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The Purpose Driven Nation

posted by awelborn

Rick Warren in Rwanda:

For months the clergyman has alluded in general terms to an immense volunteer effort called the PEACE plan, aimed at transforming 400,000 churches in 47 nations into centers to nurse, feed and educate the poor and even turn them into entrepreneurs. Its details remain unknown, but its Rwandan element seems to have outrun the rest. Warren says he was "looking for a small country where we could actually work on a national model," and Kagame, impressed by The Purpose-Driven Life, volunteered Rwanda in March. In July Warren and 48 other American Evangelicals, who have backgrounds in areas like health, education, micro-enterprises and justice, held intensive planning meetings with Rwandan Cabinet ministers, governors, clergy and entrepreneurs. One dinner was attended by a third of the Rwandan Parliament. Says Scott Moreau, a professor of missiology at Wheaton College in Illinois: "I’ve never heard of this level of cooperation in the last 100 years between any megachurch, mission agency or even a denomination and a national government."

Warren will not quote a budget for the effort, stressing its volunteer nature. But he talks of sending each Rwandan church kits he calls "school in a box," "clinic in a box," "business in a box" and so on. (The "clinic," he says, might include medicines for malaria and eventually AIDS, with guides for their administration.) He has tapped Saddleback congregants to talk with the heads of specific Rwandan sectors. Sam Smith, a retired U.S. federal administrative judge just returned from Kigali, says he hopes to send U.S. police, prosecutors and judges to advise their African counterparts in areas like sexual-assault investigation and police-lab construction. Warren also expects about 500 of the "small groups" that make up Saddleback to "adopt" individual Rwandan villages and begin sending short-term visitors in the fall. With a preacher’s flair, he compares the program to a starter batch of yeast that someone once gave to his mother, which engendered 20 years’ worth of pancakes.

Rwandan officials are eager to get started. "The program seems like something that will lift our country in many ways," says Minister of Youth, Culture and Sports Joseph Habineza. The project also enjoys the moral support of White House faith-based initiatives czar James Towey, who says, "In the past, government has been indifferent or hostile toward efforts such as this one. That is not the case with this Administration."



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Phil Hoover

posted August 17, 2005 at 1:52 pm


WOW…
Just what the Scriptures command us to do, and Rick Warren (along with the saints at Saddleback Church) are being obedient to the biblical commands!
May the richness and favor of God’s overwhelming blessing be upon this endeavor from beginning to end.
God bless Pastor Warren and the people of Saddleback Church!



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Sherry Weddell

posted August 17, 2005 at 2:42 pm


Re: the T.D. Jakes discussion below: One thing about wealthy mega-churches, they can dream big and tackle huge projects.
Imagine – this is a single church, a single “parish” of say, 20,000 people attempting to really impact a whole African nation that has already been “burned” by the relative indifference of the world in recent history.
Saddleback is a congregation founded to be an “apostle factory” as one of our C & G teachers puts it. The goal is not just evangelizing the unchurched into the pews but systemically forming new Christians into mature disciples and apostles and releasing them to impact the world. It really isn’t about food courts, folks.
Can any of us imagine a huge Catholic diocese like Chicago or LA with 50 times their numbers attempting such a thing – even if they weren’t wrestling with the financial fall-out of the scandal?
I’m sure that that results will be partial and mixed as all such interventions are in a fallen world but does it therefore follow that it is mere hubris or pointless to attempt such a thing? Or is it that a large community of well-formed apostles with lots of resources can dream bigger dreams than we are used to?



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Christine

posted August 17, 2005 at 3:03 pm


Not at all. May God bless them abundantly. But the danger is, as always, that a mentality like that of Joyce Meyers and Rod Parsley and will set in, in Parsley’s case that allows him to justify in his own mind living in a million dollar house with all the affluent goodies he can get.
I by no means anticipate all megachurches to go that route. But it is a danger, and I think Jakes recognizes it.



