You may have missed one of the greatest free articles on our website if you have not yet read Darrow Miller’s Agriculture and the Kingdom of God. Darrow recently referenced a phenomenal example from the article of another impoverished community that was brought into prosperity as a result of biblical values (pg. 31 1/2 – 35).
If any group of people had the right to declare that they could not survive or thrive because of their limited resources, it was these Mennonites. They had been made homeless by war and finally immigrated to the Chaco of Paraguay, where they joined a remnant of 500 destitute and starving indigenous people in a land of bitter grass and salty water. Nevertheless, their worldview insisted that God intended them to care for all people and to turn areas of barren, stubborn wilderness into productive gardens.
Though the first generation naturally struggled with destitution, each generation following them has experienced more abundance until the time at present where abundance is well-known in the land. Here are some of the things that marked the first generation:
They took Scripture seriously. They were prayerful, determined, pragmatic, resourceful, and hard working, and saw time as valuable. They had a strong sense of family and community, looking out for one-another’s needs, creating strong social institutions, churches and economic cooperatives. A strong, relevant, even dynamic church had been an indispensable part of the experience. First, the church reinforced the ethic of mutual aid and community. The strong were expected to help the weak. The motto, prominently displayed in the hall where early colony meetings took place, was “Gemeinnutz vor Eigennutz” (the common good over personal gain). The colonists were poor, but they helped each other. In bad times mutual aid made the difference” (33).
The land that “could not sustain 500 indigenous people in poverty now provides a bounty for more than 10,000 Indians and 23,000 Mennonites” (35). What was the difference? Part of it was their vision for the land. The indigenous people saw nature as having dominion over man, but the Mennonites believed the Bible’s teaching that man is to take dominion over nature.
Part of it was their love for people and community. All of it was rooted in the biblical worldview (and none of it came from the government). 😉
-Tim C. Williams
See pages 31 1/2 – 35 of Darrow Miller’s Agriculture and the Kingdom of God.