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Integrity Has a Price - Part 3

Jan. 28, 2015By: Jeff AtherstoneAuthor Bio

It's 2 AM and I'm wide awake... usually a good sign that the day didn't go as planned.

Long story short... nothing happened.

The squatters argued that they were not served a notice to appear, which is a bit funny because their lawyer was in court on time and they were all standing outside of the courthouse (so how is it that they didn't know to appear in court - seems fishy to me)... so now the seller of the land has to provide a legal document (insert a technical name that I can't remember here) which states that he really did serve them notice.

Due to this technicality the judge delayed the hearing until April 3.

But here is where the whole issue of integrity comes in. We could have had the whole thinggavel1 taken care of today for just under $1,000 (remember this is a $100,000 land purchase so we are talking less than 1%). All we had to do was pay the judge and our case would have been heard.

I believe this is where the Western influence (or let's get more personal and say missionary influence) has added to the corruption in Uganda.

To a westerner "time is money" so it has become common practice to "pay" (insert "bribe") to speed up service. This happens with missionaries getting work visas at the Ministry of Immigration. It happens for missionaries seeking to register their NGOs (Christian organizations). It happens for missionaries who pay to get out of traffic tickets so they don't have to stand in long lines at the bank to pay the real tickets. It happens with couples who want to speed up their adoptions. The list goes on and on.

I'm not saying that all missionaries do this, but it is also more common than it should be among this crowd.

Our cultural (not biblical)  impatience has created a system that encourages corruption.

Part of me wonders if "being slow" has become the most profitable business practice in the developing world?

So today the squatters took a calculated risk and delayed the process. Now all eyes are back on us, the school with a mizungu (white) director. Will he bribe the court? Or better yet, will he pay us (the squatters) to stop fighting this case in court?

So here is the updated prayer list:

1) Pray that the judge, seller and squatters all show up in court on April 3 with all the legal documents filed correctly 
2) Pray that the judge grants us favor and makes his decision on the evidence
3) Pray that the squatters don't pay to win
4) Pray that the judge acts on his decision in our favor and sends his bailiffs to clear the squatters off the land
5) Pray that the squatters don't retaliate against the school or my family
6) Pray that the testimony of this purchase inspires our staff, students and everyone else involved to seek God's favor rather than paying for man's favor 

Show Comments   |   Leave a Comment  |  Tags:  missions, money, uganda, west, corruption, patience, integrity, arcc

Integrity Has a Price - Part 2

Jan. 27, 2015By: Jeff AtherstoneAuthor Bio

For three days we are featuring posts from Jeff Atherstone and his experience two years ago trying to negotiate land for what is now African Renewal University.

It's the halfway point... just over a week since being asked for the bribe to settle the land dispute and a week left until the trial.

A number of you have been praying with us and are curious about how things are going.

It's been quiet, really quiet. This is normal and if I keep calling the lawyers, seller, judge or409053_6753035_lz anyone else involved I will look like the worried mizungu. Then they will get confident that I will cave in and pay the bribe, so it is true that Philippians 4:6 really works (be anxious for nothing) even for handling corruption.

But I did check in with our lawyers today and received some great news. The seller and judge are showing up to court on March 6 and they are both aware that we will not pay a bribe. This is great news because at least our case will be heard and then ultimately the decision is in the hands of the court.

Personally I feel more at peace about the whole situation than I have at any point in the process (prayer is working!). I'm also excited for the students and staff. I really believe that a strong stand against corruption will be a testimony for the institution and a legacy for the students to follow for years to come.

Show Comments   |   Leave a Comment  |  Tags:  missions, money, uganda, answer to prayer, arcc

Integrity Has a Price

Jan. 26, 2015By: Jeff AtherstoneAuthor Bio

The next three days will feature posts from Jeff Atherstone and his experience two years ago trying to negotiate land for what is now African Renewal University.

It's no secret that corruption is a major problem in Uganda... on the world Corruption Perception Index we ranked #127 in 2010... which isn't as bad as Somalia at #178 but it still isn't anything to brag about.

What might be surprising to some who haven't experienced this type of corruption is that it is everywhere... the police, courts, government, church and business to name a few.
bribery
And today it is staring me in the face with a price tag beyond anything I have ever experienced.

Yesterday I was asked to pay a judge $1,000 which might not be much to some, but if I don't pay it, ARCC (Africa Renewal Christian College) could also lose another $100,000 (and yes, I am referring to US Dollars)!

