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DEVELOPING FAITH: THEOLOGIES OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN ZIMBABWE

In: Journal of Religion in Africa
Author: Erica Bornstein
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Abstract

This paper analyzes the role of religious faith in the work of two Christian NGOs involved in economic development in Zimbabwe, World Vision and Christian Care. While economic development is rarely analyzed in terms of religious ideas, this essay explores the religious aspects of development for employees of Christian NGOs and recipients of their development assistance. Uniting development and evangelism, employees of Christian NGOs articulate faith through concepts of 'holism', 'lifestyle evangelism', and prayer. These ideas and practices permeate institutional directives, the experiences of NGO workers, and the communities they serve. The essay compares what faith means to communities being 'developed' at project sites in rural Zimbabwe with faith as it is exercised alongside administrative power in NGO offices. It demonstrates how faith structures the initiatives and interpretation of economic development, and traces what is religious about development for NGO employees and for the rural communities they assist.

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