D. Written for ordinary readers, not economists
We have written this book for ordinary adult readers. We have not written it for professional economists (though we hope that many of them will read it and agree with it). The book is therefore written mostly with ordinary language instead of technical economic terminology. Where specialized terms are needed, we explain them in the text where they first occur.
E. Written to leaders, especially Christian leaders, but also those who are not Christians
Our primary audience for this book is Christian leaders in poor nations (but also non-Christian leaders—see below). We are writing especially for Christians who believe the Bible and are willing to follow its principles for economic development. And we are writing to leaders, because they are the ones who can bring about the necessary changes in their countries.
By “leaders” we mean government leaders, business leaders, education leaders, non-governmental organization (NGO) leaders, charitable organization leaders, and certainly church leaders, especially pastors (because their preaching and teaching can eventually change a culture). We also hope that some who read this book will be inspired to seek to become leaders in their nations so that they can begin to implement the changes we outline.
However, we also hope that Christians in more prosperous nations will read this book, because many of them can have influence on poor nations through mission organizations, mission trips, friendships, development organizations, and denominational networks. We hope that some readers in wealthy nations might even be moved to devote their lives to helping poor nations escape from poverty in the ways we outline here. (Also see some practical suggestions at the end of chapter 5, 184-86.)
If you are reading this book and do not consider yourself to be a Christian, or do not think of the Christian Bible as the Word of God, we still invite you to consider what we say here. Many of our facts and arguments are taken from economic history, not from the Bible. As you read the parts that are based on the Bible, we invite you to at least think of the Bible’s teachings as ideas that come from a valuable book of ancient wisdom, and consider whether the ideas seem right or not.
Our book also has some application to wealthier nations today. History shows that many wealthy nations have failed to remain prosperous (think of the once-wealthy kingdoms of Egypt, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Spain, and the Ottoman Empire). We hope that readers in wealthy nations will see applications of this book to their own countries, especially those that are in danger of abandoning the policies and values that made them economically prosperous in the first place.
To anyone in a leadership role in a poor country, the message of our book is this: there is a solution to poverty that really works. It has been proven again and again in world history. And it is supported by the moral teachings of the Bible. If this solution is put into place, we are confident it will lift entire nations out of poverty (not just a few individuals). We are asking you to consider this solution for your own nation.
At this point, someone might object that renowned developmental economist Paul Collier has demonstrated that one billion of the world’s poorest people live in fifty-eight smaller countries that are essentially caught in four different “traps” that make it much more difficult for them to escape from poverty than for four billion other people in developing economies. Those traps are: (1) the conflict trap, (2) the natural resource trap, (3) the trap of being landlocked with bad neighbors, and
We find Collier’s book remarkably well informed and insightful. We recognize that the factors he points out make the task of overcoming poverty more difficult in these nations. But even Collier is hopeful about the possibility of progress, for he wrote his book to explain some steps that wealthy nations can take to help the countries where “the bottom billion” live. We believe that, though the task is difficult, the steps we propose in this book will eventually bring even these poorest of nations from poverty toward more and more prosperity