First the good news! We found the owner of the troublesome land that I wrote about last June and agreed on a price for the land and drafted a purchase agreement with our board and lawyers in November,received all the funds and made the payment for the land in December. This last week the seller (after much prompting) filed a court case to stop the squatters from all construction, farming or any other developments. This is a great step.  Next, the squatters will face off with the seller in court. The seller (a lawyer) has all the proof required to show that they settled on the land illegally. The final step will be that the court will remove the squatters.

Here is the problem: even though the seller has the proof he needs to win in court, the judge is asking for $1,000 and the seller is demanding that I pay it!

If I don't pay it, the seller is saying that he will drag this case on as long as he wants (months, years, indefinitely), as a lawyer (and nephew of a well known politician) he is telling me that I have no choice. He can and will delay as long as he wants - pretty nice for a guy who introduced himself to us as a Born-Again Christian!

There is also an additional price. The longer this goes on the more problems we have with the community around us, because the illegal squatters all received their land from the local
Muslim mayor and he is doing his best to convince them that the Mizungu (white guy) will eventually get scared or impatient and pay them to leave. This also has a price! As soon as you start paying people who have broken the law to leave you alone, it invites new people to break the law in order to get money from you.

So, what do you do?

Sell your integrity for $1,000?

Risk losing the $100,000+ you paid for the land?

Risk threats from the squatters who still think they can get money from us (they have used poison to kill our animals in the past)? 

After a sleepless weekend and some great counsel from the ARCC Board, the answer seems simple: It is time to ask God's people to pray...

More on what happened tomorrow.

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Thursday Statistics

Oct. 30, 2014By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

Some interesting statistics from chapter 1 of Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help (And How to Reverse It)

  • Africa has recieved $1 trillion in benevolent aid in the last 50 year and per-capita income is now lower, life expectancy has stagnated and adult literacy is lower.
  • 85% of aid money flowing to African countries never reaches the targeted areas of need.
  • U.S. missions teams who rushed to Honduras to help rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Mitch spent on average $30K per home - homes locals could have built for $3K each.
  • The money spent by one campus ministry to cover the costs of their Central American mission trip to repaint an orphanage would have been enough to hire two local painters and two new full-time teachers and purchase new uniforms for every student in the school.
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Pro-Life Christian: Dump Some Ice Water on Your Head but Be Careful Where Your Money Goes

Aug. 22, 2014By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

The ALS ice-bucket challenge has taken the internet by storm. Most now agree it was started by Chris Kennedy, a professional golfer who took the challenge from a friend but then recorded a video, calling on three others to do it or donate. What started as an either/or proposition has turned into a both/and. People are dunking themselves – former Presidents, movie stars, sports teams and just about everyone I know on Facebook. Still waiting for some well-known preachers to join in….

Amytrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), more widely known as Lou Gehrig’s disease affects everything from speaking to movement. My good friend’s mom died in 2008 of ALS. I watched her from beginning to end. She was a woman of great faith and her family and friends loved her to the end. It was terrible. Your body just slowly becomes unusable. It’s a slow death.  There are not too many words to share except to sit there with them and be with them through it. Right now 30,000 Americans suffer from it and countless more are impacted. It worthy of our attention. 

The ice bucket challenge has reportedly raised $40M. The ALS foundation received $19.4M last year, but in one month they have doubled last year’s total! It’s not just about the money either – there is new awareness, which could lead to more grants, more public sympathy and more government aid.

I will never donate to the ALS Association. Don’t get me wrong. I think ALS is terrible. The ice-bucket challenge has been a clever way of raising awareness. However, the ALS association, amongst the many other things it does, supports embryonic stem cell research. To support them would be like asking me to support Planned Parenthood, who provides many good services, but also helps women kill their unborn child.

Just by example, the ALS association gave a $500,000 grant that involved “stem cells…from the spinal cord of a single fetus electively aborted after 8 weeks gestation.” This was a child that had fingers, toes and a heart beat. You can read more about their view of stem cells here.

My point is not to win anyone over to the pro-life side, but instead that for those of you taking up the challenge and donating, you might want to consider a place like Team Gleason to send your money. Then, you will not only be participating in a great cause, but giving to a non-profit that doesn't operate against your convictions. 

Show Comments   |   Leave a Comment  |  Tags:  culture, money
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