It’s an honor for me to chair the new EEA Hope for Europe Network for Economics. This is an area that I’m passionate about and in which I see God moving in Europe and across the globe. My background however is not economics. So how does a non-economist get to be so passionate about economics?
In 2012 I was part of the organizing committee of a European congress that brought together leaders in the Missions Movement and the Prayer Movement. During one session I chaired a discussion between several leaders who were all involved in combatting human trafficking. At the end of the discussion I asked them a question: “If we could do one thing to effectively combat human trafficking in the near future, what would that be?”
To my surprise they all said the same thing: “Plant one million schools in the poorest areas of the earth in the next five years and within a generation we could see trafficking reduced to a mere fraction of what it is now.” They went on to explain that poverty fuels human trafficking and that poverty is, to a large extent, caused by a lack of opportunity in the area of jobs and education. Money is needed to plant schools and to pay teachers and business is required to provide jobs. This started me thinking about the possible role of business and economics in helping to create a more more just and equitable world.
This interest was intensified when I read a few months later that the current generation of Europeans between 18 and 35 years old have almost no chance of finding meaningful employment in their lifetimes! By the time companies start hiring again on a large scale there will be a new group of fresh graduates from our colleges, universities and vocational institutions. This is not acceptable. The Bible says that “a righteous man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children.” We have an obligation to future generations.
It is clear that we need to rethink the very foundations upon which our economies are built. Behavior stems from our core values and any long-term solution to economic problems needs to start there. Within the network we will be examining new economic paradigms in which relationships play a central role. These paradigms are based on Christian tradition, faith and thought. We will also be examining the role that multistakholder businesses can play in revitalizing economies and supporting spiritual renewal.
Coordinator: Arleen Westerhof
Arleen Westerhof is the Lead Pastor of the God’s Embasssy Church in Amsterdam together with her husband Dick. Born in Jamaica, sh
e grew up in Canada and moved to the Netherlands to work for a multinational company after completing a Ph.D. in Chemistry. In 2003 God called her into full-time ministry. In addition to pastoring she is an advisor to The Coalition for Apostolic Reformation, a network devoted to promoting the practical application of principles inspired by Christian faith in every sphere of influence in society. She is also the Founder and Coordinator of the European Economic Summit, a semi-annual invitation-only Summit which aims to introduce new paradigms on finance and economy which are inspired by Christian tradition, faith and thought, and to present transformational businesses as new models for poverty alleviation and sustainable economies.