Promoting Collective Good through Prayer and Action

Article excerpt

Is it possible for developing nations to obtain peace and prosperity, and to create a solid basis for long-lasting democracy and steady growth? Since the 1990s, efforts to establish democracy in Africa have been characterized by political unrest, but ongoing efforts have brought progress, including increased freedom of expression and better conditions for women. But there is still a long way to go to overcome major challenges resulting from the lack of transparency of some governments in the management of their affairs. Also challenging is their indifference to the well-being of their people, which fuels poverty, injustice, and corruption.

Believing that the welfare of a nation is strongly linked to political and economic conditions, people rest their hopes on politicians, their system of government, and human laws and regulations, which are not always reliable or long lasting. As soon as a government does not meet expectations, it is criticized, challenged, and held accountable for all problems.

The Bible, on the other hand, shows that when individuals are motivated to seek the common good, God supports both their progress and society's progress. Nehemiah, for example, wanted to rebuild Jerusalem and to protect it from its enemies, who had previously destroyed the city and enslaved the children of Israel (see Nehemiah, chapters 1-6). Nehemiah had at heart the collective good, but frightening opponents threatened his efforts. They formed an alliance to attack Jerusalem and to prevent its reconstruction.

Nehemiah, determined to rebuild the city that was so important for him and for his people, resisted the enemies' attacks by relying on God. He and his people had to stand very firm against strong opposition. The spiritual tools that helped them triumph were prayer, trust in God, alertness, fearlessness, love, humility, discernment of good, and faith in the power of goodness. Thanks to Nehemiah's strong reliance on God, the wall was rebuilt, and peace came not only for the children of Israel, but also for all their enemies.

Today the enemies seem to be bad governance, lack of resources, hatred, war, and disease. But these enemies can all be overcome by understanding that God alone governs the universe, and that His almighty power gives strength and promotes progress. Mary Baker Eddy writes in her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "Resist evil - error of every sort - and it will flee from you" (p. 406). Evil has no foundation to give it power or life because God is the only power.

Early in my career, I was chief accountant in a regional department of my country's Ministry of Agriculture. Everything was going well until I took over after my immediate supervisor suddenly departed. It was my deepest desire to put in place new procedures that would prevent dishonesty. …