On the Bookshelf

A few months ago, we borrowed a book called “African Friends and Money Matters.”  We only had time to peruse it briefly, but while in the states, we acquired our own copy.  This is a very interesting book, written by David Maranz.  While the author has not written from a religious perspective, this book is very helpful to missionaries in Africa.  If a missionary does not understand the very different mindset that most Africans have towards money and its place in society, he will not be equipped to deal with the many money-related issues that are sure to come up.

Here is a sample:  “Precision is to be avoided in accounting as it shows the lack of a generous spirit.” Mr. Maranz goes on to explain “Precision and rigor in keeping accounts show a lack of generosity.  It is nontrusting.  It is not what a friend does….Another part of the explanation for this avoidance of accountability comes from the fact that in most African cultures it can easily lead to suspicion, mistrust, and confrontation.  Such unpleasantness is to be avoided if at all possible.”

Another example: “Many products are purchased in very small amounts even though the unit cost is much higher than for purchases in larger quantities. An African would say ‘If I have extra I am obligated to share.  Sure I know that buying a whole sack of charcoal is cheaper than buying it by the little pile.  But if I buy it by the little pile and my in-law or neighbor or friend comes asking for some, I can honestly say I don’t have any to give to them…”

One can see how this thinking would affect finances in the church, and understanding the present mindset is crucial if we want to help the church mature.