The Root of the Disaster in Haiti

On October 17, 1989, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck the Bay Area of Northern California. 63 people were killed. The earthquake that struck Haiti was also magnitude 7.0, but current estimates are that between 45,000 and 50,000 people have died. As David Brooks of the New York Times wrote in his op-ed today, the earthquake in Haiti is “not a natural disaster story. This is a poverty story.” I applaud Brooks for the courage to deal with a sensitive topic. Why is it that earthquakes of similar magnitudes, both striking relatively densely populated areas, can have such vastly disparate impacts? For Brooks, the answer is poverty. I respectfully disagree. The answer isn’t poverty. It’s worldview. To his credit, Brooks eventually broaches this sensitive subject:

It is time to put the thorny issue of culture at the center of efforts to tackle global poverty… As Lawrence E. Harrison explained in his book The Central Liberal Truth, Haiti, like most of the world’s poorest nations, suffers from a complex web of progress-resistant cultural influences. There is the influence of the voodoo religion, which spreads the message that life is capricious and planning futile. There are high levels of social mistrust. Responsibility is often not internalized. Child-rearing practices often involve neglect in the early years and harsh retribution when kids hit 9 or 10.

We’re all supposed to politely respect each other’s cultures. But some cultures are more progress-resistant than others, and a horrible tragedy was just exacerbated by one of them.

Upstream of culture is “cult.” In other words, we build societies and cultures in the image of the God or gods we worship. Voodoo, which is still widely practiced in Haiti, is a satanic belief system, and Jesus warned, “The thief [Satan] comes only to steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10). Cultures and nations built on this “cult” will reap tragic consequences, which are often exacerbated by natural disasters.

But what if a culture is built upon the worship of the one true God—the maker of heaven and earth—as revealed in Scripture? The Bible is far more than a devotional book or a guide to personal spiritual salvation. It presents a comprehensive worldview that provides the only sure foundation for healthy, free, and prosperous nations. This is the thesis of my colleague Darrow Miller’s book Discipling Nations: The Power of Truth to Transform Culture.

Cultures can be shaped by a worldview that leads to a belief that life is capricious, the future is going nowhere, and therefore planning is futile. Or they can be influenced by a worldview that leads them to believe that life is meaningful and planning for the future is important.

Cultures can be shaped by a worldview that leads to social mistrust, corruption and a lack of personal responsibility.  Or they can be shaped by a worldview that leads to a culture of honesty, trust and responsibility. Not all worldviews are created equal—and while they don’t cause natural disasters, they do explain the disparate impact they can have.

The God of the Bible is not capricious. He is a sovereign, loving God who works in an orderly and purposeful way to accomplish his plan to redeem and restore all things. Cultures that worship him tend to be future-oriented. Planning is valued. Science is possible because of the orderliness of the universe, and can be used to help construct strong buildings which are less likely to collapse in an earthquake.

The God of the Bible created men and women in his image and works through them to carry out his good purposes for creation. People are not cosmic accidents; they are image-bearers of God with immense value, purpose and destiny. Cultures that worship him tend to place a high value on human life. They see children as history-makers, and as such, education is highly valued.

The God of the Bible is righteous and trustworthy. He always keeps his promises. Cultures that worship him tend to value honesty and have high levels of social capital.

This is not a theory or a hope. It is a historically verifiable fact. If you want to explore this further, I encourage you to explore the works of Vishal Mangalwadi, particularly his most recent book Truth and Transformation: A Manifesto for Ailing Nations. You may also wish to explore the works of Rodney Stark, particularly The Rise of Christianity. Even atheists are unable to deny the power of a comprehensive, Biblical worldview for social and cultural transformation. See Matthew Parris’s article “As an atheist, I truly Believe Africa needs God.”

For too long, too many Christians have promoted a gospel of spiritual salvation, yet failed to tell the whole story of Scripture. This message of spiritual salvation for heaven has been taken around the world and gladly accepted in many nations, yet their underlying culture has remained intact. It has been said of Haiti, for example, that it is 80% Christian, but 100% Voodoo.

The Bible is far more than a guide for personal, spiritual salvation. It is a comprehensive worldview that provides a sure blueprint for the building of healthy, free, and prosperous nations. Spreading this message and connecting it to local churches that begin to incarnate it in their lives, families, and communities is why the Disciple Nations Alliance exists.

