What Africa Needs Now

An atheist ex-pat from Malawi writes about how important Evangelical missionaries are to the future of Africa. Not just the work they do, but what they believe. I read it from a position of ignorance, but I hope that he is right. Looking forward to discussing this with my brother-in-law Scott, a missionary in Tanzania.

Now a confirmed atheist, I’ve become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people’s hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.

used to avoid this truth by applauding – as you can – the practical work of mission churches in Africa. It’s a pity, I would say, that salvation is part of the package, but Christians black and white, working in Africa, do heal the sick, do teach people to read and write; and only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say the world would be better without it. I would allow that if faith was needed to motivate missionaries to help, then, fine: but what counted was the help, not the faith.

But this doesn’t fit the facts. Faith does more than support the missionary; it is also transferred to his flock. This is the effect that matters so immensely, and which I cannot help observing.

Read the rest of the article here.

I know some the folks who hang out here have some unique insight into this issue, and I’d love to hear it.

2 thoughts on “What Africa Needs Now

  1. Trevor Carpenter

    I tell you, Mike, I immediately thought of Ali when I read this article earlier today. Then, I got busy at work and forgot to shoot her an email/Facebook message.

    Thanks for tossing it up here. So, Ali, what DO you think?

  2. aly hawkins

    I think you need to learn how to spell my name, son. :)

    I read the article earlier today and my first reaction was, “Well of COURSE, Jesus changes people for the better. Duh!”

    I have never been a particular fan of values-free multiculturalism; that is, I don’t have any problem whatsoever making a value judgment about female gender mutilation, child labor, religious oppression or systemic corruption (or, for that matter, neo-colonialism, institutionalized greed or cultural imperialism). In this, I agree with the columnist — not all things about all cultures are equally good.

    That said, I’m not as willing to declare that understanding one’s identity through the lens of family, clan and tribe, as many Africans do, is the levy holding back the flood of Africa’s potential. Likewise, I’m distrustful of the idea that Western-style individualism, born out of the Reformation, is just the surge to bring down the dam. I totally get that I’m a pansy liberal, but the columnist’s cavalier assumption that Africans must become more like us to succeed makes me deeply uncomfortable.

    Hyper-individualism in the West has given us the industrial and information ages, which have led to widespread prosperity — in that, it’s been a resounding success. It’s also made a lot of people awfully lonely and relationally retarded, particularly as the evangelical church has preached a Reformation-gospel-on-steroids, a gospel that focuses on being right rather than being good and loving to one another.

    I would be very saddened to see African culture, with its emphasis on living, dying, succeeding and failing TOGETHER, become like our culture, with its obsession with pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps. I’m not convinced that it’s some kind of inevitable evolution that MUST happen if Africa is to emerge into the world community. Isn’t there a sweet spot in the middle somewhere?

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