…even as a new opportunity for enlightenment presents itself for the right response.

God bless you…as we pray for more grace to let Jesus reign in our hearts in 2010.


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Post-Recession and new Business Doors

Phillipians 4[5]  Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.

A new lifestyle of moderation is evolving. Recently Yahoo Finance reported in a recent article 17 Ways Consumers are Changing  by Rick Newman…to present a new world of moderation and frugality.  Some have speculated that when things improve the consumer will go back to lavish consumption but consumer watchers believe this new culture will linger longer than many expect. I wrote a blog post The Post–Recession World and High Growth Business opportunities on the new world and ideas for businesses to consider to embrace the new realities in which I suggested “…The more discerning, sophisticated, frugal consumer will have more options and power…”

The word “Success” is also being redefined – writes Rick Newman in his article. Also more than ever before materialism is being shunned and viewed with suspicion. Another recent news caught my attention on how the luxury royal caribbean cruise liner seen at the Haiti port immediately attracted critical remarks…even as we hear another magnitude-6.1 temblor shakes buildings and sends screaming people running into the streets.

No doubt there is also a new interest in spiritual things out of fear and realization that many creeds seem to have failed and previous metrics of performance found unreliable. Also as digitalization consumerises faith – there are new evangelism opportunities but also serious threats…

Like never before it is time to bring the Lord into the equation of our ministry, business and lifestyle. The Lord cannot be a consultant, adviser or just a helper to achieve what we want or endorse our ” improved” ways.  He is King and He wants to reign as He opens new doors to those who seek, honor and fear Him.

I have listed an update of new opportunities…remember you can start small … and it is not about making more money

Potential Opportunities/niches to consider…

  1.   Low cost Food and Agriculture solutions
  2.   Employment bureau/Human capital engineering/Re-education services
  3.   Security Intelligence and corporate safety
  4.   Low end residential real estate solutions
  5.   Outsourcing services/Equipment Rentals/Leasing services
  6.   Customer Market insight / Data consulting services
  7.   E-business Markets leveraging new channels i.e. webs/blogs/social media
  8.   Government Consulting/regulatory support/Public sector support services
  9.   Recycling of waste / Used goods merchandising
  10.   Community facilitation/volunteering management/support
  11.   Home/Personal Finance consulting (Debt-free consulting)
  12.   Alternative media solutions ( “responsible” audiovisual/radio/web/TV)


Isaiah 11[2] And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; [3]  And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears…

Surrender your life to Jesus and let Him reign in you.



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