Friday, December 14, 2007

Faith-based initiatives in Sierra Leone?

Speaking to a handful of journalists in Freetown, Apostle Alfred T. B. Williams said churches can create avenues to help and invest in poverty alleviation programmes.

Government alone cannot reduce poverty. Churches can do something to attract their communities. Churches can create community-based programmes, provide for the poor and the needy by teaching them the love of Christ and reducing crime by administering the youths," he said.

Apostle Williams opines that to raise the needed finance is not a problem as it has been written in the Bible that: "the earth is the Lord's and its fullness thereof; the world and they that dwell therein." He said the aim of his visit to Sierra Leone is to hold meetings with church and government leaders to integrate what God is doing in Africa and then called on churches to concentrate more on the words of God.

While the idea behind faith-based initiatives may sound appealing, in the U.S. the plan hasn't completely panned out. That’s more a cause of U.S. politics than ecumenism gone bad. In West Africa religion is much more culturally fluid and dynamic, and most churches and mosques maintain large communities, so it could be a useful tool for assisting populations. In fact, some development agencies already leverage houses of worship for outreach programs, especially in often neglected rural areas. I know in the predominately Muslim northern part of Burkina Faso, it is said that Catholic churches provide needed community organization for development outreach, especially in the area of food security. As long as churches don't turn people away on account of their beliefs, this is a good thing.

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