I’m increasingly convinced economics are a key to the spiritual transformation of our region. A few thoughts:
- The Bible talks more about money than any other subject except love. It talks more about money than about heaven and hell combined.
- The indigenous people here are in bondage to a spirit of poverty. That doesn’t just mean they’re poor. It means they stay poor because they have very little belief they’re capable of helping themselves. Five hundred years after the Spanish conquest, they’re still a conquered people. They largely have a mentality that other people owe them something. Instead of taking initiative to improve their situation, they wait for handouts from the government and from charitable groups. It’s a spiritual bondage.
- In many villages, 50% (or more) of working age men are in the U.S. because the villages have no economy and most jobs in towns like ours don’t pay enough. The men stay gone for years at a time. This is having a devastating impact on the region. Wives are trying to support and raise families as single parents, and thousands of kids are growing up without fathers. Very young kids are being left at home alone for hours at a time while Mom works. In many cases, a husband starts a new family in the U.S. and never returns.
- This area has a wealthy class of small business owners who are doing quite well, but they don’t pay their employees enough to live on. This is a spiritual problem (James 5:1-4).
- What economy this region does have (because it’s not in abject poverty) is a house of cards. It is entirely dependent on outside sources, those being government handouts and money earned in the U.S., Canada, or other parts of Mexico. When the world economy collapses, our region will take it on the chin unless it begins to utilize its own natural resources more effectively. (This is difficult, because the government owns rights to most of the natural resources.)
- The villages are built on agriculture, but the agriculture is not doing well. Corn is the king crop, yet villages are buying corn grown in other places from the government at subsidized prices. The agriculture must improve.
- Most churches in the region gravitate strongly to a model of having paid clergy (which is perfectly biblical). The trouble is pastors aren’t getting paid nearly enough to support a family, so they’re leaving their churches to work in the U.S. and the churches are then falling apart. One issue here is the churches believe they can’t be obedient in giving due to their poverty – another spiritual problem. See the example of the Macedonian churches, whose “extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity” (2 Corinthians 8:1-4).
- The other issue is the churches thinking their pastors should do all the work of the ministry since they’re being paid. This is NOT biblical (Ephesians 4:11-13). While churches are growing in obedience in giving, pastors could get more people involved in ministry and remove a huge stumbling block for the people by supporting themselves – IF they had good jobs with which to support themselves.
Those are some scattered thoughts; things that burden me as I look at our region and things that are affecting what we do. If you’ve wondered where projects like a well drilling business fit into our church planting ministry, the above points are some of the pieces to the puzzle.