Paul Madson


Milk Cows, Worldview and the Transformation of Cultures

This week, I wanted to pass on to you a few thoughts from Gary Brumbelow of the Disciple Nations Alliance. Over the past few years, I have learned a great deal (through books and missions periodicals, as well as many conversations with Christian leaders from around the world) about what it takes to bring true, lasting, godly transformation to people and nations. Listen to Brumbelow’s brief story entitled Milk Cows Can Change the World:

“In his remarkable book, Truth and Transformation, native Indian Vishal Mangalwadi writes about visiting a dairy in Holland.

I had never seen such a dairy! It had a hundred cows, there were no staff on site, and it seemed amazingly clean and orderly. In India we had a small dairy of our own, but our dairy had two workers and it was filthy and smelly.

Book cover

Vishal was introduced to mechanized milking, but something else was a bigger surprise: the honor system of paying for milk.

We walked into the milk room, and no one was there to sell the milk. I expected Jan to ring a bell, but instead he just opened the tap, put his jug under it, and filled the jug.

His host paid for the milk by making change from the open money bowl on the window sill, and the transaction was done!

Vishal was astonished at such a system and observed that it could only work in a culture of trust and honor.

Beyond that, he points out how such virtues build economic growth.

In a different culture, the milk would be diluted-requiring inspectors, and the money bowl would be pilfered-requiring employees. Hiring employees and paying inspectors would increase the price of milk for everyone.

His takeaway: Moral integrity is a huge factor behind the unique socioeconomic/sociopolitical success of the West.

Virtues grounded in biblical values have benefited the world more profoundly, and in more ways, than many people recognize.”

After I read this post by Brumbelow, it reminded me again of the strategic importance of the power of God’s Truth to transform entire cultures!

Until a person’s worldview is changed so that it is in line with godly values, ethics and morals (which all flow from a proper understanding of the nature of God, i.e. good theology), nothing substantial is going to change. Poverty will continue unabated. The reason why so much poverty continues in many of these countries is because their worldview (belief system) is not in line with Scriptural principles.

When a person has a biblical worldview and lives it out in their day-to-day life, the impact is astounding! Like the example above, when people begin to value and live out honesty and integrity, business tends to flourish. When people begin to value women and children as human beings made in God’s image, they are no longer treated as second-class citizens.

If we want to create lasting change and transformation within the poorest countries of the world, the place to begin is with God’s Truth (i.e. Scripture). Teaching, educating and training indigenous people in the principles of God’s Word is at the root. As they begin to develop a biblical worldview and live it out as followers of Christ, transformation begins to happen in every socioeconomic and sociopolitical area! I have personally witnessed this in the villages and communities of northeast India where we have been involved for over 12 years.

Here is a list of recommended resources that deal with the above issues which I have found extremely helpful…

  • Discipling Nations: The Power of Truth to Transform Cultures, by Darrow L. Miller (with Stan Guthrie), copyright 1998.
  • Truth and Transformation: A Manifesto for Ailing Nations, by Vishal Mangalwadi, copyright 2009.
  • When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor and Yourself, by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, copyright 2009.
  • Giving Wisely: Killing with Kindness or Empowering Lasting Transformation?, by Jonathan Martin, copyright 2008.
  • African Friends and Money Matters, by David Maranz, copyright 2001.
  • The Aid Trap: Hard Truths about Ending Poverty, by R. Glenn Hubbard and William Duggan, copyright 2009.
  • The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good, by William Easterly, copyright 2006.

(Important Note: just because I recommend a particular book does not mean that I endorse every single thing that the author says or believes. I always encourage people to read critically [i.e. discerningly] and learn to take the “good” and leave the “not so good”)

1 Comment

  1. Paul,
    Thank you so much for these wonderful lessons. I appreciate your Christ centered focus and that your exhortations are completely based on scripture. It is so good to be reminded about what truly matters. I am finding these lessons very helpful as I seek God’s direction in ministry. They have been a blessing to me. Your hard work in studying, your time spent seeking the heart of God, your labor of love for Christ and for His people have helped inspire me in the work God has called me to. Thank you so much following hard after God and for equipping the saints so that they can do the same.
    Much love to you and Lisa,
    Carol Denny

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