I never really thought about nation building thoroughly until this year. At the beginning of this year I was asked to start a construction company by the government and the Lord told my wife and I that he was going to teach us about building a nation. Actually I have always wanted to “change” a nation or “transform” a nation, but I never really thought about all that encompasses. I have often pondered why British colonies are rich, and French colonies are always in civil war. I am sure it was because of the way they “built” the nations.
Actually, if you want to learn about nation building, the oldest model in the world is found right in our Bible. It is the only book I know that has a detailed blueprint for building a nation. The whole set of instructions are there for how to build a nation, including it laws, is societal structure, foreign policies, and even the characteristics and responsibilities of its citizens. This year has been a huge learning experience for me. Yes, I believe Christians need to be “nation builders”, but unfortunately few practice it. We would prefer to just build little “temples” and put big fences around them. But that doesn’t change a nation, only the landscape.
Let me explain: I grew up in the Philippines. I know almost every inch of the Philippines. It is a “Christian” country with nearly 86 million people professing to be “Christians” and only 3-4 million of other faiths (i.e. Muslims). So why is the Philippines one of the most unstable and corrupt countries in the world? I think it is because they tried to model “rich” countries and not the Bible. Currently, so many “Christian” countries are discarding the Bible and their forefathers faith (if you look at the map of the world, they are often the most prosperous and stable nations). I can guess what is going to happen: they will become unstable, immoral and filled with corruption. Even, one day, they will probably cease to exist. You don’t believe me? Do you know there are hundreds of nations mentioned in the Bible? Do you know how many are here today? Two, that I can think of.
So, there is not much I can do about the situation in the USA, or Uganda, or any other country that I do not live in, but there is something I can do about Cambodia. This year I was really convicted that for myself, and probably many other Christians, we do not take Romans 13 seriously (which talks of respecting authorities). It makes a better story to be “revolutionary” and “anti-establishment.” I don’t have all the answers yet, and I am not in a position to change the whole nation. I can only to exert some influence in a few provinces. But, I can affect thousands of people. I have discovered four key things about how to build a nation.
1. Hard work: There is no substitute for hard work and getting dirty. Our first company is making and laying sewer lines. There is nothing more disgusting than that, because we are working in open sewers. But, after we are done, it is beautiful, and the whole community benefits.
2. Long term commitment: They don’t use “week-end warriors” to win wars. You can train on the weekends, but when you are called up, they keep you there until the job is done. You can’t build a nation with no commitment either. Commitment needs to be a minimum of ten years to see lives and communities changed, but likely requires a lifetime.
3. Follow God’s patterns: It’s all in the book! Yes, that old dusty one! What the Bible says to do, do that. What the Bible says not to do, don’t do that. The red letter stuff: you better make sure you do exactly what it says!
4. Incarnational: The further you are from “real” people the less impact you are going to have. You cannot change anyone from an e-mail (or a blog), you can only help people when you live, work, sweat, cry, laugh and die among them. (i.e. Jesus’ way)
In today’s society, everyone is always looking for clever ways of doing business, or making the most money with the least amount of effort. Scams and schemes are everywhere to fool people. Unfortunately they are even in the church. Like I said, I don’t have all the answers, but I think we all need to be reminded that God has given us the task to build nations. We all need to be more careful how we build. One of my favorite “red letter” sections is John 15:16 which says, “You did not choose me,[Jesus] but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.” If you build your nation God’s way, you build the Kingdom of God.