An Atheist, Africa, and Missions vs. NGOs


In the TimesOnline, a European Online Magazine, prominent Atheist Matthew Parris wrote the following thought provoking article a few days ago. Please read the article and leave your thoughts. Hopefully this will spurn some meaningful conversation. Below are my favorite excerpts.  Here’s the article.

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As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God

Missionaries, not aid money, are the solution to Africa’s biggest problem – the crushing passivity of the people’s mindset

. . . [T]ravelling in Malawi refreshed another belief, too: one I’ve been trying to banish all my life, but an observation I’ve been unable to avoid since my African childhood. It confounds my ideological beliefs, stubbornly refuses to fit my world view, and has embarrassed my growing belief that there is no God.

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.

I used to avoid this truth by applauding – as you can – the practical work of mission churches in Africa . . . 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. . . .

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. Removing Christian evangelism from the African equation may leave the continent at the mercy of a malign fusion of Nike, the witch doctor, the mobile phone and the machete.

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Enjoy, and let the debates begin!

[By the way, for all those on facebook that are friends with Tim Hoiland, I had a draft of this post done a few days before he posted his, so don’t think I just copy other people’s posts!  But still, read his blog]

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One thought on “An Atheist, Africa, and Missions vs. NGOs

  1. Pingback: Debates with Atheists (And Good News for Them) | the long way home

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