To some, what I’m writing here sounds critical and uncompassionate. Am I blaming the victim? In America, we are expected to (in David Brook’s words) “politely respect each other’s cultures.”  But what if there are elements within our culture and other cultures that lead to brokenness, fatalism, poverty, and despair? Is it compassionate to continue respond to disasters in Haiti without asking the hard questions of why Haiti has been so resistant to positive change despite years of well-intentioned international aid? I think not. The people of Haiti deserve our compassion. They bear God’s image and are as full of dignity and worth as any people in the world. The answers to their deepest problems don’t lie in our pity and continued handouts. Instead, they will be found in Scripture and in the power of God and his Word when it is rightly understood as a comprehensive worldview. A truly compassionate response will recognize this, and act accordingly.

– Scott Allen

  
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25 Responses to The Root of the Disaster in Haiti

  1. Laurence E. Schell says:

    I personally want to give Haiti relief gifts to a ministry like Disciple Nations Alliance. Is any of your type of work being done there? It would make a huge difference. And I could recommend it to all my friends who want to give to Haiti.

  2. Your post “The Root of the Disaster in Haiti” reminded me of a study done in the 1970s of what was then known as British Honduras, by Mary Kenyon Bullard, at http://ambergriscaye.com/pages/mayan/psychiatricdisorder.html. There’s lots to mine from here, I believe, in support of the notion that worldview affects economic outcomes.

  3. An American expat living in Central America was wondering why her maid simply could not accept her instructions not to wash nonstick pots and pans with a Brillo pad. Below are excepts from the email I sent her, which includes some of the most pertinent quotes from the study by Mary Kenyon Bullard.

    About the brillo pad incident, I’ve seen this sort of thing over and over, and would die to be able to really “get at” what is going on in this sort of situation. What is it about our experience, and their experience, that makes us not connect on such things? How are our thinking processes, values, emotional reactions, whatever it is….how are these things different so as to lead to this situation?

    Sometimes I’ve wondered if the thoughts or unconscious assumptions go something like this:

    “I’m doing domestic work for these rich people, which is demeaning. Work in general is demeaning, and low end work is especially demeaning. They’re rich, I’m poor, so they get to exploit me this way. And, of course, if I were rich, I’d do the same thing, because, afterall, assaulting one another’s dignity is just the name of the game of being human, as I’ve learned from an early age. I wasn’t born rich, I was born poor. I AM poor. So I play my role, they play their role, in a perpetual zero sum “I win, you lose” game. And if I ever do my job WELL it’s a favor to them. But even though my dignity is assaulted just having to do this at all, I draw the line at being told how to do ‘my thing.’ I am offering them ‘my thing’ and no more. I am not there to do anything they want however they want. To have to do this kind of work is demeaning enough. But to be told that I don’t know how to do ‘what I do’ is crossing the line. Determining how I do the work is my little teeny sphere of dignity that I reserve for myself. So, if they intrude into that, I will just smile and respond with passive aggression. Sigh, I forgive them, they’re really too socially dense to know what they’re doing. My forgiving them and continuing to work for them with a smile is also a favor to them. But of course I’ll continue doing ‘my thing’ my way.”

    So maybe this is part of why when we tell them how to do stuff it goes in one ear and out the other?

    Meanwhile, I know what I’m thinking:

    “I’m giving her an opportunity. I’m paying her an agreed upon sum in exchange for doing what I want her to do. I have something she wants–money. Now she needs to give me what I want, which is certain things done in a certain way, leading to certain desired results. Isn’t that fair?”

    Sounds like, in your maid’s case, maybe she just flat out misunderstood. Maybe tripped up over language? And maybe her background is such that she didn’t get the cognitive development necessary to think clearly about options, about alternative ways of doing things?

    On the cognitive development front, here are some thoughts from a doctoral dissertation by Mary Kenyon Bullard, at http://ambergriscaye.com/pages/mayan/psychiatricdisorder.html, done in the 1970s, passed on to me the other day by a friend. It seems to shed a lot of light…. In particular, I’m wondering if growing up with chaotic random discipline and a fatalistic worldview, as discussed below, results in people being stunted in their ability to grasp cause-effect relationships and process alternative ways of doing things?

