I was sitting next to a speaker we invited to our International Children’s Day event. He was a professor at a local university and also lived some of his time in the UK. He had his children in our school because he wanted them to be with other children we had invited to care for, whose towns had been devastated by Boko Haram. He wanted his children to rub shoulders with other children from all backgrounds. As we talked, I asked him about some books he had written and about projects that the United Nations was undertaking. He spoke of reconciliation between communities, restoration programs for poor regions, prison improvements, awareness programs for vulnerable females, environmental improvements, agricultural studies and others. He was a Christian and finding great fulfilment helping his nation through his work.
Over the years I have met with many people who have worked in government departments who have sincerely sought to implement the findings of many useful United Nations studies and standards into their policies of community service. They have found the United Nations involvement to be invaluable for the benefit of people’s lives and have taken the work of the United Nations very seriously.
At times when we have heard of violent conflicts, where stories have been told of the intervention of United Nations agencies, along with local and foreign bodies, all staffed by local people. These people have often risked their lives to rescue and treat others who have been attacked and left in dangerous areas. They are local Christians and Muslims who have served across the lines of conflict to rescue their “enemies,” risking reprisal death for themselves. Here are many people who find meaning, who find places where they can serve God by loving and restoring those around them. They are showing in their lives what the law of the Old Testament spoke of.
When you live in this situation and hear these stories, it is sad when you hear others coming against the United Nations. I don’t mean in the sense to improve, or modify it, but to claim that we don’t need it, that we should trash it. I think such people aren’t aware of how many millions of people benefit from organisations like the United Nations every day.
It is even sadder when these people are Christians, when the United Nations is doing those things Isaiah spoke of, the things Christ spoke of, about neighbourly love, and the church has often withdrawn from this kind of involvement in areas of suffering and even spoken against those institutions that are trying to help. It’s sad when these institutions are doing and teaching what the church should be doing and teaching: reconciliation, peacebuilding in communities, restoration of prisons, etc.
It’s sad when churches have taken to messages of personal development for its members, and not sacrificial giving for the world that is hurting. We find that many of the people who serve in these areas do so despite the message of their churches, not because of their church’s messages and encouragement. It’s like the United Nations is a secular organisation, and that therefore the churches don’t encourage what it is doing, because “it’s not our mission.” It’s sad that there appears sometimes to be a kind of competition here, that we don’t see what Christians and others are doing in these areas of service as an extension of the church’s mission to the world.
Instead of decrying the United Nations as an end-times antichrist body, it would be better to recognise that much of what it does is part of the mission of the church, and was begun by the principles of the church, some of which we have forsaken and need to restore in our own lives of service to the poor, foreigner and afflicted. Then we can address its faults by our example.