In December of 2016 my husband and I packed up all of our belongings, put most of them in storage, and moved everything else to a small country in southern Africa.
We were both born and raised in the United States, but we had traveled some, and we were excited about the possibilities this move represented. I watched as our plane flew over mile after mile, my attention focused on every minute detail—rivers racing down the mountains, occasional gray rock faces rising dramatically out of dense green forests spilling down the mountains, seamlessly transitioning to field after field of maize (unsweet white corn that, ground, serves as the staple food in this region).
These fields or forests were periodically interrupted by circles of bright red dirt dotted with thatched or tin roofs, marking tiny villages. I had never imagined that this is the course my life would take, nor that we would be living in such a beautiful place.
Under the reign of Jesus Christ, government corruption will become a thing of the past. Hurt and destruction will end.
As the minutes ticked into hours while we flew above this gorgeous landscape over several countries, I slowly realized something seemed to be missing. Or, rather, in my experience there seemed to be something missing— roads, the paved ones at least.
In those several hours I had seen only one or two paved roads. I also hadn’t seen a city below me in quite some time. I was, in flying back home, accustomed to city running into city with brief farmlands turning into more city or mountain or forest, with one constant—roads. There are always paved roads.
This was going to be a very different experience. It’s exciting to see God’s creation unspoiled by manmade intervention. However, this unspoiled beauty is not by design. It’s all too often the result of greed. It seems funny to say this. The destruction of God’s creation is so often the result of human greed, but so, it seems, is the complete lack of development.
God designed a beautiful and abundant world, perfect for human occupation, and He gave us charge over it. In Genesis 2:15 Genesis 2:15And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
American King James Version×we read that “the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.” The word “tend” is a translation of the Hebrew word abad, which can also mean “help” or “cultivate.”
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition, defines cultivate as “to improve by labor, care, or study.” The word translated “keep” in this verse is shamar, which also means to “observe” or “guard.” God told man from the beginning that it is our duty to cultivate and guard the earth. We should use it, but not misuse it. God designed the world specifically for human beings, and for an incredible future.
The warm heart of Africa
Malawi, the country where we currently live, is called the warm heart of Africa, and that’s so fitting. The people you meet are kind and generous. The country itself and its neighbors Zambia, Mozambique and Tanzania are beautiful but also some of the poorest countries in the world (depending on the measure used).
So why are they so poor? Why is there so much suffering? Do they lack resources? Is it a lack of foreign investment? No. The main reason for the suffering in these countries is corruption and greed, and it affects every aspect of life—just as God said it would when He inspired the prophet Isaiah to write, “The way of peace they have not known, and there is no justice in their ways” (Isaiah 59:8 Isaiah 59:8The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whoever goes therein shall not know peace.
American King James Version×).
In Malawi there is a serious electrical power problem. The power company, ESCOM, is owned by the government. It creates power through a dam system on Lake Malawi and several rivers, along with a few areas of solar power generation.
The company schedules “load shedding” periodically throughout the country to decrease the demand on the system. Theoretically the load shedding keeps any one area from losing power more often than others. What it actually does is gives the company control over who gets access to power and when. Most areas lose power at least once a day, ranging from a few minutes to multiple hours.
Notice I said most areas. Some areas lose power for days on end. These tend to be the poorer areas, with poorly built or badly maintained infrastructure. But some areas never lose power—the richer areas where resident Westerners live, where government officials live, where rich executives live.
What this means is that the poor get poorer. Many small businesses (Internet cafes, welding shops, small markets) have folded due to a lack of electricity. They can’t make money when their equipment sits idle in the dark. While these accounts are anecdotal—what I have personally observed and been informed about—the continuing problem with electrical power is well documented.
In 2016 when Malawians complained about ongoing power outages, they were informed that the recent severe drought caused water levels to drop in Lake Malawi and the Shire River (where most of the power generation occurs), and therefore there was less capacity to generate electricity. As the rainy season (November-April) continued into 2017 and the rivers swelled to flood stages, and the lake level rose to pre-drought levels, the power outages dragged on—this time because debris from the rains had clogged the hydropower units.
Temporary gains lead to chronic problems
It might be easy to excuse the lack of electricity as due to a lack of resources. However, nearly 40 percent of all public funds in Malawi are provided through foreign aid. In the last few years it’s been uncovered that 1.3 billion Malawian kwacha (about U.S. $1.8 million) have been pilfered from ESCOM.
Sadly, it’s not just the power company that is blighted with scandal. In 2013 it was uncovered that between 200 and 500 billion kwacha (around $3-7 million) were stolen from the Malawian government.
The most recent scandal to hit Malawi has been dubbed “Maizegate.” The department of agriculture mismanaged 9.5 billion kwacha ($13 million), impacting people’s access to grain for food and for planting later this year.