    MKB wrote:

    > Children do not usually have a well-formed idea of why they have been punished, or understand why they are sometimes beaten for a certain act and not at other times. Threats of a ‘lashing’ are so frequently made and so seldom carried out that children do not really view adults as authority figures and arbitrars of justice. They see them as cruel and capricious task masters who are to be tricked and cheated when possible. They do not develop clear cut ideas about the propriety of much of their own conduct because they have never been explicitly taught and discipline patterns have not been consistent enough to offer more than a few clues. If children make an indiscreet or improper remark, adults either laugh or cuff the child. They do not explain what subjects are proper conversational material for children. Similarly, parents very rarely reward a child for good behavior. From their youngest days when even their worst behavior was a source of amusement to adults, to the middle years of childhood when they can sometimes do nothing right, children are faced with a bewilderingly disparate set of reactions to their conduct. They grow up to be sly, sneaky, and clever beyond their years. They are usually non-self-assertive, superficially obedient, well-behaved in public, and emotionally very dependent on their mothers. Incidently, they also become excellent marble players, hoop rollers, kite flyers, and sling shot marksmen. Their creative abilities are not developed and they show few abilities with drawing materials and plastic forms of expression.
    >
    > To compound the sudden shift from complete permissiveness to desultory discipline, there is often the added factor of growing up in several different homes with a steadily changing cast of characters as children and adults both come and go according to the vagaries of their various fates. There is no strong community pressure which forces women to keep their children with them. While it is not always easy to give a small baby away, it is seldom difficult to place a child between five and ten years. Children this age can be of great assistance in a household and this is why childless couples or older couples whose children have all matured will take them. Such children are expected to do all the work they can and in return will be fed and housed. Many times a couple or a woman living alone will ask a woman with a large brood for one of her children. Or, if a friend or relative particularly likes one child, it may be requested even though the person seeking the child already has several of her own. Upon the death of a woman or her departure from home, the whole family will be parcelled out to relatives and neighbors. Children who grow up in such foster homes will often have even less interest taken in their moral and social education than if they were with their natural families. They are expected to work hard and demand little in the way of food, shelter, and dress. Little thought is given to how the child grows up because most people realize that the majority of these informally adopted children will return to their natal homes or close relatives when they reach their teens.
    >
    > In effect, there is very little conscious moral and social training of children in British Honduras. They learn at home by imitation and in school by rote. They are not trained to reflect on their conduct or to reason anything else out. When parents perceive unpleasant traits in their children, they believe that it is due to the ‘nature’ of the child and not to any faults in the home. Raising children is not viewed as a “science” and no one worries about whether she or he has done a good job. A bad job is almost inconceivable although people do criticize the child-rearing practices of others. They will fault other people for not disciplining their children frequently enough, feeding or dressing them poorly, or not teaching them ‘manners,’ but they rarely examine their own children in these terms or consider the possibility that mischievous or incorrigible children literally do not know any better. This is particularly true with slightly to moderately retarded children. They probably never grasp the abstract notions of right and wrong as the lessons are offered in such a haphazard manner. They mature physically and learn that there are some things which they should never do, but many of them become sexual deviants and general problems in their neighborhoods. Some people never realize what is wrong with these persons and their presence in the community, unexplained as it is, merely serves to reinforce ideas about the rigidity of childhood traits and increase the amount of visible deviant behavior.

    and

    > Certain beliefs which British Hondurans share about personality also influence the amount of deviant behavior and measures to control it. They are strongly fatalistic and see their lives as being greatly determined by ‘fate,’ ‘luck,’ ‘destiny,’ and other predetermining kinds of forces. They envision themselves as being acted upon by circumstances they cannot control, understand, or change. Each personal history to them is the sum of immutable events and unavoidable circumstances which have made the person what he is. British Hondurans feel that being born into a poor family is a reason for failure to achieve later in life. This is viewed as an almost insurmountable obstacle as it usually means lack of formal education, no useful social contacts, and insufficient opportunity in one’s younger years to learn a trade. Related to this idea of non-control over one’s fate is the notion of unchangeable personal characteristics. They feel that each person is born with a definite personality which will become evident as the child matures and that little can be done to change a person at any stage of life. Thus when parents or guardians notice that a child is selfish, gossipy, dishonest, sulky, bad-minded, cruel, etc. they will comment with regret on its character but there will be no concerted effort to modify it. They will criticize the child and perhaps beat it occasionally for its failings, but they will not think that they themselves could influence its development in any other way than that direction which it seems to be taking. Constructive corrective discipline is not part of parental behavior when the child is young, and even less when it is older. When a boy or girl reaches the early teens and is old enough to find itself in serious trouble for theft, sexual misconduct, fighting, etc., most people would despair of being able to control the young person. There is a juvenile corrective facility in Belize City but it receives only males and is not a commonly sought remedy for the situation. If the young incorrigible reaches fifteen or sixteen years and still behaves very badly, he or she will be evicted from the household. While this is a definite negative reaction to the teenager’s deviant behavior it is not a particularly helpful or corrective one. This puts the burden of discipline on the whole society and, as will be indicated, collective discipline is not always forthcoming.

