Matthew Parris writes as an atheist, and says that he truly believes that Africa needs God.
Fascinating. I thought of contextualization when I read this.
Christianity, post-Reformation and post-Luther, with its teaching of a direct, personal, two-way link between the individual and God, unmediated by the collective, and unsubordinate to any other human being, smashes straight through the philosphical/spiritual framework I've just described. It offers something to hold on to to those anxious to cast off a crushing tribal groupthink. That is why and how it liberates.
Those who want Africa to walk tall amid 21st-century global competition must not kid themselves that providing the material means or even the knowhow that accompanies what we call development will make the change. A whole belief system must first be supplanted.
And I'm afraid it has to be supplanted by another.
It is still kind of amazing to me that believers can take money and turn it into ministry in their own church, or in global missionary efforts. Useless paper dollars can be transformed into the eternal salvation of human souls. Wow.
Recently the Lord has allowed our church to begin regularly supporting a new missionary family in addition to the others that we have already been supporting. Our philosophy is not to support dozens and dozens of missionaries for small change every month. Rather, we want to have a select team and offer each family more substantial financial support.
One of the other things that we were able to do to open 2012 was decide that we will temporarily increase all of our missionary support by 1/3. So, for the first half of 2012, instead of sending X to each missionary for the 6 month period, we are sending 1.33 * X. We decided to do this in light of the hard times that they are facing.
I hesitated to write the previous paragraph, mainly because I don't want to be seen as tooting our own horn. And, I am supposed to preach a message on humility at DBTS in a couple of weeks! But I decided that this is not an individual-type thing where pride is puffing up an individual sinner. Instead, this is a church-type thing, and as a challenge to our brothers and sisters in like-minded churches, we think it is good to raise the level of support to the cause of missions rather than to cut it. Even Paul offered a financial challenge to his readers based on the generosity of other churches (2 Corinthians 8:1-3).
Obviously, the recent state of the economy in Michigan may not allow everyone to rise to our challenge, but there are some churches who probably could. Consider some of our "tough" times in light of currency fluctuations and recessions in other countries and reduced support levels from US churches to missionaries overseas, and you can imagine the pinch some of them are feeling. Just this morning, a missionary wrote how their mission told them last week that they would be having an increase in their health insurance premiums. Surprise surprise! But this increase is not accompanied by an increase in support from their churches!
We need to remember that the workers are worthy of their hire. They are not rightly in the work for the "hire," but they do need some "hire" to stay in the work.
Last weekend we had several missionaries in to speak to the church. It was a wonderful and refreshing time in which we could refocus on the Great Commission as the new year begins.
We learned about missions work in limited access countries through the Internet, about Bible distribution, about the training of national pastors, and about translation of the Scriptures into some of the nearly 6700 languages that do not have any Bible translation.
Not all of these ministries are "traditional" evangelistic and church planting ministries, but they are necessary to carry out the Great Commission. It is marvelous to think about how God uses so many different Christians in so many different ways, working together to accomplish the Great Commission to bring the gospel to the world. And then, to think that many of us can stay right where we are and participate in that work through prayer, financial support, and other service ministry—that's amazing!
Join me in thanking God for His great work in the world. --MAP