Why is Africa so poor?
Africa's poverty and her hope. The poverty of Africa is so incompatible with the human and mineral resources the Creator has invested in this continent, and so incompatible with the character of the Creator, that only He can explain why Africa is so poor, and indicate what could be the way out.
(This teaching developed while I was ministering at conferences in Nairobi, Kinshasa and Harare during the spring and summer of 2004. These were my 12th, 13th, and 14th trips to Africa, the continent I am getting to love more and more.
I humbly submit this understanding to my African friends, While taking full responsibility for it, I want to thank Laban Jjumba, Intercessors for Africa, Kampala, Langton Gatsi, One Way Ministries, Harare, and Hudson Bugasu, Kenya House of Prayer.)
Par 1-4 are analitical, par 5 is confrontational, and par 6 indicates God's ways.
1 Idolatry: blocking out the God of abundance.
Idolatry, Freemasonry, Mammon-service, bloodshed at tribal and national scale before, during and after colonial times is an invitation to collaboration with other gods, and so is blocking out the God of abundance! This keeps the continent so poor.
It was God who initiated the idea of humankind worshiping, sacrificing and making covenants at tribal and national level, but this was intended to have God Himself as THE focus! Idolatry, Freemasonry, Mammon-service, bloodshed are anti-God covenantal actions. God’s response to that is, as He promised: curses and woes!
Amos 1 and 2 clearly show that God, as Judge of the earth, has recorded what nations do to each other, and seven times he says: ‘For three sins of Damascus, of Gaza (of London, of Paris) of the Ammonites, of Moab (of Holland, of Uganda, of Congo) even for four, I will not turn back my wrath.’
Curses are a normal ingredient of God-initiated covenants and illustrate the severity of covenant breaking and unrighteousness; see Lev 26. The curse of poverty is a dreadful spiritual tool of God to formalize the separation between Himself and the nation that sins: instead of abundance: drought and poverty.
- Those who curse what God has blessed, are under a curse themselves (Gen 12:3, 27:29, Numb 24:9). This primarily concerns all forms of anti-Semitism, but may also cover those who despise weak and vulnerable nations.
- Treachery activates a curse (Josh 9:23,57; Zech 5:3).
- Tyrants and revolutionaries are under a curse (Eccl 10:16, Zeph 3:10), and so are nations that exploited their subjects (Jer 22:13; Nah 3:1; Hab 2:9).
- Nations that caused bloodshed are under a curse (Ezek 24:6,9; Nah 3:1; Hab 2:12)
- Secular leaders who sin and approve of sin are under a curse (Rom 1:32,26).
Laws of course are a normal ingredient of modern life. So are covenants and curses, though not under these names; treaties, agreements, contracts, and penal clauses are the words we use, also in the rapidly increasing international legislation. These are all as binding as the covenants of old.
Thrones, symbols, banners, fetishes at the tribal and national scale are legal footholds for evil principalities. Any attention to these equals sacrificing at the altar of a not-God. Therefore God's curses apply.
Occultism is collaborating with, and using the power of evil spirits. Jesus performed miracles, not because he was God, but in order to show the kingdom of God. ‘If I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you’ (Matt 12:28). Occultism is the opposite, it the worst thing a nation can do! So God's curses apply.
These types of idolatry have been committed at tribal and national scale for centuries before, during and after colonial times, removing Africa far from God’s presence. Corporate, national and continental confession and repentance alone can reverse the curse. For hope see par 6.
(Are other continents less guilty? Western civilization was based on Judeo-Christian values, and at national level these sins have long been called sins, forming a formal base for God to bless.)
2 Ancestor worship: blocking out the God of development.
Worshipping the dead at tribal and national scale before, during and after colonial times, is blocking out the God of life! This keeps the continent so poor.
God said: “Subdue and fill the earth… You will know the way to go, since you have never been this way before… Disciple the nations… You will perform miracles greater than I did… The servant who multiplies his talents by 2 or 5 or 10 is rewarded… Your works will follow you… We are looking forward to a city to come…”
These are some of the many examples of God’s challenge to look and to move forward! That’s why “the young man shall leave his father and mother… to go forward! Time is for a purpose to be reached: from tribe to people to city, from not knowing the one true God to all knowing Him… from knowing in part to knowing fully… to become mature, attaining the whole measure of the fullness of Christ… from Fall and Babylon to redemption and the New Jerusalem.
