Emmanuel Katongole

Location map of Burkina Faso Equirectangular p...

Location map of Burkina Faso Equirectangular projection. Strechted by 102%. Geographic limits of the map: * N: 15.5° N * S: 9° N * W: 6° W * E: 3° E Made with Natural Earth. Free vector and raster map data @ naturalearthdata.com. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m reading a book by African ethicist Emmanuel Katongole in which he says this about Thomas Sankara, the revolutionary leader of the country he named Burkina Faso, “land of incorruptible.”

In the five years of Sankara’s leadership, through agricultural reforms and mobilization of the population, his country achieved food self-sufficiency, which shows that Sankara’s ‘madness’ was quite sane indeed. Inventing the future requires the audacity to live in the present with energy and visions drawn from the future.

To get a better sense for what this is saying, watch the below video. Food itself becomes a symbol of imperialism in Africa that Sankara and people like him have tried to overcome.

Katongole’s overall point is not specifically about Sankara but about the role of the church as a proclaimer of God’s story that gives imagination and vision and courage to change the terrible heinous narratives that have been lived out in places like Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Upper Volta (later named Burkina Faso). Katongole speaks of the need for lament, memory, story, community of memory, anticipation of a new creation as elements of what the church can do to make a difference in the climate of a country where poverty and oppression exists.

Howard and Sam Dig For Gold in Tennessee

Howard Claude in 2004

Ron and Gidget lived in a trailer park on Nolensville Road in Nashville, Tennessee called Claude Country Village. It was the owner and namesake of Claude Country who introduced me to the Marcinkos. But before I tell you more about Gidget and Ron, I want to set the scene and show you this village where they lived and give you some background that only the owner of the trailer park could give. This is a story about many people but this particular chapter is about two men from Arkansas seeking their fortunes in Tennessee. One was a born-salesman named Howard Claude and the other was founder of a rising star in retailing; a man named Sam Walton.

When I lived in Nashville, Tennessee, I commuted past a large trailer park that most people barely noticed. Virtually invisible to bypassers, the residents lived in mobile homes tucked back in a holler with a bluff behind that overlooked about forty acres of land. I asked many people who drove along Nolensville Road daily, “Have you ever noticed a trailer park near the corner of Old Hickory and Nolensville Road?” They would invariably say, “There’s a trailer park there?”

There was a rumor a big box retailer wanted to buy the land the trailer park sat on, and I wanted to know what would happen to the nearly one hundred residents if they had to move to make way for a new development.

I finally noticed the park in 2004 because I read the Tennessean daily, and the business section was reporting that Walmart was looking for a new location to build a Supercenter. Land in Nashville over the past few decades had become like gold but the terrain is very rocky and hilly and often very difficult and expensive to develop.

Over months of considering different large tracts of land, the news came out that Walmart developers were considering purchase of a mobile home park on Nolensville Road. City Council Member Parker Toler had already made some enemies with his aggressive push for development of a Target and shopping center on a wooded knob near I-65 on Old Hickory. Now he was quoted calling the little trailer park on Nolensville Road a blight, a clear set up for removal and development of this land for a large retailer.

In addition to Claude Country, a bar called Eddie’s Southside Bowery, and a Phase One Used Auto Sales flanked the entrance and were included in the assessment by Toler, that this area was drug and violence infested and needed to be removed and businesses developed and tax base improved.

One day driving by the park I decided to pull in and talk to the owner and find out if the park was indeed for sale. [following the new model of www.wadehodges.com, where readers pay 99 cents to finish a good story, you can tape four quarters to a postcard and mail to me if you want, or just click below and read free].

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Crown Financial Freedom Seminar

Like most of you, Jill and I have experienced financial peaks and valleys. The peaks are not just windfalls of money. The peaks can be the blessing, hard-work and grace of God to pay off debts and be financially free to give away more. The valleys can be the reality of debts that can pile up when life hits you from different directions.

An illness or surgery, braces or serious dental work, college, an accident–so many ways we can get financially derailed. You’ve experienced these things yourself! That’s why I’m very excited about the Crown Financial Freedom Seminar Garnett is hosting January 19, 2008.

We’ve invited the community, put an ad in Community Spirit Magazine, promoted this widely in the community, and everyone is invited–both those struggling and those who are on solid footing but want to continue so and help others.

Walk up registrations are welcome. Just show up Saturday at 8:15 am and register. Seminar starts at 8:45 and goes through 4 pm. Cost is only $25 each. Breakfast and lunch will be served for donations only.

Moral problem

A 2004 survey said one-third of Americans agree this moral issue is our biggest problem . . . Is it homosexuality and gay marriage? Gluttony? Teen sex before marriage?

What was the moral problem one-third of Americans thought is the biggest right now?

Greed and materialism.

Here’s what John Perry and a group of friends are doing about it: they created a Compact. The Compact is for one year . . . not to buy anything new. They are trying to take a stand “against rampant consumption and waste.” News spread and thousands are participating worldwide. Some have angrily critiqued the idea. Says John Perry, 42, of San Francisco, “We’ve been told shopping is patriotic. Part of the promise of success in America is that you can buy lots of stuff.”

Read about exceptions to the compact, such as food at groups.yahoo.com/group/thecompact

Source: Sierra Magazine (Sep/Oct 06)

Business as Mission

What if business could become a mission? Can you have more than a profit motive for starting a business? Yes and Yes.

Clint Davis wrote an insightful piece for Wineskins. See the home page Wineskins.org for the story that is featured now. He, Keith Brenton, and I have been working on this piece for several months, and I’m happy to see it published. Great job, Clint, and thank you for keeping these important ideas and our awesome friends in Uganda in our minds and prayers.

Also, Clint’s blog is about business as mission, and links are on my blogroll and in the Wineskins article.

You’ll also find links for Kibogroup.org, a non-profit Clint helped set up with Mark Moore. The Kibo Group partners with people in Eastern Africa to help develop businesses and holistic programs in health that in turn help lift families out of poverty so they can live and work with joy and dignity.