I stood in a lush field at the bottom of a floodbank in Nepal and felt secure. The bank was 4m tall and 1,200m long. However when I stood on top of the same floodbank I didn't feel so safe. The river water lapped just 1m below the top of the bank and this was in the dry season. If the bank failed and the river washed through then my friends in Madhumalla village would, at very least, lose their crops and, at worst, their lives.
Following the earthquakes in Nepal there will be a drive to 'build back better', to replace old structures with new more resilient ones. I think that is great as far as it goes. I hope, however, that all involved think of building more than just resilient things. What if the goal was to build more of God's kingdom, not a kingdom of earthly power but of simple generosity to all, love for the marginalised, forgiveness and grace?
If we want to see that kind of kingdom coming then we need to work with ordinary churches which won't have the resources, the 4 wheel drives or the logframes of the development world. They can however, by God's grace, help bring this deeper and richer type of change. Perhaps we need to encourage the church to think as much about discipleship, prayer and simple service (Acts 2 v42-47) as it does about physical rebuilding.
Maybe it will be the 'lowly things' (1 Corinthians 1 v27-29) that will bring the type of change that will last long after the international community has left. Perhaps that's what it means to really 'build back better'.
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