South Sudan Crisis

Why Africa is Behind, Revisited

In 2006 I pondered this question. That article focused upon geographical and moral reasons, which included the loss of millions of Africans to slavery, and HIV/AIDS (often caused by behavior contrary to biblical standards).  Geographical reasons included Eurasian advantages in agriculture, due to domesticated animals, and in commerce--due to animal transport, and the presence of the tsetse fly in Sub-Saharan Africa, which killed such animals. Better Eurasian agriculture led to more complex societies, allowing standing armies and more efficient government, etc.

Further geographical differences between Europe and Africa include poorer soil in Africa, less reliable rainfall and a climate without a freeze that kills bacteria and insects (such as malarial mosquitos)1. Africa has fewer navigable rivers than Europe or China, due to less rainfall and to a high central plateau, creating rapids near the coasts, and has fewer natural harbors than Europe2. Both the Sahara Desert and the rainforests of central Africa hindered interaction with other civilizations, and the advantages that often result3.

The presence of vast African mineral wealth is a mixed advantage4. Such wealth may foster wars to control it, as in the Republic of the Congo and Angola. Mineral wealth depends upon technology to maximize it, and generally natural resources are shipped for development to nations outside of Africa, such as China. Sowell is the first person I’ve read to state that difficult environments develop cultural qualities that can be a long-term advantage, something I’ve believed5. Africa did not force people to survive lethal cold, for example. Africans survived as hunter-gatherers over millennia. While they were expert in controlling their environment through a multitude of technological inventions, they did not exploit resources that Western nations did, through the application of science to their environments6.  In Africa today, more importance is placed upon wisdom gained by experience than upon formal education, putting Africa further behind7.

The geography of Africa has exacerbated the human tendency toward ethnocentricity—that We are the people! Due to the lack of Rapids on the Victoria Nile, Ugandaanimal or river transport in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as the physical barrier that rivers and forests present, peoples have resisted mixing, and have developed their own languages8. Africa has 13 percent of earth’s population, but 30 percent of global living languages9.  Trade has suffered and the tribe has commanded more loyalty than the nation10. Further, colonial powers created nations that did not follow tribal lines, in order to divide and conquer--only three African nations are ethnically uniform11. When colonizers left, tribes vied for leadership12. Unsurprisingly, East and West Africa score highly on collectivism in attitude surveys, where preference for one’s in-group is normal and considered ethical13. Herder tribes, such as found in East Africa and S. Sudan, have “strong out-group suspicion”, since their wealth is mobile and can be taken with force14. The Nuer/Dinka inter-generational mutual cattle-raiding forms the background of current hostilities in S. Sudan. Here is a worldview predisposed to fragmentation and hostility, rampant in Africa, and illustrated by national genocides, as in Rwanda. Add to this the proximity of Christians and Muslims, and predispositions have been inflamed, as Boko Haram atrocities in Nigeria, and Christian/Muslim fighting in the Central African Republic attest.

An unbiblical worldview is evident in African politics. Instead of servant-leadership is a Big Man (chief) mentality. Those succeeding to high office often use it for personal and tribal gain. Infant democracy often becomes mature kleptocracy—leadership by thieves. Nigerian rulers stole approximately 370 billion dollars of oil income by 200515. Fourteen African nations are perceived to be even more corrupt than Nigeria16! Between 1970 and 2009, 1.8 trillion dollars illicitly flowed out of Africa, money generally from criminal activities17. African leaders often are, or hope to be, president-for-life (think Robert Mugabe at 90), further entrenching systems. Theft of public funds results in less services for citizens, including poorer transportation, education, health systems, communications, etc.

A short-term economic perspective is not as beneficial to development as a long-term perspective. For example, Africa’s growth is largely based upon commodities—extraction for export, a holdover from the colonial era18. A longer-term perspective is to add value to raw materials by making something of them before Paul and Suzanne - hopeful converts in 2008shipment, for greater profit. Among 93 nations, African nations are all grouped in the half representing short-term orientation, versus long-term orientation19. Successful middlemen, who add value to retail goods, are often not of sub-Saharan origin—Indians in East Africa, Arabs in S. Sudan, or Lebanese in W. Africa20 for example.

Foreign aid is the main source of income to many African nations, having received 1 trillion dollars since the 1940s (and aid is easily diverted)21. One estimate is that 130 billion dollars in aid from the World Bank has been misused since 194622.

African governments view aid as a permanent, reliable, consistent source of income and have no reason to believe that the flows won’t continue into the indefinite future. There is no incentive for long-term financial planning…when all you have to do is sit back and deposit the cheques23.

One study found a negative correlation between aid and savings, and domestic savings is the most important source for investment24.

May - July 2014

Issue 76

In This Issue:

1.  Why Africa is Behind, Revisited

2.  2014 Trips

3. Prayer Power

2014 International
Ministry Opportunities

S. Sudan
July 12–26, 2014


Our eighth trip. If you sense God wants you to join us, please contact us. Evangelists, teachers, builders and medical personnel are needed. The fee is $2300, plus airfare to Africa, visas, immunizations and outfitting. Please contact us at 423-822-1091 for updated information.

August 16–28, 2014


Our fourth partnership with this well-established and loving Indian ministry, we need teachers of men and women for several venues. The fee is $2,300, plus airfare to India, visa, immunizations and outfitting. Apply now.

