Can Nations Change?

by Chris Lautsbaugh on August 5, 2013

Many negatives characteristics describe the nations we serve in. Some of these issues may even be the reasons we are serving overseas. Issues of crime, corruption and poverty are common to most nations where we as missionaries reside. Although, the irony is, these issues are no longer limited to the developing world, but are rampant on a broken planet.

It is easy to list the difficulties of a nation or shake your fist at rampant injustice.

But, can we see progress in these nations?

In the individual lives we minister to it, is easy to observe change. We can track growth or see the smile of hope. When we cast our eyes outward towards the nation, do we see this same progress or continual decline?

Throughout the Bible, men like Joseph and Daniel influenced whole nations. They did it by being faithful to obey what God had asked. As they served in their area of influence, nations were impacted.

I’ve been thinking about this recently in South Africa. We moved rental homes within the past few weeks. Six years ago when we last moved, it took two months and repeated phone calls to have our telephone line moved. The corporation who deals with telecommunication is a monopoly. They, along with the electricity company, receive universal hatred and angst in South Africa. You cannot say their names with out the requisite eye rolling.

This time, my phone was moved in four working days!

We’ve seen reform in the department of Home Affairs. This is the government agency which deals with registering births, deaths, and issuing legal documents such as passports. While we were adopting our son, we experienced lost paperwork, botched documents, and poor customer service. At one point our son had three birthdays!

While they will not yet be described as efficient, we’ve seen better procedures put in place and a huge improvement in the ability to get updates. I’ve heard stories of people receiving documents in months which took us years.

I’ve seen tremendous progress in South Africa in terms of jobs and opportunities, Neighborhoods are blending and people of color are engaged in virtually every field of society. I vividly remember the first time I saw a black doctor serving the most affluent hospital in a traditionally white area. Sure, we still have the biggest gap of rich and poor in the world, but I can see change.

Many times I lose these perspectives and get caught in the day-to-day frustrations of a nation different than my own.

It is easy for me to feel discouraged as I view the mountain of change which still needs to occur. In all our nations, we have enough of these messages bombarding our senses on a daily basis. Today, let’s engage in the ministry of encouragement, rather than discouragement.

What signs of progress can you see in the nation you serve?

Share with the Life Overseas community encouraging us about positive changes you see taking place in your nation.


– Chris Lautsbaugh, Missionary teacher and author with Youth With A Mission, living in S. Africa.
Blog: NoSuperHeroes   Twitter: @lautsbaugh   Facebook: NoSuperHeroes

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About Chris Lautsbaugh

In missions for 20+ years currently in South Africa as a teacher and leadership coach. He serves side by side with wife, Lindsey, and two boys, Garett and Thabo. Blogs at on grace, leadership, and missions. Wrote Death of the Modern SuperHero:How Grace Breaks our Rules.
  • This is such a good reminder! I’ve been trying to remember to be more thankful for the good things around me in my host country. It’s too easy to overlook them – especially when tiredness or culture shock are taking over the day!

    On a national level – I think the biggest encouraging thing I’m seeing is a growing awareness and outrage over the treatment of women and girls and a building determination to do something about it. My country is ranked as the worst of the G20 countries to live in as a woman – but if acknowledging you have a problem is half the battle, then we’re getting to half way!

    • That is fantastic news Sarah. We have to identify movement, even if slight, to help us push through difficult times. Thanks for sharing!

  • Many of the advances you mention of South Africa are true of Bolivia in the last few years – gov. paperwork, adoptions, customer service. Another addition to Bolivian advancement in the last few years is proper signage for the names of the streets. Before there were plaques on the houses and buildings by the doors that could not bee seen by drivers. Now there are posts with reflective material and large lettering on the corners at the intersections in the major cities. This comes with the added bonus of street names on Google Maps. Getting around has become so much more efficient!

    Thanks for the reminder to focus on the positive changes throughout the world, Chris.

    • It’s so easy to take those simple things for granted, huh?!

  • Richelle Wright

    I think it is easy, sometimes, for those who are the government in a country more known for its poverty and/or corruption than anything else to either just give up or have the “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” mentality – or just wait for the bigger, stronger, wealthier to come and take care of your problems for you. I was encouraged the past year plus a little to see that in our adopted land, the government was taking a strong stand against possible terrorist activity – not just within their borders but also within the much larger world region. It has been a courageous as well as strategic step.

  • Dalaina May

    I see Peru putting infrastructure in place to combat the rampant sex trafficking. I also see a very racist/classist society beginning to take steps to protect the native communities from corporations who have often exploited them.

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