This is an article from the July-August 2017 issue: The Roma

A Word for the Global Church from Africa

A Word for the Global Church from Africa

Last year, while in Thailand, I was particularly discouraged. I had a cold, had just flown 18 hours and was worn down. After adjusting, I began to do what I do at all conferences: connect with people—Often with people I know at some depth. But this time, there was a new brother. He had grown up in an African country and been sent as a global worker to a large country in Asia. He had been there for 3-4 years—it was his 2nd cross-cultural field of service, and likely his 5th or 6th language—having grown up in Africa.

Since the event was focused on his Asian country, I noticed this man talking with the others in their language with great expression. They listened carefully with interest! I asked another leader how his language was coming along. They said that while his vocabulary was basic, his grammar and pronunciation was excellent. He could tell stories in a way that engaged people. Those who spoke the language loved to listen to him and were honored that he spoke so well. And, that was true back in his own country—where he works with students near a university campus. Beyond language skills, I’ve found out that he is a man of insight with a passion to tell of Christ and his love.

Since then, I’ve tracked with him. He is now back in Africa for a home assignment and a break. But he is sharing vision and his burden for the lost with the church back home. While there are more workers going out from Africa, it is rare to find them in Asia, so I’m sure he is in great demand as a speaker—if for no other reason than it is interesting to hear him.

But, in a prayer email he sent several weeks ago, he expressed great frustration with the level of vision from some of the churches in one area back in his home country. One night he couldn’t sleep. So he woke a friend and went to the graves of workers who had pioneered the gospel and established churches in the area where he was. He wrote his burden and prayer — which reminded me of the way I and others who mobilize feel at times. Here is one paragraph from his plea:[1]

Today erecting Church buildings is the top agenda of almost every local church in [this people group]. Erecting [an] office building is the top agenda. Erecting … [a] Memorial Building is the top agenda.But, the gospel, outreach, and sending missionaries to the unreached people groups is not the top agenda. They misunderstand me, they say [I am] against the church building.No, that is wrong! I believe we need more infrastructures in [my country].But any project that kills the gospel [or] that consumes all the resources, I oppose it in the name of Jesus! When they came up with a mega church design, I thought they would finish that and turn their attention to the gospel work, but it did not happen. They came up with primary and secondary school project.I still hoped that when they finish that, they would turn their attention to the gospel work but it did not happen—they came up with building shops and guesthouse and so on.Now I realize that there is no end for this.It is just killing the gospel in a very subtle way.

We all know that churches can build and focus on the spread of the gospel. But since the church is people, the physical things like buildings can also be a huge distraction. They certainly are not required by the Scripture.

As I pondered how to share his reflections, I got another email from him. He shared that while one meeting with the top church leaders was delayed, they do have a vision for the unreached. He has been invited to share with many churches and gatherings in June within various church groups. They want to send ten missionaries a year from these churches — 50 in the next five years.

I have gained great encouragement from this brother and his wife. Would you pray with me for them and the others like them who come from very humble means but are wholly committed to the task and uniquely gifted to contribute in ways that someone like me
never could.

Perhaps you have a similar story? If so, post your story in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.


[1] I have his permission, but I have removed names and places for security and to give no offense. Remember, English is not his first language.

 

Comments

Greet you in the matchless name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have started Gypsy Christian hostel (50 children’s)for poor and backward children in Rajasthan North India. Through this children we are approaching so many remoted areas in mountain areas. We are also travelling around Rajasthan to proclaim God’s word. Our Vision is to establish churches in every village.for that we need your support though prayers. So that we all May establish Gods kingdom together.

Our Aims
1. Establishing
Mission Schools
2. Small clinic s in remoted areas
3. Churches
4. Making evagelists
5. LeaderShip training centers
6. Income generating skills for poor people
7. prayer centers, cell groups.

IN God’s service
Rajpaul(pioneer cross cultural missionary North India)
Rajasthan
North India
Mobile number:- +919491800348.
Email address .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

“It is just killing the gospel in a very subtle way.”
This has been true for 500 years and everywhere the pulpit and pew oriented version of faith has been exported. This corrupt form of faith is pushed on the poorest of people who are on the verge of starvation. We have systematized ways of proclaiming “this facility is for the glory of God” when functionally it is the exact opposite - for the glory of man.

