A biblical framework for sustainable development in the Reformed church in Zambia : the story of George Compound in Lusaka
Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.
The whole purpose of this research was to determine an appropriate approach to development in Zambia by the Reformed Church in Zambia (RCZ) under the theme: ‘A Biblical Framework for Sustainable Development in the Reformed Church in Zambia – The story of George Compound in Lusaka.’ George Compound located on the West of Matero Township, poverty manifests itself in many ways such as lack of good food, poor shelter, high illiteracy levels, lack of good road network, poor health, high crime rate, high levels of unemployment especially the youth who now spend most time drinking beer, high levels of prostitution, and poor sanitation. Holistic ministry has for some time now remained a great challenge for the church, the trend that was never the case with the early church as it took the issue of development seriously and effectively met needs of the poor and vulnerable people of that time. However, with time the church has either consciously or unconsciously allowed to be dictated by the Greek dualism theory (separating the spiritual from physical) in how to go about with ministry. This separation has taken such a long time that it has now become accepted by the church and secular world that the role of the church for humanity was only to concentrate on matters concerning spirituality, while leaving the social part to secular organisations. This is an affront to God who created humanity in His own image and likeness (Gen. 1: 26 – 29; 2: 7) and mandated to rule on His behalf; added to that it is in itself a distortion of Scriptures. Otherwise from the Biblical perspective humanity constitutes both the soul and body, thereby providing no justification for separating needs of the soul from those of the body because human life is a unit. The Scriptures have also revealed that at the time of creation, a living relationship was established between God and humanity, which includes the entire creation. The relationship between God and humanity is known as the vertical relationship (this involves worshipping God); while the relationship between humanity and the rest of the creation is known as the horizontal relationship (this involves caring for God’s creation). It is on record in the Scriptures that the good creation that was created by the good God was spoilt with the fall of humanity. It is the fall of humanity that has led to the unfortunate separation of responsibilities between the church and the secular world. It is in this context that the research wrestled with the question of how the RCZ could apply a Biblical framework for sustainable development in the country, but with particular attention to the story of George Compound in Lusaka. The researcher has argued that meaningful development will only take place when the church takes its strategic position in development and does it from the Biblical perspective that addresses humanity holistically. Development done from the Biblical perspective acknowledges God as the creator, sustainer and destiny of the whole creation and at the same time places humanity at the centre of it as the main objective. The hypothesis is based on the fact that poverty will be alleviated once the RCZ in the first place comes to terms with the reality of poverty and its impact on human life in the country, and then using its mandate to get involved in national development to transform people’s wellbeing. It is interesting that when missionaries from the Dutch Reformed Church Mission (DRCM) of the Orange Free State in South Africa started mission work in the Eastern Province of Northern Rhodesia then, they adopted a comprehensive approach to ministry and that enabled them to address both the spiritual and social needs of people. The DRCM missionaries passed on this understanding of development to the RCZ, but then one wonders why the RCZ after autonomy (self-governing) in 1966, gradually and without realising began to change its focus of doing ministry by concentrating so much on building people’s spiritual lives and neglecting their social needs. This research is challenging the RCZ to revisit its mandate for ministry which should lead to adopting the Biblical understanding for development. This kind of development is holistic in nature and results in transforming people’s living standards that are currently in deplorable condition. The research further suggests that for development to take place the RCZ needs to work towards transforming the world view of its members about poverty and development. This approach will invaluably help people gain better understanding on the actual causes and effects of poverty and what must be done to alleviate it, before reaching out in the communities.