Ancestor worship is: not leaving your father and mother but continuing to submit to them!
Leaving father and mother is: cutting the spiritual ties of submission and dependence (and guilt and anger) and becoming an independent person directly under God. Parents have 20-25 years to educate their children and must then release them, even to become a prodigal son, as did the father in Luke 15!
Honouring father and mother is: respecting and obeying the God-given authorities in God’s way, in obedience (not to father and mother but) to God! That way God is not blocked out, but He is the focus of praise and the source of guidance, leading the adult person to his destiny, leading the nation to her destiny!
Traditionally and in modern days, with state and church money for extravagant funerals, ancestor worship clouds the Father heart of God; it obscures His direct and divine protection and provision; it mutes His challenge and motivation towards His future with His intimate encouragement, it robs of the single-mindedness of heart in goal-setting and perseverance.
The sin of ancestor worship, in many modern variations, has ruled the continent at tribal and national scale for centuries, before, during and after colonial times, removing Africa far from God’s presence. Corporate, national and continental confession and repentance alone can reverse the curse. For hope see par 6.
(Are other continents less guilty? Western civilization was based on Judeo-Christian values, uniquely understanding the concept of history with a meaning. Rationalism and materialism have dangerously undermined this fruitful base of Western society, and so her access to the God of life!)
3 Flesh and individualism: corrupting society/economy and not becoming a people under God.
Allowing the flesh (the unchecked mind, will, emotions, and body) to rule, through immorality, fear, greed, bribing, individualism, self-centeredness, tribalism, at tribal and national scale before, during and after colonial times is blocking out the rule of God! This keeps the continent so poor.
Immorality leads to bondage. God-control leads to self-control! Abstinence before marriage (even abstinence from “soft” porno) and faithfulness in marriage is the norm, not just against Aids, but for all of life.
The fear of not surviving:
This fear motivates greed. "Surviving" implies "coming though at some cost," or even, "coming through at any cost." "If only I can survive this day, this week...". However, "Whoever wants to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel, will save it." (Mark 8:35). In other words: to survive we must give (life) to the Author of Life! God says: Give Me something finite even out of your finiteness, suffer your finiteness; give Me 10% of your resources and even 14% of your time, then I will give you abundance out of my infinity. Who can offer survival at all, and guarantee such a promise, other than the Author of Life?
Survival has become the major motivating force towards the end of the 20th century. The UN seems to be concentrating on the survival of Mother Earth. But God rested on the 7th day, and Abraham gave tithes to the Eternal Melchizedek (Gen 14:20), making these things universal principles. This goes completely against an economy of scarcity! Every thought that giving 10% and 14% of your (personal-business-national) money and time budgets is too much to survive, is mistrust of God, and puts you and/or your nation under a curse (Mal 3:9).
Hierarchy is not: lick up and kick down, but: worship up and care down. In the hierarchy of God – government – husband – wife/children, God establishes the flow of care down. With God out of sight, the system collapses and the “widow and orphan” suffer. But He is the God of the “widow and orphan”! Also: "The pursuit of "women's rights, children's rights" or the "rights" of the Earth, without regard to God, are forms of rebellion, overthrowing true hierarchy. These exclude God from his rightful place and keep a nation poor.
The sin of individualism, in its many modern variations, has more and more undermined tribal life, and is ruling the continent more and more, removing Africa from God’s presence. Corporate, national and continental confession and repentance alone can reverse the curse. For hope see par 6.
(Are other continents less guilty? Western civilization in this respect has been guiltier than Africa, the Judeo-Christian values only barely and less and less restraining extremes, causing a breakdown of society and economy, and removing the Western world far from God’s presence.)
4 Bondage of mind: living a lie instead of living and showing forth the truth.
Lies against your Corporate Identity, strongholds of abortion, free sex, divorce, individualism, lack of identification at tribal and national scale before, during and after colonial times block out God’s creative and liberating truth and so block out the God of truth! This keeps the continent so poor.
