DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Economic and Political Blocks

Written by: on October 13, 2019

It is incredible how Peter Frankopan, a senior research fellow at Worcester College, Oxford, and a historian, brings out the silk road world model that is taking shape and has been from the ancient period. Just as the Quaker church has been evolving from its inception of the 17th century, the silk road has also been moving in the same direction. The world is developing from an interesting point of view and moving to another different point of view. From the time of Alexander, the great and the big Roman Empire, we saw both economic and power in military growth that went conquering kingdoms intentionally acquiring wealth. We also witnessed a massive extension of the British Empire across the world-conquering for power and wealth.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, we saw a similar strategy used by the Quakers as they moved from Britain to the USA, expanding the Quaker church as well as expanding their wealth through business and massive farming. They aggressively moved to the mid-west of America and took big farms where they made their money for missions. They were very much involved in the Wheeling business and made a lot of money and in ship business. They later abandoned their wheeling business and invested that money in establishing learning institutions in the States. The strategy of power and wealth was more among the missionaries as they went to creating churches in the world. When they came to Kenya, they came and established themselves in an indigenous forest at Kaimosi. The forest had been there for centuries, with virgin forest. The Quaker missionaries made more money out of the forest by cutting many hardwood trees that had been in place for centuries and ran their mission using the money from the trees. They sold the timber to British settlers for construction, and in the end, they wasted the forest and depleted it severely. Later after they had left, they blamed the Africans that they had destroyed the forest. But in the end, they planted the Friends church that is standing to date as very strong in the world with more members than anywhere else.

Frankopan, in his book The Silk Roads, says in conclusion about the strategy of the Chinese economic approach that, Railway lines are being planned that will pass through Iran, Turkey, the Balkans, and Siberia to Moscow, Berlin and Paris, and new roots will link Beijing with Pakistan, Kazakhstan with India. There is even talk of a tunnel 200 miles long being built under the Bering strait that will allow trains to pass from China through Alaska and Canada and into the continental United States.[1] In the book of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon expresses through his wisdom that “What has been will be again; there is nothing new under the sun.”[2] It is true history repeats itself especially with world powers, economics, politics, and kingdoms. The reemerging of history is in a new dispensation during the technology era, but the same principles are applied. Where Horses were used, the train, and not just the train, but high-speed trains are used for faster and carrying more goods across the globe. China is building its world economic power through trade and manufacturing using cheap labor, which big American companies have moved to China and massive production of goods by these companies is produced and send to all over the world. Sound transport systems are needed for faster and smooth flow of goods. What we see now in the past is very much alive subject across the Silk Roads, says Frankopan. In 2012, President Obama said, “Our Nation is at a moment of transition.” The world is transforming before our eyes; the president continued, something that demands our leadership (so that) the United States of America will remain the greatest force for freedom and security the world has ever known.[3] Unfortunately, churches are facing a similar turbulent as we move to the future. But our hope in the divine powers of the Lord whom we have anchored our trust. But we must equally know the world is changing and must take a step in our strategy for future survival.

[1] (Frankopan, 2015, p. Location 516 Kindle edition)

[2] Ecclesiastes 1:9 NIV

[3] (Frankopan, 2015)

About the Author


John Muhanji

I am the Director Africa Ministries Office of Friends United Meeting. I coordinate all Quaker activities and programs in the Quaker churches and school mostly in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The focus of my work is more on leadership development and church planting in the region especially in Tanzania.. Am married with three children all grown up now. I love playing golf as my exercise hobby. I also love reading.

One response to “Economic and Political Blocks”

  1. mm Sean Dean says:

    John, thank you for the post. History does repeat itself and there are many great parallels depending on how you choose to look at history. Thanks for your reflection on how the Friends movement in many ways reflects the development of the Silk Roads.

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