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John J. Simmins

posted August 17, 2005 at 3:11 pm


My old parish in Walkersville, MD (850 families) had adopted a parish in Hati and has sent tens of thousands of dollars over the last couple of years, while trying to raise almost $2M for new facilities. So, yes, I can imagine it. Sometimes, you don’t ask, you don’t get.



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reluctant penitent

posted August 17, 2005 at 3:31 pm


From the article:
‘Warren talks of turning Rwanda into “the first purpose-driven nation.”‘
Can anyone explain what that means and whether it would be a good thing for a nation to be ‘purpose’driven’?



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TT

posted August 17, 2005 at 3:43 pm


I think that these guys at Saddleback were smart to send mostly advice and expertise. Cash poured into places like Rwanda have a way of turning into real estate in the South of France and numbered accounts in Switzerland.



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Christine

posted August 17, 2005 at 4:00 pm


“Cash poured into places like Rwanda have a way of turning into real estate in the South of France and numbered accounts in Switzerland.”
Ah yes. There’s that little matter of corruption in some of Africa’s leadership. Loads of food waiting on docks that is not allowed to be distributed. One luminary who was willing to starve the peasants in the countryside rather than risk riots in the city. The legacies of Idi Amin, Robert Mugambe, etc.
It ain’t always the bad old West.
I’m grateful for agencies such as Catholic World Relief, who can get in where I can’t.



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Christineq

posted August 17, 2005 at 4:02 pm


My parish has a sister relationship with a parish in Haiti. Hoping to undo some of the greed left by the Duvalier legacy.



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Jeremy Rich

posted August 17, 2005 at 8:24 pm


The present government of Rwanda has been backing brutal militias in neighboring DR Congo for the last decade, and Rwandan military officers have enriched themselves through control over Congolese mineral wealth (gold, diamonds, etc.). Check out the Amnesty International USA, the Committee to Protect Journalists, or Human Rights Watch website for coverage on the lack of freedom in the country. Given the horrors that have transpired there, it is little wonder democracy has failed to flourish, but people should not simply assume that the present regime is just working out of noble intentions.
Paul Kagame’s government is looking for positive press and contacts in the US, and this will be one way to get them. I hope this group will actually do some good, but all too often Rwandan politicans have been quite apt at manipulating foreign observers to serve their own ends (see Johan Pottier’s Re-Imagining Rwanda). Americans getting involved will need prayer and they will need to keep very close attention to how they work in the country.



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Jonathan

posted August 17, 2005 at 9:08 pm


I find this a little frustrating. I just spent a year in Sudan, and it seemed to me that the problems with the country went sooooo much deeper than lack of knowledge and poor infrastructure. In addition, the best-intentioned short-term missionary efforts of us Westerners had a way of backfiring on everyone, both the missionaries and the locals.
Perhaps the situation in Rwanda is different, but IMHO what Africa needs from the church more than anything else is the example and influence of Christians willing to give up their lives and live among people in a specific village or tribe, sharing their sorrows, struggles, burdens, and joys, and being Christ year in and year out, not being able to go on “arenare” when they get tired.
I am less confident in the ability of Western Christians – who blow in and out, come to Africa to “do things” to the people and then go right back to their previous lives – to accomplish in any very meaningful way the real work of the gospel.



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Septimus

posted August 17, 2005 at 9:10 pm


Speaking of Haiti . . .
I’ve wondered what would happen if we went in and took over . . . and rebuilt . . . Haiti, as we are attempting to do in Iraq. Of course, poor Haiti, the Lazarus nation at our gate, isn’t any *threat* to us . . . just desperately in need.
What would happen? Assuming a President did it; setting to one side whether he should, or not… How long would it take? What would it cost?
Would it work?



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L.T.

posted August 17, 2005 at 11:55 pm


I’m surprised no one has yet noticed the sad contrast of Rwanda as a Catholic-majority nation, after having experienced one of the most vicious genocides in human history, is now hungry for concrete assistance from American evangelicals. Shame on us that Eucharistic communion couldn’t keep Rwandans from hacking each other to pieces. If the evangelicals succeed in transforming Rwanda into a prosperous, peaceful nation, it will be a reminder of our Church’s failure to be a “real presence” there.