Corporate Identity, definition:
“”The Corporate Identity (CI) of a corporate person is a. the expression of God's character in that person, because of which it contains b. her destiny in God’s purposes, and c. her redemptive gift to her fellow nations; the Fall has distorted / corrupted the corporate identity, but it can be redeemed.””
or “”The Corporate Identity (CI) of a nation is the creative and liberating truth of God over a nation.””
To corporately know who we corporately are, the Church receives revelation, to live that truth!
For a practical example, consider the church in Antioch, where Barnabas and Saul, Jews; Simeon, an African; Lucius an Arab, and Manaen, probably an Edomite, form a truly international, intercultural, interracial leadership team. It does not matter what the CI’s are of the nations involved. Their very internationality would ruthlessly expose all unredeemed Jewish-ness, African-ness, Libyan-ness and Edomite-ness, but the Holy Spirit would eagerly employ all these identities so far as they were redeemed. That would be His opportunity to mature the church leadership and to make possible the sending of missionaries.
The church must learn to face national and cultural differences and work through the fear of differences by inviting ‘others’ into the leadership, not by giving in to prejudice or tribalism/nationalism, but by discerning and appreciating the different CI’s involved.
Major weaknesses in nations, and therefore in their churches, are caused by distortions of positive character traits that the Creator himself deposited in us.
- CI of Africa: Spiritual Authority, severely distorted internally through idolatry and ancestor worship, and externally through slave trade and colonialism. However, Africa has now started to send ‘prophets to the nations’ instead.
- CI of England: Humorous Father, in colonialism so aggressively distorted into Arrogant Empire Builder.
- CI of USA: Adventurous Leader; but its present expression as Presumptuous Leader has caused world-wide anti-Americanism.
- CI of France: Queen of Beauty; corrupted by philosophy, superficiality or manipulation.
- CI of Belgium: Creative Friend, utterly corrupted in the most cruel colonialism (Congo), also into a sense of inferiority and into cliquishness.
In Benin and in Surinam, many consider voodoo or winti a central part of their cultural heritage. In Algeria and Libya they think the same of Islam. IT IS NOT; these are oppressive forces that distort the CI.
Each of these suggestions has a national and an international application. God created the Corporate Identities. Satan only came later, with perversion of the CI and other evils. When we first recognize the God-given features in another (denomi)nation, we can more easily discern their corruption. The Church should constantly speak the creative and liberating truth of God to her nation. In the case of tribal/national prejudice: the Church must discern the Corporate Identity of these peoples, or at least get a grasp of it. To combat your prejudices, think of at least five positive qualities of, for instance, white people, Arabs, Jews, Americans, Baptists, etc.
Strongholds are piles of lies: ‘constructions of lies and reasonings, against the will of God, that control the mindset of individuals and groups in an intimidating way” (2Cor 10:4-6).
Some examples at corporate level: discrimination, national prejudice, elitism, taboos; also: accepted views of abortion, free sex, divorce, individualism, technological progress, … Other strongholds are the social acceptance of ‘soft’ pornography and ‘soft’ drugs, allowing ‘certain forms’ of abortion and divorce. Strongholds are (purposely) made intimidatingly strong.
The sin of corporately living a lie, in its many variations, has ruled the continent at tribal and national scale for centuries, before, during and after colonial times, removing Africa far from God’s presence. Corporate, national and continental confession and repentance alone can reverse the curse. For hope see par 6.
(Are other continents less guilty? Not at all! Lies, against the Corporate Identity or as a stronghold (a pile of lies) have been employed by the father of lies everywhere. The lie of white pride at the expense of black people being among the most hurtful ones)
5 The earth itself witnesses against Africa’s inhabitants, keeping the continent poor.
This section is based on the teaching of Langton Gatsi: “Dealing with the Vagabond Spirit,” delivered at the 8th Prayer Networking conference, August 2004, at Harare, Zimbabwe.
The previous sections, 1-4, are more analytical, section 5 covers the same area, but is more confrontational.
