There is yet hope for the country and our continent when a room is filled by people attending an event to make a stand against corruption. The event was the launch of EXPOSED – the global Christian campaign aimed at exposing corruption, one of the major causes of poverty.
The relaxed evening in Cape Town started with a piercing indictment against the Church, from Dr Michael Cassidy, the founder of African Enterprise and honorary lifetime chair of the Lausanne Movement, who said: “Every church gets the country it deserves.” He continued, “If a country decays it is the failure of the Church to be salt. If the country is dark, it is the failure of the Church to be light.”
Reverend Moss Ntlha, head of The Evangelical Alliance of South Africa lamented: “Corruption is a betrayal of the dreams of the people. Corruption is an abuse of power, whether by a traffic officer on the side of the road or by an elected government official. Those with power should use their power in a safe way.”
He continued: “Jesus gave us an example, which the Church should use to illustrate to the world a safer way to use power. Jesus was the most powerful man ever to walk the earth. Yet he used his power to serve others.”
The speakers during the evening reminded us that the launch event and indeed the EXPOSED campaign is not a platform for the Church to point fingers at the world. Rather the aim is to create urgency about the corruption problem and to summon ordinary individuals to make a stand against practices which ultimately keep the poor enslaved in poverty.
Costs of corruption
Joel Edwards, the International Director of Micah Challenge and International Coordinator of EXPOSED, counted the costs of corruption. “It would cost $210 billion every year to achieve the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals to halve poverty by 2015. In contrast, corruption costs $1 trillion every year and it wipes off 25% of Africa’s GDP.”
Joyce Thong, Communications Director of Malaysian Care and coordinator of EXPOSED in Malaysia spoke as an ordinary citizen yearning for a change.
“If we clean up our house maybe our light as the Church will shine brighter. Sometimes [the fight against corruption] is so overwhelming that you wonder what one person can do,” she said.
Michelle Harding, a South African businesswoman and champion for ethics, was the managing director of a plastic pipe company in South Africa which was part of an illicit cartel that fixed prices and rigged tender bids for decades. After becoming a whistle-blower for the Competition Tribunal, she was fired from her position.
The Tribunal said in its ruling: “Enforcement against cartels requires more Hardings who are willing to take a moral stand and, as she put it in her testimony, ‘stop the cancer’.”
Making a costly choice
She told her story to the audience: “I had to make a choice as I was climbing that corporate ladder. I worked extremely hard to get to that position. The more I found out about the meetings in dark rooms, where no minutes were taken, I made a decision that would make me lose everything that I worked so hard for.
“Was it worth it? Only my family and husband fully comprehend what I had to sacrifice and go through. But, yes it was worth it because I was obedient to God,” she concluded.
Graham Power, the chairman and founder of the Power Group of Companies, one of the largest privately owned construction companies in South Africa, and chairman and founder of the Global Day of Prayer and Unashamedly Ethical movements, also shared what it costs to make a stand.
“The most embarrassing moment in my life was when I stood in front of 500 people at a business function and told them, prompted by the Lord, that I am cleaning up and that I have an overseas bank account, which at that stage was illegal. Somehow a reporter picked up my confession and that week the news headlines read: ‘South African businessman rapes country of millions.’ My mother called me and asked what is going on. But, today I can stand here without any shame.”
The evening ended with an appeal from Amanda Jackson, Head of Campaigns at Micah Challenge.
She said: “There are 600 million evangelical Christians around the world and millions of professing Christians; it shouldn’t be difficult to get 1 million people to sign our Global Call for Integrity [a call for financial transparency and honesty, which will be presented to leaders of the most powerful economies across the world].”
There are practical things that any ordinary Christian can do:
• Light in my heart – Personal action: this is a personal commitment where individuals refuse to engage in corruptive activities themselves and engage in local advocacy against the corruption they see around them.
• Light in my community – Community action: This will most likely take the form of a vigil that will slot in with vigils around the globe from October 14-20 2013. Idividuals, churches and organisations are encouraged to organise public events where the issue of corruption will be highlighted.
• Light in my world – Global Action: Individuals are asked to sign the Global Call for Integrity and, using the online tools as well as more traditional methods, to encourage others to do so and gather signatures at work, through their churches, schools and other groups and organisations to which they belong.
The hosts and crew of Watchmen on the Wall were at the launch to cover the event and interview the government, business and church leaders at the launch. The programme will be broadcast on TBN Africa, on DStv channel 341 on Tuesday April 2 at 19:00.