The main reason facility focused ministry is the foundation of the current system of gospel distribution is because the household of faith is addicted to professionalized leadership. You must have a building big enough to get enough people in to pay one man to lecture the Bible and call it “preaching and teaching”. In my journey of “testing everything, holding on to that which is good”, I have discovered the 3 texts used to justify professionalized leadership are severely twisted, and the 8 texts that specifically teach the opposite of this are rejected because of the 3 twisted ones. Every Bible expert in the country holds to this perpetual dependency form of leadership. Why? They all want a pay check. They all have a vested interest, and conflict of interest in recognizing the truth. This may sound harsh but it’s true. No one will open their Bibles to look or interact with the correction because their hearts are so far removed from God’s heart. Their only option is to judge the messenger as harsh or some other deprecating label that excuses their heart from dealing with the truth.

Satan has set a self-ingratiating trap and God’s people have been suckers for the trap. God’s people are ignorant of his schemes.

“Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:” Is 29:13

author

Thanks Tim, I appreciate you sharing your thoughts. Sometimes, the issues are so large, that it is a bit overwhelming!

I marvel at the blindness by Bible experts to very clear scripture.
I marvel at their resistance and accusative responses when I show them systemic corruption to the Word.
I marvel at the extent to which the corruption shuts down the spread of the gospel.
I marvel at those who talk so much about reaching the unreached yet think there is no correction needed to our current practice of church life to accomplish the task.
I marvel at all the talk about new ideas, new approaches to reach new generations, outside the box strategizing, yet all the outcomes are merely talking differently about the same old practices.
I marvel at the experts who see corruption in the church in so many different areas, yet they will not examine the system as a whole for the root corruptions that produce the corruptions they can see as dangerous. Their solutions will be merely to tweak the externals.
I marvel that this brother in Africa sees the problem and is willing to risk complete rejection by other brothers in Christ to call for repentance.

author

Tim,
Have you read any of Jim Harries stuff on vulnerable mission? He has served Africa for a long time and sought to grapple with some of these issues.

I had not but I just did. I agree with his assessment. My father learned to Filipino dialects so that the believers said he could speak it better than they could. He also taught them how to use the original Greek for their Bible study. When he spoke the other missionaries were left out of the joking and passionate expression of faith because their investment in heart connection was on the surface. The Philippines is one of the most English oriented countries in Asia so this is used as an excuse for less diligence in what is required to connect at the heart. After 20 years of reproductive ministry, fully entrusting everything to the Filipino saints, my parents were not invited by the field counsel to return for a 5th term. They had to go to Australia instead.

The apostle Paul spoke specifically to this. “19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.” 1 Cor. 9:19. In this context he is speaking specifically of his being a businessman and rejecting the taking of money from those he is serving and being a “spiritual authority” over the people. The American form of church outright rejects Paul’s passionate teaching on this self sustaining, self lowering principle of leadership. The American church MUST consume 84% of their “giving” for professionalized version of leadership, complete with elevated status, titles, offices for reserving ministry, and dominating expression of truth in strict one way communication by just one man for the whole time. We export this form as if it’s godly. It’s flesh oriented and an outright rejection of clear scripture.

I didn’t read everything Jim Harries writes but I did not see any of his concern for these elements that are not sustainable spiritually in any culture no matter how much money they have or how many expert degrees their “leaders” have behind their name. I’m not promoting ignorance. I am promoting the rejection of pedestalizing a few, silencing the rest into spectating. This leaves the experts trafficking in the ignorance of the rest. They call it “teaching and preaching” but it does not accomplish the reproductive ends of true teaching. So it’s entertainment in it’s final result, even though the words are accurate. They know it, but will not repent of their own corruption. They justify it all with twisted scripture. God has helped me to recognize and these “exegetical” twists and call them for what they are. EVERY Bible expert does it because they want a pay check and elevated status from their “ministry”. It’s evil. God can use it, but not to the extent they imagine. God must use other things to accomplish the rest.

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