When Cain murdered his brother, God said: “What have you done? Blood cries from the ground, the ground will refuse you crop, you will be a restless wanderer, a vagabond… whoever finds you will kill you” (after Gen 4:10-14). This record of the first murder contains a terrible truth, very relevant in Africa. Three scriptures:
- Deut 30:15-19: As you sin God calls heaven and earth as witness against “you and your children”; in other words: the earth records “what have you done” against you.
- Jer 22:28-29: Land, land, land, record this man as childless, that neither he nor his offspring will prosper.
- Numb 5:17-27: The accused woman will drink water with some soil, so that, in case of hidden(!) sin, the earth can witness against her, because the earth recorded it.
The concept is this: Sin that defiles the land will cause the earth to witness against the sinner and refuse harvest, prosperity and peace, will cause the earth to vomit him out (Lev 18:26) and cause him to be a wanderer and a beggar, a vagabond. The following four sins defile the land and cause a vagabond spirit:
1 Idolatry: Ezek 7:7-8: “Doom on the land… because of your detestable practices.”
(This sin corresponds with the above par 1: Idolatry.)
2 “Bloodshed pollutes the land” (Numb 35:33-34). Atonement for the land is necessary.
3 Immorality: “If you (so) defile the land, it will vomit you out” (Lev 18:24-26).
4 “Disobedience and violation of laws defiles the earth” (Isa 24:5-8). Joy turns into bitterness.
(These three sins correspond with the above par 3: Flesh and individualism.)
The sin of defiling the land, causing the vagabond spirit, is deeply rooted in Africa, permeating society in many modern forms. Children, men, pastors and presidents are begging; earth and climate prevent harvest; the mineral-rich soil refuses to be mined; strangers take the riches; Africans are vomited out and wandering all over the Diaspora. “What have you done” Africans, through centuries of idolatry, through massacres of bloodshed, through unashamed immorality, even among Christians, through light-hearted disobedience and corruption? This has removed Africa from God’s presence. Only corporate, national and continental “atonement for the land” by the sinner or his descendant (Numb 35:33), can reverse the curse. For hope see par 6 .
(Are other continents less guilty? Western civilization was originally based on Judeo-Christian values, and as that basis evaporates, God’s basis for blessing evaporates also.)
6 The Church as model nation: You are THE salt and THE light.
Idolatry, Ancestor worship, Immorality, Bondage of the mind, and the Vagabond Spirit, at tribal and national scale before, during and after colonial times block out God! This keeps the continent poor.
The above-mentioned sins are sins, not just at individual level, but even more at collective level (socially accepted individual sins) and corporate level (tribal and national sins). Also: the above-mentioned sins were committed before, during and after colonial times. In other words: African tribes and nations cannot blame colonial times, but only themselves, for the God-determined consequences of their corporate behaviour.
These sins are very severe, and of continental scale. Easy triumphal-ism or mass-evangelism with mass conversions will not make a difference. Only a struggle towards thorough national repentance, change of the wicked ways at national scale, will make Africa turn around. This process is already starting!
The Church is THE salt and THE light of the world (Matt 5:13-14), the only salt and light to cure and cleanse and preserve and enlighten the continent of Africa. The Church is God’s only and especially chosen and empowered Partner in the Harvest of the Nations!
6a Church as model nation, properly using Holiness, Unity and Love.
God will raise up prophets like Elijah, in a way that shows that the church is not a nonentity but God’s major ally to speak to the nations. Radical unity and radical love will do that. This is already happening in Africa. It is better for the church to feel weak and cry out to God, than to be weak and remain complacent, like in the western world. The Church of Africa should not try to be western in any sense, but at the same time totally cleanse herself of (the above mentioned typical African) sins.
There is still a long way to go to radical holiness, as this attribute has been traditionally weak, and weakened through international influences (media, feminism, certain UN-related ngo’s). Immorality, fear, greed, wrong hierarchy, separately and together, lead to breakdown of society and economy… and to poverty. God clearly commands: “I am holy, you be holy too” (Lev 11:44, 1Pet 1:16).
Religiosity, rampant in any continent, individualizes, and leads to breakdown of society. But unity, love and holiness establish a base for God to bless the continent. First government leaders will be attracted, then governments will be alerted and attracted, as the Church will be salt and light.
