At church last Sunday, we had a speaker who talked about his mission experiences as a Lutheran in Africa.
Here are some items from what the speaker said.
A. There are more Lutherans in Africa than there are in North America, but there are few missionaries there, and the pastors in Africa lack the theological training to teach their congregations. Often, the one family in the area that has a Bible is asked to conduct the service. Hardly anyone knows Luther’s Small Catechism, which Lutherans in the Western world memorize. The speaker’s organization aims to fill this deficiency and to train the pastors in Africa to teach their congregations. He showed a picture of an African memorizing Luther’s Small Catechism for a seminary class.
B. Name-it-claim-it Christianity is popular in Africa, as African Christians trust in God to bless them materially and to lift them out of poverty. The speaker contrasted this with what he believes is the truth: God is with us in the midst of our suffering. He referred to the youth pastor’s message in our church, but the youth pastor himself acknowledged that God sometimes may make problems go away, but does not always. The speaker also contrasted the preoccupation with wealth with Jesus’s humility, tying his message to the Apostle’s Creed, through which out church is going this summer.
C. Many Africans are hungry for Christianity. The speaker showed a picture of a hunter and remarked that he had memorized an entire set of Johnny Cash Gospel songs. Pentecostalism is prominent in Africa, and that is a good thing because it believes in the blood atonement of Christ, which is important to Lutherans, but Pentecostalism also has prosperity Gospel baggage. Some Africans hold on to their traditional religious beliefs, such as animal sacrifice to make the gods happy and encourage the gods to bless them.
D. It is important to give goods to Africa, but many of them end up on the black market. There are many there with greasy palms. Borders are guarded by heavily-armed guards, who charge the Americans more because Americans are from a wealthy country, and also seek a little extra for themselves.
E. Northern Africa is Muslim-dominated. If the pastor of the organization were to wear his collar in Somalia, he would probably be killed. People come from Somalia to Kenya to learn Christianity. Some are killed when they go back to Somalia, yet new people keep coming from Somalia to Kenya to learn about Christianity. The reason is that they hope to learn the Gospel and to share it with their families.
F. Swahili is prominent in Africa, but English is becoming increasingly popular. The church services that the speaker holds are in English.
G. Lions are like housecats: they sleep most of the time. When they get hungry, the female will go out and attack a wildebeast. Lions won’t bother people if people don’t bother them. Hippos, however, can be quite aggressive towards humans.