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Jay

posted August 18, 2005 at 1:35 am


Folks this article reminds me of something I came across recently about effecting “social changes”:
“The Six or Seven Axioms of Mass Social Change”
http://tinyurl.com/cx5q7
http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/003171.html
Might I ask you guys/gals opinions on this, especially as regards to the Church or missionary efforts?
For what it’s worth, might as well check these out as well:
“The Prophet”
http://tinyurl.com/9a9xm
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1282/is_1_57/ai_n13610455
Be Not Afraid
http://tinyurl.com/exd5a
http://surgite.blogspot.com/2005/08/be-not-afraid.html
While the focus here is on what foreigners could teach Rwanda, maybe we could learn a thing or 2 from them as well; note in the quote in the post the mention of judicial/police assistance–well, couldn’t help but be reminded of this:
http://tinyurl.com/ckbf2
http://wired.com/news/planet/0,2782,68127,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_1
http://tinyurl.com/baqa3
http://www.ashdenawards.org/finalist05_2.html
Would greatly appreciate you guys/gals opinions on these.
Thanks.



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Jeremy Rich

posted August 18, 2005 at 5:51 am


Septimus -
America already tried to run Haiti. The US occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1934. United States officials could veto power over all governmental decisions in Haiti, and Marine Corps commanders served as administrators in the provinces.
On L.T.’s comments -
I hope Rwanda can become a prosperous country one day, and certainly Protestant churches have made inroads. The fact Catholic missionaries had supported royal interests at the expense of the vast majority of the population during colonial times, and helped to put together the idea of a separate racial Tutsi identiy, helped create the atmosphere of hate that had dogged the region for decades. But previous American evangelical work with African politicans has not been always successful. Pat Robertson defended Charles Taylor, a very cruel and greedy warlord in Liberia, and backed Joseph-Desire Mobutu, the man who made a corruption an art form in his thirty year reign of terror in Congo.
I don’t think there are many Clovis types out there who will simply do what missionaries want after a sudden conversion! Jonathan is right – fly by night aid packages do less than a serious willingness by missionaries to stay and work and learn.



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inhocsig

posted August 18, 2005 at 6:27 am


Rick Warren is quite a pastor. He and his family live very modestly. He wears a suit only once a year – on Mother’s Day to honor his wife. When he started his ministry, Warren went door to door and asked people why they didn’t go to church. 78% of his flock had no religious background. He is very friendly to Catholics and has noted that working together Evangelicals & Catholics would comprise a majority. Warren is also quick to remind folks that he is a pastor and not a politician. We should all pray for his church’s efforts in such a sad place as Rwanda.



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A. Noël

posted August 18, 2005 at 8:03 am


reluctant penitent: the “purpose driven” reference is to Warren’s bestselling book, “The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth am I Here For?”