6b The Church as model nation, properly using the Cross;
When the land has been defiled, when a tribe or nation has sinned, when wars and hatred have raged, the Cross of Jesus needs to be applied at corporate (tribal, national) level.
“Atonement for the land”
needs to be made by the sinner or his descendant (Numb 35:33). Kneeling on the land the sins need to be confessed, and the repentance (turning of the wicked ways) needs to be evident, and the land needs to be rededicated to the Lord. The owner of the land, or “government” of the area, has the responsibility to see this executed.
Identificational confession of historic corporate sins
is real and necessary. It is based on Lev 26:40-42, and illustrated in Jer 14:20-21 and 44:9-10. The principle of progressive representation is important to observe: identificational confession starts from the intercessors level (Daniel, see Dan 9), which opens the way to the spiritual leaders level (Ezra, see Ezra 9), which opens the way to the government level (Nehemiah, see Neh 1). For all national sin each level must be observed, to prevent presumption! The final or real repentance is established through the official government (top-down). Even when the social control inside the nation (the bottom-up part) does not yet follow the government, it is real. The bottom-up aspect prepares the forgiveness and, after the top-down part, applies the forgiveness.
How far back into history?
Jesus’ example of spiritual mapping, Matt 23:35-36, goes back 400 - 4000 years. “The earth will disclose the bloodshed upon her; she will conceal her slain no longer’ (Isa 26:21); we must go back to the ‘foundation’ (Hab 2:12). David takes responsibility, including restitution, for Saul’s sin against a covenant Joshua had made 400 years ago (2Sam 21). ‘What shall I do for you? How shall I make amends so that you will bless the Lord's inheritance?’ (:3).
between people groups. Both parties must dare to face the facts of pain, guilt and differences, and do proper and communicable research. That is the basis for identificational confession (through a process of progressive representation). After identificational repentance (and that means including cease-fire and stopping all animosity) the top-down establishment of the process opens the way to loving one another. In case of pain at all levels; it starts with individuals, goes progressively up until the government itself lives it out and leads the individuals to live it out among each other.
6c The Church as model nation, waging spiritual warfare at corporate level.
Spiritual warfare is not primarily confronting evil spirits, but exercising God’s power at corporate (tribal and national) level. After all the spiritual war is a war on the tribes and nations and cities! Since God wants to covenant tribes and nations (see my book "The Nations Called") the core question is: Does the church discern covenants, both old idolatrous and modern false covenants (such as legislation, treaties, UN-relations, international Queen of Heaven dynamics)? Does she have the authority to break evil covenants and establish good ones?
Reversing ancestor worship.
Jesus teaches us to hate father and mother in order to follow Him (Luke 14:26). Parents have 20-25 years to educate their children and must then release them, even to become a prodigal son, as did the father in Luke 15! Only then an individual, a congregation or a ministry, can mature directly under God. Only the Father heart of God can enlighten His direct and divine protection and provision; can declare His challenge and motivation towards His future with His intimate encouragement, can release the single-mindedness of heart in goal-setting and perseverance. The Church can show the world what freedom is, as the parents release their offspring to God’s destiny for them.
Giving as covenantal behaviour.
Not considering poverty, but considering the Giver should motivate us. Giving to God is part of the exchange of gifts between covenant partners. God says: Give Me something finite even out of your finiteness, 10% of your resources and even 14% of your time, then I will give you abundance out of my infinity!
Reversing a curse.
Since a curse is the “penalty clause” in a covenant, to reverse a curse requires going back to the original covenant. If it was a covenant with God, corporate repentance is required. If it was a covenant with idols, that covenant must be broken while immediate shelter is secured under a better covenant, with God!
A stronghold, being a pile of disconnected lies, can only be demolished 1) by calling a lie a lie; 2) by repenting of living the lie; 3) by speaking the truth; 4) by praying the truth; 5) by living the truth. First of all the Church must confront hypocrisy and publicly accepted misbehaviour and relevant lies, and call these lies. This includes the areas of bribes, abortion and divorce that have entered the church also, and even addiction to TV or football. Corporate repentance alone will open the eyes for the truth to be lived; persevering prayer will empower the Body of Christ to overcome the lie, and live the truth.