Prayer & Praise

S. Sudan

•  Pray for peace and penetration of the Gospel into the deep structures of the cultures.

•  Ellen Fox returned to Lohutok for now, no details. Please pray for wisdom and protection.

•  Wisdom is needed in planning July 2014 trip—who might come along, where and what we'll do.

•  Wisdom for the best use of the block machine already in S. Sudan.

Wisdom for Africa projects proposals for Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church, due in July

Westside housing project

•  Wisdom is needed to identify and to know how best to make new disciples there, and for God to draw M&T to Jesus. Pray for divine appointments Thursday afternoons.

•  The children's ministry of Abba's House is going well.

•  Kippy is growing through a Life Transformation Group—completed three meetings to date.

For new Board Members and veterans—wisdom in oversight, leadership and planning

India—new visa restrictions make it very difficult to recruit team members through a tourist visa. Pray for a veteran couple who plan to serve there in August

The website is improving through the work of Walt Robertson. PowerPoints have been reformatted and are being viewed (4,600 views at last count) and downloaded online

Jim Sutherland, PhD, Director

PO Box 2537
Chattanooga, TN 37409-0537

Phone: 423.822.1091

Mobilizing Primarily the African American Church for Global Mission

NASA image of AfricaThese overviews of African maladies are not comprehensive25. Where is hope? Obviously not in more money. To change a worldview—and these are worldview problems--people need new minds, perspectives and values. To move from partiality to impartiality, from graft to honesty and from being served to serving requires the radical ingress of the Holy Spirit, nurtured by truth from the Bible. This comes from new life in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).

Robert D. Woodberry’s seminal research into the historical relationship between evangelical missionaries (Conversionary Protestants) and democracy found:

In cross-national statistical analysis Protestant missions are significantly and robustly associated with higher levels of printing, education, economic development, organizational civil society, protection of private property, and rule of law and with lower levels of corruption….”26

The good news is that Africa is moving from being 39 percent Christian in 1970, to 49 percent by 2020. African Christianity is growing at a rate of 2.6 percent in 2014, the highest of any continent27. More importantly, evangelicals comprised 10.8 percent of all Africans in 2010, and are projected to increase to 11.3 percent by 202028. Christian schools at all levels are still a major educational force, from my observation.

Africans are often taking a stronger stand for biblical morality than Western churches. Being in the Body of Christ can be a far stronger loyalty than nationalism or even tribalism. Africans are going north to reach Muslims and disciple-making-movements are multiplying in North Africa, of all places29.  Developing strong African Christian leaders is a good investment to effect the deep structural change so desperately needed. Wise partnerships between churches outside and inside of Africa can help. The evangelical church in Africa remains the best institution to continue the transformations initiated by early evangelicals, and is Africa’s best hope. Let us know if we can assist in creating transformative partnerships in S. Sudan or Uganda.
Jim Sutherland


1   Race and Culture: A world view, Thomas Sowell, 1994, ISBN: 0465067972, p. 13, 237. Examples are the Zaire River and the Victoria Nile, in Uganda; Robert D. Woodberry, “The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy,” American Political Science  Review, Vol. 106, #2, May 2012, p. 258.
2   Sowell, p. 13, 236-7.
3   Noah’s Three Sons: Human History in Three Dimensions, Arthur C. Custance, Vol. 1: The Doorway Papers, p. 311-12,
4   Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working And How There Is A Better Way For Africa, Dambisa Moyo, 2009, ISBN: 9780374532123, p. 59
5   Sowell, p. 239.
6   Custance p. 257-60, 349.
7   Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind, 3rd ed., Geert Hofstede, Gert Jan Hofstede, Michael Minkov, 2010, ISBN: 9780071664189, p. 273.
8   Sowell, p. 237; The Africans, David Lamb, 1983, ISBN: 0394753089, p. 11.
9 accessed 4/28/14. Asia has 32% of languages, but twice the population of Africa.
10 Sowell, p. 238.
11 Lamb, p. 11, Somalia, Lesotho and Swaziland.
12 Lamb, p. 9.
13 Hofstede et al., p. 122-3, technically particularism, p. 218.
14 Hofstede et al., p. 445.
15 John Vidal, “How kleptocracy kept the people poor,” accessed 4/29/14.
16 Corruption Perceptions Index, 2013, accessed 4/29/14.
17 Mohammed Adow, “Out of Africa: The great money migration,” Aljazeera, accessed 4/30/14.
18 “Making the Most of Africa’s Commodities,” Economic Report on Africa, 2013 (UN & AU)  accessed 4/29/14, p. 7-8.
19 Hofstede et al., p. 239, 255-257, 273-275.
20 Sowell, p. 33.
21 Moyo, p. 25, 35, 46, aid is “fungible,” or easily used for other purposes.
22 Moyo, p. 52.
23 Moyo, 36.
24 Moyo, p. 46, 138.
25 Low valuation of females, lack of the rule of law and freedom of the press could be addressed.
26 Woodberry, p. 267-8.
27 Todd M. Johnson and Peter F. Crossing, “Status of Global Mission, 2014, in the Context of AD 1800-2025,” Int’l Bulletin of Missionary Research, Jan. 2014, p. 29.
28 “Christianity in Global Context, 1970-2020: Society, Religion and Mission,” Center for the Study of Global Christianity, p. 17.
29 See Miraculous Movements, by Jerry Trousdale, 2012, ISBN: 9781418547288, and The Father Glorified, by Patrick Robertson