    Does the above accurately describe the experience of poor Hondurans today? (I KNOW it describes the experience of poor Mexicans.) And do you think there’s a connection between what’s said here and the inability of your maid to process and get things straight about cleaning your skillet?

    I have some background in biblical studies, and I’ve been reading about how the view of God in the book of Genesis as one supreme being, moral in character, ruling over all, contrasts sharply (and on purpose) with the ancient Babylonian view of the gods as chaotic and capricious and of various moral dispositions, and who are themselves subject to chaos and fate. Some of the gods require moral behavior of their human servants, but most are just kind of glorified warlord, drug lord types. And their relative power and status goes up and down according to unpredictable fate. The god you are worshipping is not necessarily moral, you just need to try to pay him off with sacrificial tribute and hope he stays happy with you. (Which reminds me of what Bullard is saying above about how children view their parents…could it not also be how they view employers and anybody “in power”?) Whereas in the law of Moses the Ten Commandments is one single transcendent moral law for everybody, it’s the law of the one single God who is King over all, who determines how his subjects should relate to each other, so there’s no chaos about it. Humans are created in the “image of God” and so are regarded highly by God in spite of status or rank. Work is also valued and dignified in Genesis, even God himself does work and takes delight in it, while in the other regional creation stories the gods make humans to do work for them because they want to get out of doing it themselves. I got a lot of this from Understanding Genesis, by Nahum M. Sarna, a Jewish scholar. Now what I’m drawing from all this is that Western culture has inherited its worldview in part from this Genesis/Ten Commandments/Jewish/Christian trajectory and applied it in various ways, not least in the idea of democracy and equal rights and level playing rules and dignity of all persons. Not that we consistently practice these things, but they are our firmly embedded ideals. This trajectory has given us a lot of the “givens” that we take for granted and don’t often consciously think about, but they are simply NOT the “givens” in many other cultures. What Bullard describes above seems to flow out of more of a “chaos reigns” view.

    I’m trying to get at this mystery from a variety of angles. Does any of this provide clues to the sorts of things you observe every day?

    • Dear Steven, thanks for the response. What you write rings true from our experiences around the world. Most Westerners have very little sense of what an animistic worldview is and how it functions. One other resource I might recommend that we have found helpful in understanding this worldview is Gailyn Van Rheenen’s “Communicating Christ in Animistic Contexts.” My colleague Darrow Miller and I also wrote a small booklet a couple years ago called “The Forest in the Seed: A Biblical Perspective on Resources and Development” that includes some stories of how animistic cultures view resources, and particularly the strong “zero sum” mindset that is so prevalent and devastating within so many of these cultures which you allude to in your comment. You can review this book free on our website here: http://www.disciplenations.org/books_download. When we teach on this topic in our Vision Conferences, the session that focuses on this topic most directly is “The ABCs of Culture.” You can review our PowerPoint here: http://www.disciplenations.org/vc/host-tools. I hope these will be of further help in your research.

      – Scott Allen

  4. Hylan Slobodkin says:

    Excellent article. Thank you for a balanced worldview. I’ve been asking the Lord what to preach on this weekend. I think I have my outline. Hello to Darrow.

  5. Laurence, please see our previous post about giving to relief efforts: http://wp.me/pmjTk-f8

    Hylan, praise God. We trust your congregation will benefit from this message!

    -Stephanie for the DNA Team

  6. Dennis Warren says:

    Hi Scott,

    I agree with what you have said … so your last couple of sentences appear to provide an excellent segway into another post where I’m thinking you might provide a specific example or two of something tangible that might be done (like for instance something different than we hear on CNN, etc…).

