In order for a society to grow, industry should be encouraged to bring opportunities for everyone in an environmentally friendly way, supported with resilient infrastructure.
Amos 9:14 says ‘I will bring my people Israel back from exile. They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them.’ It is well know that the story of the Bible begins in a garden and ends in a city. What does the Bible have to say about urbanisation or industrialisation and does this really have anything to do with ending poverty?
Disability and Child Protection by UNICEF
+ THEOLOGICAL REFLECTION
I will bring my people Israel back from exile. They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. Amos 9:14
It is well known that the story of the Bible begins in a garden and ends in a city. It would be crass to say that the entire Biblical narrative was one of urbanisation, or even industrialization, these things clearly mean much more than that. It is nevertheless true though that as God leads his people though significant change, and in that shifting, has them experience ever more complex environments, He is well capable of bringing about His good purposes. Of course, metaphor is once again at play here, but it is not only the ultimate city of God with which He is concerned. Much more practically, Nehemiah returned to his home city to ensure it was rebuilt. Jeremiah told exiles to pray for the new city that they would come to call home, to build houses, settle down, plant gardens, invest in the place where they were. (Jeremiah 29:5). In the complexity of human ‘progress’, God has a plan.
Goal 9 is not only about cities, but it is about development, the building of industry and infrastructure and the pursuit of innovation. The latter seems easy to ascribe to the purposes of God; the ultimate creator who has endowed human beings with gifts and intellect to enable them to create in His image, to invent, design and produce with artistry, beauty and purpose. But what of industry and infrastructure? Anyone who has visited the developing world can testify that very often that which strikes them most, which makes living, even for a relatively short period of time, more difficult, are some of the differences in the mundane and seemingly ‘ordinary’ things about which we usually give little thought. Roads and other transport links, plumbing systems, bridges, doors and windows that fit, buildings that withstand weather and a myriad of other things, large and small, which, together, are the product of a nation, or region’s investment in itself. It was these things, this infrastructure, that the exiles of the Old Testament were told to give attention to, in order that they, and the purposes of God, might prosper, and so it remains. Industry, in its widest sense, and the context which it requires in order to flourish, continues to be a necessary precursor to prosperity and so essential for the alleviation of poverty, especially in the harshest of places. If Christians are serious then about ensuring a lasting difference they need to build and invest and create. This goal encourages just that.
+ DISCUSSION POINTS
- Has anyone ever provided you with help to get a vital job or training? Where in the Bible are people told to engage in the places and communities they live? What is the overall sense of those instructions?
- What are the important things needed practically in any community so that people living there can do so positively?
- How can God’s gifts of creativity and intellect be utilised in industry? Do we sometimes limit the scope of God’s involvement?
+ GOAL 9 IN ACTION
Tools with a Mission (TWAM) collects unwanted tools, refurbishes them, sorts them into trade kits and sends them across the world for livelihood creation. TWAM also provides support for local people in their own communities through livelihood creation projects bringing dignity through work and the ability to provide for oneself and family. Entire communities are being transformed through provision of these tool kits as training replaces a life of exploitation with hope. TWAM contributes to Goal 9 by “generating full and productive employment and decent work for all and promoting micro, small and medium-size enterprises”. Individuals are being lifted out of poverty with a sustainable future.
Think about how your church can engage your local community? Could you collect tools for us locally or even form an independent workshop? Independent workshops are being set up across the UK. You can reach out to your local community whilst at the same time help communities across Africa.
+ WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT?
Personal – Donate tools to TWAM or set up an independent TWAM workshop.
Local – Encourage local businesses to adopt clean and resilient methods, positive for workers and the environment.
International – Connect with national courses and conferences that equip Christians in industry. For example, LeadershipCollegeLondon.org