Corruption Is a Discipleship Problem

Six ways Christians often make the problem worse and five steps toward a solution

Led by Malawi’s chief law enforcement officer, 19 armed agents surrounded Martha Chizuma’s home in the capital city of Lilongwe at 4 a.m. on December 6, 2022. Whisked away in her pajamas in the early morning darkness, Chizuma, the director general of Malawi’s Anti-Corruption Bureau, was forced to kneel on the floor for questioning at a police station before being released. Her arrest was retribution for her efforts to expose high-level corruption in the government.

A London-trained lawyer and formerly Malawi’s government ombudsman, Chizuma was the first Malawian anti-corruption leader chosen through a purely merit-based process. “People fought against my appointment, and now they wanted to undermine me ,” she explained, especially because she was leading a grand corruption probe that was “a test case of the government’s commitment to integrity.”

Those who engineered her arrest presumably hoped to silence a godly public official determined to “spit fire at corrupt politicians,” as the Nyasa Times reported several days later. They have not succeeded.

The fight against corruption takes courage like Martha’s, in part because corruption offers massive rewards. Its global financial toll is notoriously difficult to estimate, but the total may exceed $1 trillion annually. Every year, 25 percent of the world’s adults pay at least one bribe. The demand for bribes from public officials causes many Christian-majority nations to have unfavorable rankings on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index.

Too often, evangelicals are part of the corruption problem, which takes many forms: bribery, fraud, nepotism, human trafficking, …

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