    Perhaps a few comments along with links to DNA resource pages showing how such specific tasks could be helpful in the tough battle to reverse the pitiful trend where we have seen people’s cultural background trumping what was thought to be a presentation of “a rightly understood” Biblical worldview (?comprehensive?).

    I need to hear real-life stories where people have risen above their culture background … unfortunately big lost battles (like the Rwandan genocide) have wounded my hope that success is possible.

    Learning about what I considered the failure of the Rwandan “church?” (to lesson the atrocities) – hit my hope so hard it felt like it had been dead for maybe 3 days … and then, adding insult to that ?fatal? injury, I’ve witnessed situations involving people in my extended family (both church and personal) where their cultural backgrounds have not yet been overcome by the Gospel (even though as far as I knew it had been clearly presented as “rightly understood as a comprehensive worldview”).

    [Maybe I just don’t get it – about all that phrase should entail?]

    Sigh … I know Jesus raised Lazarus’ body even after it had been dead for over 4 days …. I feel like my hope may be just about that dead …

    I need to hear success is possible.

    I read several chapter’s in Rodney Stark’s book – and yes, he did help me see where the rightly understood comprehensive Gospel has indeed successfully changed cultures. So … maybe I just need to believe (again) that it can and has done so in today’s world as well.

    I want to believe … my prayer is “Lord, help thou my unbelief” (Scott, if you and the DNA guys and gals will be used of Jesus’ as one of the ways He resurrects my hope … I would very much appreciate it!

    I know you guys are all very busy – and I know there are most likely already good resources available (perhaps some have even written with someone like me in mind) – so I’ll start by ordering some of what is already prepared.

    Any specific suggestions would certainly be very much appreciated!

    Thanks in advance!

    ( btw, It’s guys like you who have already kept me from throwing in the last shovels of dirt ).

    -Dennis

  7. You’ve talked quite a bit in your article about cultures that worship God. Would you mind providing some examples, either currently or historically?

    • Dear Jerry, thanks for the comment. I should probably clarify that I was talking about cultures where the predominant influence has been a biblical worldview. For historic examples, I would cite nearly all the nations of northern Europe and England which were significantly influenced by the Reformation. This would also include the United States. Many other nations were also positively influenced by Western missionaries who brought not only a Gospel of salvation, but a comprehensive Biblical Worldview. (See Vishal Mangalwadi’s examination of the impact of a biblical worldview on creating modern India in “The Legacy of William Carey: A Model for the Transformation of a Culture” as just one example.) Today, Western nations (including the US) can no longer claim that the predominant cultural paradigm is biblical. Rather it is secular and postmodern. That said, we still enjoy the benefits that come from institutions (political, economic, educational, etc.) that were formed many years ago by people who operated intentionally from a biblical worldview. As many have said, we are “running on the fumes” of a biblical worldview, but are nearly out of gas. The new secular, postmodern worldview will not be able to sustain the West’s freedom, prosperity and justice. We are moving in the wrong direction at an ever-increasing speed.

      – Scott Allen

  8. Pingback: Haitian Culture Needs Transformation « the Legacy of My Fathers

  9. Scott:

    This is right on target! I couldn’t agree more.

    I personally Haiti an evangelical mission disaster. I believe it not unfair to say that not only have we evangelicals created a whole nation dependent upon outside aid (and we all know that right now they desperately need it; I CANNOT imagine the awful suffering of those people), but we evangelicals have massively contributed to that culture of dependency by preaching a spiritualized worldview instead of a biblical worldview where people are responsible to create and produce real infrastructure, enforceable laws, appropriate technology, etc. This terrible tragedy should, IMHO, generate as much soul-searching within the evangelical missions community as it will amongst secular aid organizations and Western governments.

    To Dennis above…Thank you for your honesty. To give an illustration of community-level cultural transformation, I would point to the work of Ken and Elaine Jacobs with the Chamulas in southern Mexico. A number of books have bene written about their work, but I would most heartily recommend the latest, “These Words Changed Everything.” I also suggest learning about the work of James Yen in 1920s/1930s China, to see an example of county-wide transformation. Finally, at a national level I point to the work of William Wilberforce and the Clapham community in England.

