When the Rich from the West Don’t Know They’re Acting Like It

rich from west don't know they're acting like it

Today Go. Serve. Love is stoked to welcome Rachel Pieh Jones–a marathon runner, a camel rider, a cookbook author of Djiboutilicious, and a general all-out lover of Djibouti. This post originally appeared on her blog, Djibouti Jones.

From Rachel’s blog, Djibouti Jones: I have been wrestling with how to write about this for months. Starts and stops, lots of unfinished first sentences and barely coherent lists. Then I read this essay after the Rick Warren and race conversation flared up. When White People Don’t Know They Are Being White by Jody Louise on Between Worlds. She is humble yet forthright in the piece, a balance which is incredibly challenging to achieve around such a sensitive and potentially volatile topic. She spurred me on, inspired me, and clearly, informed the title of this post.

I’m giving you loads of links here that will lead to other links and I encourage you to take the time to read this stuff. I have been and don’t think I’ll ever be the same. It is hard, challenging, might make you angry. That’s okay, wrestle with it. Join me as I wrestle with it.

I am not surprised by, but continue to be disappointed in, the western attitude toward the developing world. It is an attitude I see often, though not exclusively, among Christians. It is an attitude of superiority, a god-complex. An attitude that communicates an underlying assumption, intentionally or not, that the rich westerner is the one with power and authority and agency. As this is communicated, of course the opposite is communicated as well. The local person is weak, a victim, and helpless. The rich westerner must charge in to fix things, build things, challenge the status quo.

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Does International Development Need God?

We’re stoked to welcome Laurence Knoop, formerly of the British armed forces and now a construction manager in East Africa with Engineering Ministries International (EMI). Working mostly in Uganda, Laurence not only builds buildings but develops the men and women on his construction site, who are regularly discipled (don’t miss this video about EMI’s incredible program). Among his many projects, Laurence has helped construct the secondary school campus of Katie Davis Majors’ Amazima ministries, of Kisses from Katie fame. He and his wife Jane just welcomed their first son. You can catch their engaging stories on Instagram (@laurence.p.k) or their blog.

I recently came across two opinion pieces – one old, one new – both written by atheists and both promoting the value of churches and religious organisations in international development.

Matthew Parris – columnist for The Times and “a confirmed atheist” – is convinced “Africa needs God,” and that Christian evangelism makes an “enormous contribution” to tackling poverty in developing countries. Duncan Green – strategic adviser for Oxfam and “a lifelong atheist” – asks “are grassroots faith organizations better at advocacy/making change happen? and, after reviewing Tearfund’s report on their faith-based advocacy partnership with the Pentecostal Assemblies of God in Uganda, concludes that it is “powerful and convincing stuff.

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