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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God’s Will–and the Clarity I Didn’t Have

We weren’t clearly “called” to Africa. That I know of.

I was thinking of this the other night, as friends and I gathered around steaming plates held on our laps with friends who’d just returned from a “vision trip”–hopefully helping them discern whether God was calling them to India. Unfortunately, clarity wasn’t showing up.

Maybe God will correct my thinking in the future. But there my husband and I were in Little Rock, with a bunch of little kids, contemplating whether or not to, you know, sell 70% of our stuff and wheel our bags to a continent I was sure was just buzzing with malaria and typhoid.

I say that—but honestly, I was thrilled. Africa was a dream come true, one I’d put on the shelf in the “maybe God will explain why” category of my mental Dewey decimal system. And as we discussed it, I don’t think I’ll forget what my husband said one night.

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