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Who is Addressing Root Causes of the Biggest Human Problems?

Speaking in organizational terms, the Roberta Winter Institute receives oversight from William Carey International University. This is a very beneficial arrangement to the RWI as our goals fit hand-and-glove with their goals. The University’s mission statement is: preparing men and women to discover and address the roots of human problems around the world. Given that one of the biggest human problems is disease, our key aim could be stated as a specific outworking of WCIU’s: Inspiring faith based initiatives to address the roots of disease.

This idea of getting to the problem at the roots is profound and essential. It comes quite obviously from horticulture. Some plants, especially some weeds, will never die unless you dig out their roots and utterly destroy them. You can cut them off at the surface time after time, but they just keep coming back. But when the root is exposed and removed from the soil, the weed is gone.

There are also medical connotations. In medicine, it's easy to understand the difference between treating symptoms and curing a medical condition. When you're in pain because you've broken your wrist, you want the pain to go away as quickly as possible. But painkillers won't make your wrist better. True healing is needed before the symptoms disappear for good.

Colloquial examples abound - one I like is the case of being so busy mopping up the floor that you can’t turn off the spigot.

In this entry I’d like to explore which theologically motivated organizations are addressing the roots of the five biggest problems facing mankind today.  By exposing just how little is being done to address the roots of disease, I trust  you’ll see the rationale for the RWI’s existence.

I’ve based my list on Rick Warren’s Five Giants

  1. Poverty
  2. Illiteracy
  3. Corrupt Governments
  4. Spiritual Darkness
  5. Disease


1. Poverty
Here is an ambitious partnership between ten Christian anti-poverty organizations

2. Illiteracy

3. Corrupt Governments
This is largely a governmental concern (as evidenced by this list of organizations), but here are a few expressly Christian examples:

4. Spiritual Darkness
Rather than list a few good examples, I’ll simply ask, what church, denomination or mission organization is not focused on addressing the roots of spiritual darkness?

5. Disease
While Christians through the ages are noted for being kind to people who are already sick, helping them get well, defending them against aggressive pathogens, we are not well known for attempting to eradicate those pathogens themselves. The World Health Organization is known for that. The Carter Center is known for that. Increasingly Bill Gates is becoming known for that. But if we in the body of Christ don’t take a very public, top-to-bottom stance against disease at its roots, both in our theology and in our practical efforts, people will continue to assume that God intended and created the diseases that terrorize us, and by association, many other forms of evil that can’t be attributed to sinful human behavior. Is that really the kind of God we represent when we go out to win people to Christ, his son?


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