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Liberty and security:

"Liberty and security:" Continued...

Issue: "A warmer Chile," Nov. 9, 2002

Rancagua has some substantial houses in gated communities, but many of its homes are adobe cottages with peeling paint and metal roofs, low concrete block houses, or small shacks with packs of dogs foraging. But Rancaguans do not judge homes by their exteriors, since many people deliberately do not keep up with the Joses because they do not want to attract thieves. Some parts of the city are known for daylight robberies in which thieves take not only money but shoes. But members of the Harbaugh congregation are seeing progress; one, Jacob Gonzalez, has moved from jewelry salesman to artisan, producing intricate earrings and pins with funds given him by a businessman from an evangelical church in Atlanta. "Now I'm my own boss," he said cheerfully, and he's also buying his own house with a 20-year mortgage. He thinks of the future, as do his two sons, 14 and 11; the older wants to be a computer expert, the younger a veterinarian.

Rev. Harbaugh tries to infuse such a future-orientation in his members, impressing upon them the way that small businesses can help parents provide for their children, support local churches, and allow people not to leave those churches to find work in other places. The church sent one Christian, Juan Allende, to attend a seminar on how to distribute seafood, and he now has a solid small business. Those who catch that seafood live in little villages on the coast; at one such village, the fishermen were returning from the sea early in the morning as landlubbers were just waking up. The fishermen work very hard on an ocean that may be "smooth as a cup of milk" one morning and displaying huge waves the next. Several miles south of Concon is Vina del Mar, which is built up with expensive California-like condos sometimes owned, the fishermen scornfully say, by the mayoristas (middlemen) who make much more money than they do. The situation is rife for class conflict unless opportunities for social mobility increase and envy decreases.

But why on Sunday afternoons are Chileans proclaiming the name of Jesucristo in the streets rather than the name of Salvador Allende from the barrels of guns? Why are fishermen ready to talk with fishers of souls? The reason is the distinction between the Marxist method of social change and the Christian one. Marxists believe in social change that proceeds million by million from the top down: Seize control of government, control schools and media so that people receive a standard message day after day, and people, plastic by nature, will conform to the new way. Christians believe in social change that develops one by one from the inside out: Our natures need to be changed by God's grace; when that happens we will act differently; the sum of individual changes will be a changed culture in which groups can reconcile peacefully with each other rather than blasting those perceived as getting in the way.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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