    Bob Osburn

  10. Linda Leonard says:

    Heartline Ministries in the capital city is one that promotes a biblical world view by taking in orphans for adoption to Christian homes; by teaching women to care for their children, by establishing self-sustaining protein through animal husbandry, by teaching women health/nutrition/child development; by providing medical services, and by living and teaching the Word of God daily as well in the church where John McHoul preaches…..This ministry is not at all naive about the influence of voodoo or the bondage of superstition and fear. Like many others in Christian ministry in Haiti, they serve in “word and deed” bearing witness of the gospel “on earth as it is in heaven”. My four daughters were adopted through them out of darkness and into the light….rescued from voodoo as well as malnutrition and poverty. Haiti’s problems do involve worldview…..as well as the fact that much of their Christian and educated capital in the form of ex pats are in the U.S. Some of them I met at Christian colleges a generation ago. The country does need godly servant leaders. They do need order out of chaos. Let us work, pray, and give to that end……..and for righteousness and justice in the systems they have adopted from us……democracy alone was/is clearly not the answer.

  11. Dennis Warren says:

    (Caveat – forgive me if my first attempt at using html in the reply box doesn’t turn out properly)

    OK, I have been reading some of the content on Our official website and I have found the following text in href=”http://www.disciplenations.org/dna-news/stay-connect-with-the-dna/model-church-profile-watoto-church-kampala-uganda”>Model Church Profile: Watoto Church, Kampala Uganda

    ….
    [ Not only did the church embrace the concept of wholistic ministry and Seed Projects, they also focused on biblical worldview teaching. For an entire year, Pastor Skinner led the congregation through a teaching series aimed at helping members recognize and abandon false beliefs rooted in traditional African culture and replace them with biblical truth. The DNA helped Pastor Skinner realize that it is ultimately truth that transforms. Satan uses lies to entrap individuals and entire cultures in bondage to poverty and brokenness. For a church to be an agent of transformation in its community and nation, it needs to incarnate biblical truth in every area of life and society.” ]
    ….

    — So I’m wondering if perhaps there may be some outlines of the sermons Pastor Skinner used? … perhaps they could be helpful for pastors in Haiti – I’m thinking maybe they could use them as a starting point if they can “catch the vision” about the need to communicate the same basic type of message (i.e… maybe they would like some examples of general ideas which they might relevantly customize make applicable in Haiti’s culture … when appropriate).

    —> Thanks DNA folks! God is providing good fuel via that article to use in reviving my hope! <— (answered prayer is a wonderful thing!)

    Below I'm copying the last couple of paragraphs — hopefully this "taste" will be an encouragement to follow the link and read the full article.

    …..

    [ Imagine the impact that the thousands of Seed Projects done by the hundreds of Watoto Church cell groups are making on the city of Kampala! The communities within the city of Kampala are taking notice. Even the Ugandan government has recognized what is happening. Recently, the government named Kampala Pentecostal Church one of the country’s 10 most influential organizations in the war on AIDS.

    Today, Watoto church leaders such as Stephen Langa and Pastor Franco Onaga are extending the influence of the church into the various spheres of Ugandan society, including government, family, and even training programs for the Kampala police force. Watoto is truly a model church that is bringing the light of Christ and the healing of His Kingdom to Uganda, Africa and the whole world.

    For more on Watoto Church, visit their website: http://www.watotochurch.com ]
    …..

    -Dennis

  12. Dennis Warren says:

    oops – sorry about that second link in the above post … hopefully this time I’ll specify the link correctly (i.e. to the article on the DNA website where I found help for hope) :

    Model Church Profile: Watoto Church, Kampala Uganda

  13. Dennis Warren says:

    Wow!

    I just read a couple more things from the Resources area and one in particular appears to be doing restorative work on my spiritual heart’s hope valve : Biblical Truth Transforms Communities in Guatemala !

    I also found this gem: Our Target, God’s Glory
    (Reading about the need for obedience in order to become God’s Glory reminded me of the time when I discovered “the rest of the paragraph” as I attached John 8:31 with John 8:32 (normally quoted alone). Knowing the truth is associated with God’s Glory as well, I think.

    (Sorry for taking up space here if I’m mainly talking to “the choir” – I suspect many of you have probably already looked through the Resources area.) I like to share when I find what I consider to be really helpful content! (actually, I should have already been using my time to read through the resources here).

    I recently returned from a trip to Zanzibar visiting my daughter and her family where they live at a school they founded about 3 years ago. A young man who teaches there now, who came to Christ from a Islamic background not too long ago, asked me if I could point him at some good materials. I’m excited to have come in contact with articles like these!