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reluctant penitent

posted August 18, 2005 at 10:17 am


L.T.’s bizzare claims are echoed by ‘human rights advocates’:
‘Human-rights advocates are demanding an apology from the Catholic Church for its alleged role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, arguing the church did not do enough to stop the killings.’
(http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4615171)
Let me get this straight. The UN was in charge of keeping the peace in Rwanda but the Church is responsible because ‘it did not do enough.’
Here’s another article about Rwanda that has JPII prominently displayed with the quote “The Church cannot be held responsible for the guilt of its members”:
http://www.afrol.com/Countries/Rwanda/backgr_cross_genocide.htm
The problem is, if you read it more closely, it’s not really a case agains the Catholic Church at all:
‘The extreme cases include the Anglican bishop Samuel Musabyimana, who allegedly “was responsible for killing or causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the Tutsi population with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a racial or ethnic group”. Another extreme is the sentence against two Catholic nuns, Sisters Gertrude Mukangango and Julienne Kisito, for their involvement in the slaughter of at least 5,000 civilians that had sought refuge in their monastery at Sovu. Archbishop Augustin Nshamihigo and the coadjutor Bishop of Kigali, Jonathan Ruhumuliza, were seen describing the government responsible for orchestrating the genocide as “peace-loving” at a Nairobi press conference in early June 1994. The accusations against clergy of the Free Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist and Seventh-Day Adventist Churches are equally shocking. According to survivors, Bishop Aaron Ruhumuliza, head of the Free Methodist Church in Gikondo, Kigali, helped the militia carry out a massacre in his own church on 9 April 1994. Michel Twagirayesu, the President of the Presbyterian Church of Rwanda and a former vice-president of the World Council of Churches, is alleged to have worked closely with the killers in the Presbyterian stronghold of Kirinda, Kibuye, betraying parishioners and fellow-clergy alike, according to a report by African Rights.’
If you’re interested in a fact-filled discussion of why it is that the Catholic Church is a preferred target for the current regime in Rwanda here is a very good article:
http://www.catholic.net/rcc/Periodicals/Igpress/2000-07/rwanda2.html
It includes discussion of some of the more bizzarre elements surrounding the trial of Catholic Bishop Augustin Misago of Gikongoro. Here are some details about the Bishop’s trial:
‘The prosecution in Bishop Misago’s trial, which presented its case against the bishop in a series of hearings during the autumn of 1999, was unable to provide compelling evidence of the bishop’s involvement. In fact, at times the prosecution seemed to be arguing not that the bishop helped to plan the massacre, or that he was a material accomplice to the killers, but simply that he was slow to deliver aid to the survivors.When the defense finally began to present its case for Bishop Misago in December 1999, the prosecution suffered a serious embarrassment. One of the first defense witnesses was a young man who had been listed in the prosecution’s indictment as among the victims of the Kigeme massacre—the incident on which the prosecution’s case was built. This surprise witness not only appeared in court, alive and well, but also gave Bishop Misago credit for saving his life. The trial took another interesting turn on January 18 of this year when a witness for the defense reported that she had received a series of threats as soon as it became known that she would testify on behalf of the bishop. Despite those threats, she stood before the court to say that, on the day of the massacre, Bishop Misago had brought ten boys to the hospital for medical checkups and treatments. The boys were receiving care at the Kigeme medical center at the moment when a militia troops arrived, she said. The militia then killed the boys, despite the bishop’s efforts to save them.’
Let us pray that, when Rwanda becomes a ‘purpose-driven nation’ its regime will end the persecution of the Church.



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reluctant penitent

posted August 18, 2005 at 10:22 am


Here is some information about what Catholic Relief Services are doing in Rwanda:
http://www.catholicrelief.org/our_work/where_we_work/overseas/africa/rwanda/index.cfm
You can give them money if you like. Just think of it as a ‘mega-charity.’



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reluctant penitent

posted August 18, 2005 at 10:28 am


Here is an article from our Protestan bretheren about Bishop Misago’s acquittal that simply alleges that he was unjustly acquitted without offering any evidence:
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2000/125/23.0.html
Apparently it was JPII’s letter to the court that got Bishop Misago acquitted. The fact that the evidence supported the Bishop’s claims of innocence is not mentioned.



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L.T.

posted August 18, 2005 at 1:10 pm


RP, fine points, but I wasn’t trying to blame Church leadership so much as to lament over the moral-political influence of Catholicism in that country, in light of Warren’s new initiatives. I have no interest in pursuing the latest anti-Vatican conspiracy theory. But last I checked Rwanda was over 90% Catholic, making it one of the most Catholic nations in Africa. So I think it’s a reasonable bet that fellow communicants were raising machetes against each other. How does one do that after partaking in the Eucharist? That’s not rhetorical. I just don’t get it. I mean, it’s one thing to refuse shaking hands during the Peace, but to hack them off with machetes?
Maybe I’m just naive, but I thought the Eucharist naturally imposes and inculcates into us certain prophylactic disciplines and virtues at minimum, such as not chopping my neighbor to pieces. I’m not even talking about doing more to stop the violence; I’m just talking about Catholics who butchered fellow Catholics. I really don’t care how much worse other churches were or how innocent our bishops were. But when other churches are better than us, in countries that we evangelized to the tune of 90%+, something’s wrong. I’m a regular Mass-goer but I have yet to hear any initiatives to assist our sister church in Rwanda, despite the horrors that even the secular world now knows. I’ve heard more about Sri Lanka where Catholics are only a tiny percentage of the population. I’m not blaming anyone, just shaking my head aloud, knowing that’s not worth much either.



