Early in July 2005, after three years based in
Johannesburg, South Africa, well-known American author and
theologian, Dr. Bruce Wilkinson, moved to the land-locked kingdom of
Swaziland, a former British colony, to give practical expression to
his “Dream for Africa.” ...
As a very able, influential and wealthy man,
Bruce decided to lend a helping hand and soon devised a grand scheme
for the upliftment of destitute communities and individuals on the
underdeveloped continent. He had a
dream, a vision, an ambitious
plan, to channel vast humanitarian aid from the US to communities in
Africa where it is most needed. He selected the poverty-stricken,
former British colony, Swaziland, as a role model for the rest of
Africa on how to successfully change lifestyles and eradicate
poverty and suffering....
Bruce secured an extensive support-base among
private companies and churches, and also received a large grant from
the US government to combat AIDS in Africa. ...
What went wrong? On 19 December 05 the
Street Journal published a lengthy article on how the African
dream of Bruce turned into a nightmare. The article is titled:
“Unanswered prayers: In Swaziland, US preacher sees his dream
vanish.” In this article it is also related how Bruce acted against
the advice of the US ambassador to Swaziland:
“In May, Mr. Wilkinson tried to win the Bush
administration to his side. In a convoy of SUVs, he took U.S.
Ambassador Lewis Lucke to the proposed site of the Dream
Village.... A few days later, Mr. Lucke showed up at Mr.
Wilkinson’s door and told him he considered it unwise to move
orphans away from their villages....
...The ambassador’s words seemed prophetic a
couple of weeks later, when a Dream for Africa draft plan found its
way into Swazi newspapers, turning public opinion sharply against
Mr. Wilkinson. Under the headline ‘British Colony or Dr Bruce
Colony?’ one op-ed writer in the Swazi News wrote, ‘Why can’t he
simply tell us that he wants to be given the whole country so that
he can gloat to his friends overseas that he owns a modern day
colony in Africa called Swaziland?’” ...
The following are the main mistakes that he
Ignoring the principles of NEPAD.
The development model chosen by African leaders is that of NEPAD –
New Partnership for Africa’s Development. NEPAD is basically a
pledge by African leaders to eradicate poverty and to place their
countries on a path of sustainable growth and development. They are
looking for partners to tackle the problems already identified by
them. They are not looking for people to tell them what to do....
Demands for land.
Bruce asked for large tracts of land, and that really infuriated the
Swazi government and public. Land is seen as a national asset in
Inevitable clash with African social
institutions. The orphanages (dream
villages) that Bruce wanted to establish are at variance with
African systems of kinship and the caring for their members....
A wrong approach to development.
...The collapse of Bruce’s dream and the abandoning of his
development projects have been experienced in a highly traumatic way
by the pastors in Swaziland with whom he had already established a
working relationship. They feel that they have been left in the
lurch by Bruce after his grand scheme had failed to gain public
Apart from the wrong approach and methods
followed by Bruce there are also serious objections by evangelical
Christians against his biblical views, priorities and methods. The
following matters have been raised:
Humanitarian rather than Christian programmes.
In terms of the Great Commission, evangelistic work and discipleship
must always take precedence over humanitarian aid and social
Since his arrival in South Africa, Bruce has actively engaged in the
annual transformations rallies. These rallies are ecumenical
in nature and aimed at reconstructing society in accordance with
certain Christian and moral principles, as well as promoting a
buoyant economy which will ensure a high employment rate. This is a
kingdom vision for the world and therefore part of dominion theology. There must, according to this movement, be
visible manifestations of God’s kingdom on earth, which means that
entire nations must be discipled to become part of the kingdom...
Deceptive Jabez prayers.
Bruce... taught people to recite this 33-word prayer in 1 Chronicles
4:10 every day to receive great blessings in their lives. Bruce
recited the prayer regularly during the past 35 years and credits
this practice for the 22 million copies of his books that were sold
worldwide. But he now says that he tries to come to grips with the
miracle that didn’t materialise in Swaziland despite his unceasing
recitation of the
Association with Robert Schuller.
It is disturbing to many Christians that Bruce participates in
meetings of Robert Schuller’s Institute for Successful Church
Leadership. Schuller relies on psychological self-esteem programmes
to change people’s lives, rather than the gospel message which tells
us that lost people must first be under the conviction of their
sins, failures and lost state before God (the opposite of
self-esteem) before they can be forgiven and saved....
What has been said about Bruce Wilkinson in this
review is said in the spirit of 2 Timothy 2: “A servant of the Lord
must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in
humility correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God will
grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that
they may come to their senses” (2 Tim. 2:24-26). “Let him who thinks
he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12).