There are so many biblical concepts that would prevent all of these injustices, but I’d like to focus on just the principle of cultivating and keeping the land as God commanded in Genesis 2:15 Genesis 2:15And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
American King James Version×, mentioned earlier.
These companies aren’t taking their ill-gotten gains and updating the existing infrastructure to produce more energy. They aren’t investing in new technology to improve this situation. They’re not investing in the future. Instead they line their pockets.
Even worse, rather than invest in the country’s most valuable asset—their people—for an even greater return in productivity and creativity, these leaders and government officials fail to see the big picture and lie, cheat and steal for temporary gains.
While these specific cases happened in Malawi, corruption is endemic around the world. Malawi isn’t even in the top 50 in this regard. No country is immune. José Ugaz, chairman of Transparency International, puts in quite succinctly: “In too many countries, people are deprived of their most basic needs and go to bed hungry every night because of corruption, while the powerful and corrupt enjoy lavish lifestyles with impunity.”
God the Father and Jesus Christ always see the big picture
One of the beautiful things about God and His love for mankind is His focus on the future. This is also, oftentimes, one of the most confusing things about our relationship with God. Why? Because while God wants to bless us physically (see Deuteronomy 28:12 Deuteronomy 28:12The LORD shall open to you his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain to your land in his season, and to bless all the work of your hand: and you shall lend to many nations, and you shall not borrow.
American King James Version×; Malachi 3:10 Malachi 3:10Bring you all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my house, and prove me now herewith, said the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
American King James Version×; John 10:10 John 10:10The thief comes not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
American King James Version×), He is much more concerned about our long-term, spiritual condition.
His ultimate goal is for all of mankind (those who will follow Him) to inherit eternal life. Yet sometimes what’s best for us to attain that goal might include suffering. But it’s always temporary, it’s always for our good, and it’s always an investment in our future.
When Jesus Christ returns to rule over the earth, all people —but especially the poor and needy of this world—will finally be rescued. As Isaiah 35:10 Isaiah 35:10And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy on their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
American King James Version×describes it: “The ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”
Under the reign of Jesus Christ and His perfected followers from this age (see Daniel 7:18 Daniel 7:18But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.
American King James Version×; Luke 19:11-27 Luke 19:11-27 11 And as they heard these things, he added and spoke a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. 12 He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. 13 And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said to them, Occupy till I come. 14 But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. 15 And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called to him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. 16 Then came the first, saying, Lord, your pound has gained ten pounds. 17 And he said to him, Well, you good servant: because you have been faithful in a very little, have you authority over ten cities. 18 And the second came, saying, Lord, your pound has gained five pounds. 19 And he said likewise to him, Be you also over five cities. 20 And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is your pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin: 21 For I feared you, because you are an austere man: you take up that you layed not down, and reap that you did not sow. 22 And he said to him, Out of your own mouth will I judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow: 23 Why then gave not you my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required my own with usury? 24 And he said to them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that has ten pounds. 25 (And they said to him, Lord, he has ten pounds.) 26 For I say to you, That to every one which has shall be given; and from him that has not, even that he has shall be taken away from him. 27 But those my enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring here, and slay them before me.
American King James Version×; Revelation 5:10 Revelation 5:10And have made us to our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
American King James Version×; Revelation 20:4 Revelation 20:4And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark on their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
American King James Version×; Revelation 20:6 Revelation 20:6Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
American King James Version×), government corruption will become a thing of the past. Hurt and destruction will end, with everyone coming to know God and being directly led in His ways (Isaiah 11:9 Isaiah 11:9They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
American King James Version×; Isaiah 30:20-21 Isaiah 30:20-21 20 And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not your teachers be removed into a corner any more, but your eyes shall see your teachers: 21 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, This is the way, walk you in it, when you turn to the right hand, and when you turn to the left.
American King James Version×).
Jesus Christ will become “a refuge for the oppressed” (Psalms 9:9 Psalms 9:9The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.
American King James Version×). Further, “He will bring justice to the poor of the people; He will save the children of the needy” (Psalms 72:4 Psalms 72:4He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor.
American King James Version×). God the Father and Jesus Christ want to see all human beings live up to their full potential (1 Timothy 2:4 1 Timothy 2:4Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
American King James Version×; 2 Peter 3:9 2 Peter 3:9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
American King James Version×) and become heirs with Jesus Christ of eternal life (Romans 8:17 Romans 8:17And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
American King James Version×).
This means that everyone will be given the opportunity to live an abundant life, not just the elites. “Everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid” (Micah 4:4 Micah 4:4But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken it.
American King James Version×).
The farms of that time will produce abundant harvests. “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him who sows seed; the mountains shall drip with sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it” (Amos 9:13 Amos 9:13Behold, the days come, said the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that sows seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt.
American King James Version×).
Again, God’s coming perfect government will protect the rights of those who work to enjoy the fruits of their labors. And everyone, not just the rich or those who work in government, will have the opportunity to prosper!