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reluctant penitent

posted August 18, 2005 at 2:08 pm


‘How does one do that after partaking in the Eucharist? That’s not rhetorical.’
Do you have evidence that people did such things ‘after partaking in the Eucharist’? Do you have anything to support the contention that these were good Church-going Catholics committing crimes? I’m not saying that that sort of thing is impossible. I’m just advising a bit of caution rather than jumping to conclusions based on no evidence other than that 90% of Rwanda’s population is at least nominally Catholic.
‘when other churches are better than us, in countries that we evangelized to the tune of 90%+, something’s wrong’
What evidence do you have that the Protestant denominations are better? We do know that we have a government that is openly hostile to the Church and persecuting Catholic clergy. Mr. Warren is now cooperating with that same government to turn Rwanda into a ‘purpose driven nation.’ I just don’t see any immediate evidence that the denominations are doing anything better.
As far as charity work is concerned, yes there are Catholic charities doing quite a lot of aid work there (in addition to Sri Lanka and countries in which Catholics are in the minority). CRS is a big one, and I gave you their web address above, where you will find a description of what they do in Rwanda. I am sure that they would appreciate your financial help.



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Cecil

posted August 18, 2005 at 7:11 pm


The Catholic Church does more charitable work throughout the world than any other religious or secular group. I will give kudos to Rick Warren, but the Catholic Church has been aiding people around the world since her founding by Our Lord.



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Jay

posted August 19, 2005 at 1:59 am


The problem, Cecil, is that it doesn’t seem to be enough.
Take a look at this brief review of a book concerning Guatemala from First Things:
http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft9808/reviews/briefly.html#soul
And take a look at this too–and please comment on it:
http://www.techcentralstation.com/062405C.html
This article does kind of remind me of a discussion on a political forum I belong to; as a thought exercise, we dicussed neo-imperial scenarios; one member suggested that if it were up to him, he’d replace the Catholic Church in Rwanda with the Mormons, convinced that the cultural transformation would heal divsions, and reslt in a culture more fitting with entreprenurialism. Or something like that…
Anyway, how do you feel about this?



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reluctant penitent

posted August 19, 2005 at 9:42 pm


Oh yes, Guatamala is an Evangelical wonderland, with the Evangelical Christian dictator Rios Montt applying the Protestant work ethic to the difficult task of persecuting the Catholic Church. Just an example:
’1998 – Bishop Juan Gerardi Conedera presents the Roman Catholic Church’s Recovery of Historical Memory (‘Never Again’) Report detailing the Guatemalan Army’s involvement in the atrocities of the civil war. The report attributes about 90% of human rights violations committed during the conflict to the state forces. Two days later, on 26 April, the bishop is beaten to death.’
(http://www.moreorless.au.com/killers/montt.html)
Amy Sherman, by the way is hardly a disinterested scholar. Here is part of her bio:
‘She is the founder and former Executive Director of Charlottesville Abundant Life Ministries (CALM), a holistic, cross-cultural, whole-family, church-based outreach in an urban neighborhood of approximately 380 lower-income, single-parent families. From its Abundant Life Family Center in the heart of the neighborhood, CALM offers educational programs for children, mentoring for teens, and Biblically-based job training programs for adults.’
(http://www.hudsonfaithincommunities.org/fic/staff.html)
I love here line about Gutemala being a ‘Christo-pagan’ country before the Evangelicals came in.



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