Being a prophetic Church.
The church is to speak prophetically into her nation, warning her of the ‘day of the Lord’ and the coming judgment, just as Jesus did: “Woe to you, Chorazin and Bethsaida…” The “two witnesses,” of Rev 11, are prophets to the nations, indicating the radicalism of the end-time Church! Does the church take the warning seriously that she will ‘hear of wars and rumours of wars… famines and earthquakes…’ (Matt 24:6-7)? Does the church get rid of organizational traditions that do not serve vigilance in such circumstances? The concept of “The Church ruling with Christ” means: the Church mediates between God and the tribes/nations/cities, through intercession and prophecy in the power and radicalism of the Holy Spirit (and not as a lobby group).
Dealing with ‘territorial spirits’.
Overcoming local or foreign gods, in the NT called ‘principalities’, requires revelation - about their nature to ensure appropriate cleansing, - about the authority to understand who can deal with them at all, and - about God’s time for such action. Moreover, binding-a-local-god requires a united and spotless church; casting-out-a-foreign-god requires complete identificational repentance in order to block the invitation through which that foreign god entered. These seem ‘strict rules’, and indeed, anything must be avoided to prevent presumptuousness. It requires a very mature Church to fight gods! Serving in mercy ministries:
In the ‘Judgment of the nations’ we read: ‘…whatever you did (not do) for one of the least of these, you did (not do) for me’ (Matt 25:40,45). This applies to the treatment of the Jewish brothers of Jesus, i.e. anti-Semitism. Does it also apply to the treatment of Jesus’ brothers in the spirit, i.e. persecution of the church? Does it even apply to oppression and discrimination of the weak in general, like widows and orphans, Gypsies, Kurds, Pygmees, Black minorities and Amazon-Indians? In Amos’ words against Gaza, Tyre, Ammon and Israel, the reason for punishment is the oppression of the weak: (1:6) ‘took captive whole communities and sold them;’ (1:9) ‘sold whole communities of captives; (1:13) ripped open the pregnant women;’ (2:6) sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals, trample on the heads of the poor … deny justice to the oppressed.’ (See also Jer 47-51, Micah 6:8; James 1:27). Is the church alert, sensitive, active, organized, known, even in the midst of oppression and upheaval, for mercy ministries, in view of the judgment to come, as a way of being prepared and preparing her nation for judgment?
Aiming for nations to covenant with God.
God had a “covenant with all nations” (Zech 11:10) and still/again wants to have that. Already two African nations have covenanted to God, "= Zambia " (1991) and Benin (1997), and two Pacific nations, Tonga and Vanuatu (2002). In Nigeria recently fourteen tribal kings covenanted their tribes to God, with reported spiritual breakthroughs. The republic of Fiji is in the process of covenanting to God, and impressive ecological miracles of healing of the land are taking place, see " Transformation in the Pacific "! In Laban Jumba’s words: “The Nations have to make a choice between the UN-Babylonic system and the Commonwealth of Israel.” This form of covenantal thinking and acting and working towards one's nation to cut UN ties and covenant to God, is a big thing - do the intercessors and the Church think this big, so that they can mediate this way between God and their nation?
Entering the main mission fields; “redeeming the market place.”
Does the church realize that education, business, health care and politics are the four major “mind-molders,” and therefore the most important mission fields? This has lately been coined: “redeeming the market place.” The church should educate and support her members to have schooling and vision for this very purpose. Africans should not try to become western, not even redeemed-western. They should be fully redeemed Africans, cleansed individually and corporately of their traditional sins and ways, towards Kingdom focussed and Kingdom driven and Kingdom sanctified zeal and industriousness in business and society. Establishing Kingdom Values in society is the invaluable “bottom-up” dynamic of discipling a whole nation, while the nation covenanting to God is the key “top-down” part in this process.
- Africa, of all continents, seems to be the most ready for these end-time dynamics of God. If the Church of Africa is a model nation to Africa, Africa will no longer be poor!
- It seems that God is confounding the wise (and the white) by doing His Kingdom pilot projects in Africa!