Natural Resources—Blessing or Curse?
What a world God created! When combined with human ingenuity, it seems that there is no end to the wealth and potential for prosperity. And the world is prospering at an unprecedented rate.
Hans Rosling, who died last year, was an amazing physician, statistician and public speaker. He published a 4 minute and 48 second video on global development several years ago, that I still think is the best, most understandable and comprehensive summary I have seen. Do have a quick look:
What encouraging trends! But there are still many reasons why our optimism should be mixed with concern. I read two articles in the past couple of weeks that illustrate what I mean.
One of them was about the remarkable boom resulting from new drilling technology and the massive oil output in Texas. It was a Wall Street Journal article:
The other, a BBC article, was about the huge oil reserves now confirmed in Guyana:
In Texas entire communities are benefitting from natural resources newly accessed through the creativity of engineers. In Sudan, or the Democratic Republic of the Congo—almost everywhere in Africa—proximity to valuable natural resources puts people at great risk. Natural resources turn out to be a curse. Which will it me in Guyana?
What makes the difference?
The answer is quite simple. Where people are more virtuous, widespread benefit is more likely. Where powerful people are corrupt, wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few who are not bothered about the plight of the poor and powerless, so the majority suffer.
Jesus taught about the fundamental values that lead to a society that works—kindness, being a good neighbour, loving others as yourself, sacrificial generosity and the list goes on. No society embodies these values fully, but as they grow more common, more people benefit from wealth.
Yes, missionaries are still needed. Every society, culture and nation needs to constantly hear more of the message of Jesus. They all need those who are committed to making disciples. God created enough wealth on this earth that all should benefit. Now it’s up to us.