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The meltdown of Western civilization as we know it

It’s past midnight and I just got off the phone with a friend who has been very successful in business.  He began the conversation by saying, “I’m watching the meltdown of Western civilization as we know it.”   He and I love to talk about economics when we’re not talking about missi…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
It’s past midnight and I just got off the phone with a friend who has been very successful in business.  He began the conversation by saying, “I’m watching the meltdown of Western civilization as we know it.”
He and I love to talk about economics when we’re not talking about missions.  So, this was a normal opening to one of our conversations.
“What do you mean?” I responded.
“I’m reading the news tonight.  Look at how it’s going: Lehman Brothers is filing for bankruptcy, Merrill Lynch is sold, and Greenspan is saying that the current crisis is the worst in a hundred years, including the Great Depression.”
“He said THAT?!” I began to search Google News for the quote.  There it was – Greenspan is not optimistic.  This is the guy who used to raise an eyebrow and the market would jump a hundred points.  “How are the markets responding?”
“The Dow is down 360 in overnight trading.”
The conversation went on from there. In another life I used to invest money and follow the markets. I came up with an options arbitrage model that, when my buddy Vern Howard and I presented it, won a competition at the business school we attended.  But this is my past, not my future, and not where I want to focus this blog.  I bring it up because these events will affect the way we all live our lives.  And, among other things, at AIM, it will impact our ability to feed a thousand orphans who depend upon us in Swaziland or to send thousands of students on missions.  We’ve been working hard to cut costs over the last year to be as ready as we can.
So, I’m writing this blog at 1:30 a.m. and I’ve already sent an email to AIM’s leaders alerting them to the fact that I believe life will be changing for all of us in the near future.  I asked Steve Basden to make sure that any cash AIM has is transferred to our account in Bank of America, which, along with Wells Fargo, is conservative in its policies and is likely to weather any crunch.  And I suggested that they get out of the market with any savings if it’s not too late. Of course there’s always the chance that Fed could surprise us as it did the last time I warned of a drop in the market. And I’ve been wrong before.
But what’s the bigger picture here?  I think it’s encapsulated in the last paragraph of my memo to our leaders:
“Let’s pray and ask the Lord how he’d have us respond in terms of the ministry. The good news is that people will be turning to God and looking for hope in record numbers. The world’s marketplace may be going to hell in a hand basket, but the demand for our work will have a bull market! The Kingdom is coming – the earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it.”
It may look bleak, but we have nothing to worry about.

Comments (8)

  • yep, there’s tougher times ahead. It just make ya wonder how this upcoming world economic change fits into the overarching will of God for humankind. I’m afraid it will reveal among us who of us are the “sunshine christians” & who is in this for real. I’m also uneasy that we will be severely disappointed in some of our closest friends.

    We here in America have lived lives of such incredible privilege that we have equated abundance with being Christian, like it’s a birthright, or at least a perk of being a Christ follower. The coming financial “adjustment” is gonna put a kink in that kind of thinking.

    Unfortunately, there will be lots of finger pointing, withint the Christian community, & from without it. I’m afraid we will all be slow to comprehend that our financial situation is just a living out of the principle of sowing & reaping.

    I’ve been reading your blogs for a few months now (& recommending AIM to my 20somethings). Tnanks for sharing your perspectives. It’s been refreshing.

    Let’s all get ready for some belt-tightening…

  • Isn’t it great to know that our Father still owns the cattle on a thousand hills?

    Praying right now that all provision needed will miraculoulsy come as needed. Praying that those of us who who “have” will see how much we really DO have and how much we can still easily afford to give away.

  • Great post, Seth. You are at once both in the world, aware and vigilant, but also not of it: kingdom-focused.

    It’s posts like these that keep me coming back!

    (in reference to your previous post about simplicityI wonder if we’ll soon find it “easier” to choose the simple life, because it will be more *necessary* than aesthetic)

  • I am a BAC associate and shareholder and today, at least mathematically, has not been a good day as the stock is down almost 20%! However, I know that I am but a steward of the talent and resources God has provided me and that relationship has not changed because of today’s math. I firmly believe our mission is to work with whatever He provides us to further the kingdom…….

    BTW, Seth, I’m sure your blog readers are not surprised to learn your creative mind came up with an innovative idea to win that b school investment competition many triple witching hours ago. It was just fun going along for the ride!

  • You really do write things that keep me coming back. My husband just lost his job two weeks ago for the first time in our 37-year marriage. Believe me, we are re-evaluating EVERYTHING. We are also trying to put into practice what we have always believed about “resting” in Him.

  • Jean, I’m sorry to hear that. I pray that he finds a new job soon. And that in the mean time he gives you the peace that passes understanding.

  • I’m in total agreement with this assessment of what’s coming for this country economically. I’ve also been praying that God would do whatever it takes to get our attention in this country…if this is what it takes, then so be it. I heard and evangelist speaking at our church one night say, “If America doesn’t make it, that’s okay. My hope is NOT in this country, it’s in Jesus and His sufficiency for everything I need.” I agree with that and have been thinking that for several years now…As a business owner, I may just get the opportunity to live that out.


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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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