    -Dennis

    • Dear Dennis,

      I’m so glad you found these other resources on the site. We have many more stories of a similar nature that still need to be posted. Hundreds of trainers are now working in more than 60 nations bringing the message that cultures can, and do change as the church understands and begins to function on the basis of a comprehensive biblical worldview. Understanding how this has happened through history has been a key focus of the work our our close friend Vishal Mangalwadi. I highly recommend a couple of his works: The Legacy of William Carey: A Model for the Transformation of a Culture (available here: http://www.disciplenations.org/product?stock_code=BP1008). He also has an outstanding CD lecture set titled “The Book of the Millennium: An Indian Explores the Soul of Western Civilization” which is also available on the DNA website store. Here he looks at how specific ideas and principles from Scripture shaped Western thought, institutions and culture. I would love to invite you to attend one of our Vision Conferences as well. We are seeing an amazing response to this teaching all over the world as Christians who have felt hopeless about seeing real change in their cultures are once again hopeful. The hope comes from seeing how God and His Word have changed cultures in the past, and how He can and will do it again in the future. Hope rooted in His promise to bless all nations (Gen. 12:1-3).

      – Scott Allen

  14. Hey Scott

    Very thought provoking Blog on whats behind the Haiti disaster and their effects come from worldview. I have put it out to NT Face Book fans at NT. Also put it in response to Robert Browns face book which sent people to a NY tTmes article saying Poverty was the reason.

    Keep the good stuff coming.
    Stan

  15. Ricardo Kiu Otake says:

    Dear Scott
    I am inclined to believe the ideas and the overall background of Discipling Nations. I’m a big fan of Darrow’s ideas and books. However, as i read your article about haiti, i felt a bit dissapointed the way you presented the ideas. I think they are all correct, but didn’t sound good. I looks like a pathernalist culture dominant emperor giving the judgment for the problems of haiti. I understand that you adressed the problems of western society in your response to Jerry as you talked about the postmodern world but yet, I think you should consider rewriting your article adressing the problems in a more loving way.
    respectufully

    ricardo

  16. Dennis Warren says:

    Thanks for your reply Scott.

    Today on his CNN program Fareed Zakaria interviewed Zbigniew Brzezinski in regard to Haiti, and I’m thinking you might find it interesting to read the transcript of the interview :

    http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1001/24/fzgps.01.html

    I’ll copy a few paragraphs here so you can see why I thought of you guys:

    From the interview:

    ………………
    ZAKARIA: So, when you look at Haiti, you are also a scientist, a political scientist, a scholar of comparative history. This is one of the most desperate countries in the world. Is it conceivable that, after a body blow like this, you will be able to transition to something, some stable, meaningful, political order that will endure?

    BRZEZINSKI: Haiti has one very important resource, which, unfortunately, has been underutilized, but it’s an important resource — human capital.

    You know, it’s rather remarkable the way the Haitian communities perform in America. And there have been some studies of that. And they show that the Haitian communities, given the right opportunity, thrive, and are very dynamic and very creative. They have, actually, a kind of tradition of self-development, which is rather impressive.
    ………………
    ZAKARIA: What lesson do you draw, Zbig, from the fact that, you look at Haiti, and then you look across the border at the Dominican Republic, and the Dominican Republic is doing rather well for a Third World country? It has a growing middle class. It’s peaceful. It’s stable.

    How can these two countries have had such different paths?

    BRZEZINSKI: Well, they have had, to some extent, slightly different political experience. The Haitians just had bad luck with some particular leaders. Then there was this even very specific phenomenon of deforestation in Haiti, which the Dominicans wisely did not emulate. And that has really damaged the agricultural base in Haiti.

    ZAKARIA: But you know, there are people who make broader claims. Bret Stephens, the foreign affairs columnist for the “Wall Street Journal,” says, you look at Haiti, and it is the best case against foreign aid, and that what we should learn from this is that you can pour all this money down countries like Haiti, and, really, nothing ever changes.

    So, why try it one more time?

    BRZEZINSKI: I think that is a dangerous argument, because it sort of suggests, subtly — or maybe unintentionally — a kind of human fault among the Haitians, which I certainly don’t see, and which, on the contrary, as I see the Haitians themselves, I see something quite different.

    I think it has much more to do with the historical context and the framework, and then, some fundamental socioeconomic errors, such as deforestation, as the causes, the more important causes of the periodic failures of Haiti. And last, but not least, perhaps even our own domination, periodic domination of the country, which wasn’t always driven by the most humanitarian motives.

