But even if every weak or corrupt African government were magically overturned and replaced by a democratic one, present conditions would largely persist without a concomitant uplifting of the African spirit--confidence in the knowledge that, as a creation of God, each person has meaning, purpose and dignity.

 

Here at home in our media-saturated culture, where the thorniest problem is solved in 30 minutes or less, the long-term resolve needed for Africa will be a significant challenge for those who have been content to write a $100 check for the latest world crisis. 

 

Warren's PEACE
One person who has studied the African situation and invested his efforts to address it is The Purpose-Driven Life author, Rick Warren. 

 

Warren patterns his strategy after the ministry of Jesus. Noting that Jesus planted a church, equipped leaders, assisted the poor, cared for the sick and educated the people, Warren aims to do likewise, calling his plan PEACE for Plant, Equip, Assist, Care, and Educate.   

 

Central to Rick Warren's strategy is the involvement of the local church.   Pastor Warren understands that the solution to Africa's plight rests in bottom-up rather than top-down change. Accordingly, Warren calls for the local church to channel and export expertise to African communities to help them set up and operate clinics, businesses, churches, and schools.

 

The idea is to facilitate the move from a subsistence economy to a market-based economy,  enabling the African people to manage and maintain their own infrastructure for spiritual, material and intellectual well-being.

 

A bishop's vision
I recently had the privilege of spending an afternoon with Tanzanian Bishop Philip Baji, along with several other local Christians. During the afternoon we had the opportunity to ask Bishop Bali about the challenges of his country.

 

Unlike many sub-Saharan nations, Tanzania has been politically stable with an elected government since 1961 and a multi-party system since 1995. Although Tanzania has not experienced the tragedy of genocide and ongoing war, it is the home of hundreds of thousands refugees from neighboring countries like Uganda, Burundi, and the Congo.

 

Globally, Tanzania ranks fifth in AIDS deaths, fourteenth in infant mortality with major health risks from malaria and typhoid, and has one of the world's lowest gross domestic products at $700 per capita.

 

With 58 parish churches, Bishop Baji's diocese operates several hospitals and clinics, two secondary schools, and one bible school. It is also involved in agro-forestry and nutrition improvement programs aimed at improving the health and economic status of the poor. In the near term, the diocese also has plans to open several new churches and support other dioceses in the region in the start up of an Anglican university.