The Transfer of Value
There is a practice which in our world is considered to be very easy but actually is difficult to the point of the impossible. I hope that along with me you’re concerned about this so let’s talk together. It seems that one of the large assumptions going in our time, an assumption believed by almost all is the fact that it is easy to transfer value from one person to the other. Consequently, we have the idea that if a person who possesses money can give it to someone who does not, those two people will be equally able from there on out. We also have the idea that truckloads of food or plane loads of technology or schools full of education, or great national capability can be easily transferred from one nation to the other, from the United States to Ethiopia or from Germany to Uraquay. We have the idea that value consists in a thing like a dollar bill worth 100 cents and that value can be applied anywhere. We think also that a truck sent to Chad can do the same work that is can do in the United States. We have an idea that simply teaching people how to do things will guarantee that those things will be done because we think that along with that teaching will come the same values, the same motivation that made that teaching effective here.
May I submit to you that few things could be further from the truth. The transfer of value is not only very difficult, it is nearly impossible. A truck that can do a marvelous amount of hauling work in America could easily fall apart in two weeks on the impossible roads of Congo. A hundred thousand dollars strategically invested in the capable hands of those who are adept at the use of money in America, that hundred thousand dollars could disappear like a morning cloud in a society that does not have a corresponding sense of responsibility. Consequently, a mystery still seems to live in the lives of people. We tell ourselves “Look, we have spent millions of dollars to Africa, why haven’t these people learned to feed themselves and in the process, learned how to live?” Even in our own land, we tell ourselves that we have put billions of dollars a year into welfare programs. How come these programs continue to expand, demanding more time, money and effort with each successive year that passes?
The answer is that the transfer of value is not only difficult, it is nearly impossible. We Americans, being altruistically inclined, think that it is possible to help people rather easily. It is not, it is almost infinitely complicated.
The chief reason for that complication is that a seed may be transplanted from a culture such as has grown up in the hearts of Christian believers in America and land in an atheistic or pagan or animalistic culture and instantly die. A transfer of that value that was made valuable by the exercise of responsibility here can be destroyed with a snap of the fingers because of the lack of exercise of responsibility there.
We need therefore to face the fact that the greatest value that we must attempt to transport is spiritual value. No person can be finally helped at all until there is a wonderful spiritual, ideological change that takes place within his heart and soul. No person can finally be sustained apart from the birth and emergence of personal responsibility without which he will continue to be a liability without end.
This lends tremendous new importance to an activity long considered important by Christians, namely the preaching of the Gospel across the world. The Christian missionary is, in my judgment, therefore one of the most strategic individuals on the face of the earth. Without his good work in bringing the hope of eternal life to the lost, nothing else that really matters can truly be done. Let us learn again the infinite value of spiritual values. Let us become masters of their transferability because only so will we learn how other values can be brought from the seedbed of your heart and mind into a pagan culture and made to thrive.