    ………………

    (Back to my words now)

    Of course I suspect you guys at DNA would disagree with some of the views expressed in the interview. One question I’ve been wondering about after hearing/reading it — is this:

    Are you aware of any differences the principle world view (and/or minority ones) held by folks in the Dominican Republic verses the people in Haiti? (Sorry, but I’m woefully ignorant that subject).

    -Dennis

  17. Dennis Warren says:

    Continuing from my previous post …

    Now after a few hours of sleep and further reflection on the interview I’m interested especially in what Brzezinski said about the “human capital” of Haiti people (most notably when evaluated in groups who have settled in America.

    Do you think the Haitian communities in America may have – in a manner of speaking – sort of adopted a bit more of the remnants of what you call the “comprehensive biblical worldview”?

    From hearing Darrow speak several years ago, I’m pretty sure you guys believe “human capital” is the very best type of resource for helping people of impoverished nations improve their circumstances. This certainly makes sense (IMO) given we are made in God’s image (and “God in us” is truly the hope of glory). … But I suppose that does pre-suppose that God truly is in many/most of the people of a nation, and His empowerment is not impeded by disobedience (which could interfere with the likelihood of truth being able to set us free — sentence involves my interpretation of John 8:31 – John 8:32).

    One thing that comes to my mind about why the resourcefulness of Haiti people in America may have been more noticed is that I would guess there would be less voodoo belief and/or practices (in America verses Haiti) – or at least perhaps a tendency to doubt the importance and/or relevance of voodoo (i.e. when people come into contact with more and more others who apparently live OK lives even though they are not living in accordance with that belief and consequent lifestyle and/or worldview).

    What are your opinions about the interview?

    -Dennis

  18. Dennis Warren says:

    I’ve been doing some googling, trying to locate some info about any one of the studies Mr. Brzezinski mentioned which (if I understood him correctly) indicate thriving, dynamic, creative American based Haitian communities demonstrating traditions of “self-development”. So far, I haven’t located much to support that … but of course I would like it if what he’s saying is correct.

    Actually, (once I get past all the recent stuff relating to the earthquake), I locate articles that tell the kind of story which is seen in the following article:

    Below copied from:
    HAITIAN AMERICANS (http://www.everyculture.com/multi/Du-Ha/Haitian-Americans.html)

    ===============================

    ACCULTURATION AND ASSIMILATION

    Like most immigrants in the United States, Haitians are busy in the pursuit of the American dream. Almost every Haitian American wishes to buy a home as a matter of status and security. This is implied in the saying, “Se vagabon ki loue kay,” which means, “Respectable people don’t rent.” However, behind the facade of pride and achievement, there is a litany of social problems—battered women, homeless families, and economic exploitation. The problems that face Haitian immigrants are enormous and complex. Moreover, the problem of undocumented immigrants who live in constant fear of being deported and thrown into Haitian jails has also led to stress-related emotional disorders, which frequently keep the immigrants from using such facilities as public hospitals. Instead, they rely on folk medicine to cure ordinary aliments or they seek a private clinic with Haitian medical personnel. Marc Abraham, a Haitian who has lived on Long Island for 37 years, “I think Americans see Haitians as desperate people instead of decent people who struggle.” Abraham continues: “I have to understand that hostility, I guess, to take it off my heart. I mean, this country has enough problems without ours too.”

    ===============================

    Read more: Haitian Americans – History, Modern era, The first haitians in america, Significant immigration waves, Acculturation and assimilation http://www.everyculture.com/multi/Du-Ha/Haitian-Americans.html#ixzz0dekkVenN
    ……
    ===============================

    I wonder how we can know who to trust? I don’t think I’m willing to just take what supposed “smart guys” say when they are being interviewed on TV news shows.

    Actually I guess there are so many things on the net (with varying amounts of credibility) … I suspect it wouldn’t be too hard for anyone to locate documents to back up most any point they (or I) happen to want to say …

    -Dennis

  19. Dennis Warren says:

    Hi Bob,

    Thanks for pointing me to the good resources.

    I really like the title of that book: These Words Changed Everything

    I guess when any book is written, there must be a foundational premise lurking somewhere along the lines expressed in that title!

    I’m looking forward to reading it !

    -Dennis

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