Africa

Nigeria next

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Tonight I head off for West Africa — Nigeria and Liberia. I'll spend a week in Nigeria where just two days ago a bomb ripped through a Catholic church killing eight and injuring 100 people.

The militant Islamist group  Boko Haram (which roughly translates as “Western education is sinful”), is most likely responsible.

Author Rupert Shortt asks, What if the roles were reversed?

Imagine the unspeakable fury that would erupt across the Islamic world if a Christian-led government in Khartoum had been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Sudanese Muslims over the past 30 years. Or if Christian gunmen were firebombing mosques in Iraq during Friday prayers. Or if Muslim girls in Indonesia had been abducted and beheaded on their way to school, because of their faith.

Such horrors are barely thinkable, of course. But they have all occurred in reverse, with Christians falling victim to Islamist aggression. Only two days ago, a suicide bomber crashed a jeep laden with explosives into a packed Catholic church in Kaduna, northern Nigeria, killing at least eight people and injuring more than 100. The tragedy bore the imprint of numerous similar attacks by Boko Haram (which roughly translates as “Western education is sinful”), an exceptionally bloodthirsty militant group.

read on . . .

Nigeria next

nigeria_2382356b.jpg

Tonight I head off for West Africa — Nigeria and Liberia. I'll spend a week in Nigeria where just two days ago a bomb ripped through a Catholic church killing eight and injuring 100 people.

The militant Islamist group  Boko Haram (which roughly translates as “Western education is sinful”), is most likely responsible.

Author Rupert Shortt asks, What if the roles were reversed?

Imagine the unspeakable fury that would erupt across the Islamic world if a Christian-led government in Khartoum had been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Sudanese Muslims over the past 30 years. Or if Christian gunmen were firebombing mosques in Iraq during Friday prayers. Or if Muslim girls in Indonesia had been abducted and beheaded on their way to school, because of their faith.

Such horrors are barely thinkable, of course. But they have all occurred in reverse, with Christians falling victim to Islamist aggression. Only two days ago, a suicide bomber crashed a jeep laden with explosives into a packed Catholic church in Kaduna, northern Nigeria, killing at least eight people and injuring more than 100. The tragedy bore the imprint of numerous similar attacks by Boko Haram (which roughly translates as “Western education is sinful”), an exceptionally bloodthirsty militant group.

read on . . .

Good news out of Africa

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This will make your day. It made mine.

In December, Times columnist , Matthew Parris, returned to Africa after 45 years absence. He was there to report on The Times Christmas Appeal which was devoted to providing clean water for rural communities.

Listen to what he says about the impact of Christianity in Africa. Did I mention he was an atheist?

It inspired me, renewing my flagging faith in development charities. But travelling 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.

There's more. . .

Oscar's sons and daughters

Oscarmuriu Mentoring Intern One reason for Oscar Muriu's success in growing leaders for a church planting movement is that he didn't know what he was doing. He was young enough not to know it couldn't be done and smart enough to copy from the best. This what he told me. . . All I do is I copy.

You don't have to be clever to copy. And the best place to copy is Scripture. They call that obedience and it works.

In the internship we just copy. We asked ˜What does Jesus do with his twelve?' We came up with five things.

1. Jesus spends time teaching them. After the parable of the seed he takes the disciples aside and tells them to you is granted the privilege of knowing the meaning of this but the others never get to be told what the meaning of the parable is. And so there are times when you can see Jesus (such as Matt 24 about the kingdom) reflecting theologically with his disciples.

2. He puts them into teams. Jesus doesn't actually do one on one discipleship. He does team discipleship. And these guys are good for one another, they have their arguments, they disagree, they are jostling for position, etc and it's actually healthy for them because it helps them, he deals with these things. It brings to the surface real relationship.

3. He sends them out into ministry. Where he is not present with them and they go out in twos and they do what he did. That's why we send them out on our short-term mission where they go and do what they have learned and they come back and report and we sit down and process together.

4. He demonstrates and calls them to a devotional life. Teaches them how to pray, he himself goes and spends time apart. So they're learning how to do devotionals and how to live devotionally.

5. Jesus builds a succession plan into the system. He tells them "I'm going to be leaving you." And so Oscar tells the interns that their last three months are about succession. When you exit this position as an intern, will your ministry collapse because there's no leadership? Or will your ministry continue because you've prepared well.

Oscar says, We are copying what we are seeing in Scripture. Sometimes you copy well and sometimes you don't copy as well. But love covers over a multitude of sins.

Oscar has a saying, You don't plant churches you plant "sons" and some of Oscar's best "sons" are daughters!

Philip Jenkins on the future of Christianity

Here's a nice sequel to the series on the rise and fall of Atheism in the modern world. Philip Jenkins on the future of Christianity. I read authors who change the way I see the world. So I've ordered it.

A review from Publishers Weekly:

In his highly acclaimed The Next Christendom (2002), Jenkins boldly proclaimed that the center of Christianity was moving slowly out of Europe and North America to Latin America, Africa and Asia. By 2025, he points out, Africa and Latin America will compete over which area is most Christian.

In this compelling sequel, Jenkins probes more deeply the differences between northern and southern Christianity, examining various elements that characterize Christian life, especially belief in the Bible. He argues that the mostly agrarian Christian communities in Latin America, Africa and Asia resemble early Christian communities, enabling southern-hemisphere Christians to read the Bible with fresh eyes.

Such communities read the Bible communally rather than individually, and they read it less critically and more literally than their North American and European counterparts. Explosive debates over the ordination of women and homosexuals and the authority of the Bible in various global denominations—such as the Anglican Communion—illustrate not only the stark theological differences between North and South but also the sheer size of the southern communions influencing the debate.

As part of a proposed trilogy (his book on Europe's coming religious struggle is scheduled for late 2007) Jenkins's prescient religious histories offer brilliant insights on the state of modern Christianity.

The future is not Western or white, it's global and it's African, Asian (including India), and South American. Christianity is on the rise where us white guys are in the minority and guess where the world's population is growing the fastest? We tend to miss it unless you've travelled or read authors like Philip Jenkins.

“The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South” (Philip Jenkins)

Philip Jenkins on the future of Christianity

Here's a nice sequel to the series on the rise and fall of Atheism in the modern world. Philip Jenkins on the future of Christianity. I read authors who change the way I see the world. So I've ordered it.

A review from Publishers Weekly:

In his highly acclaimed The Next Christendom (2002), Jenkins boldly proclaimed that the center of Christianity was moving slowly out of Europe and North America to Latin America, Africa and Asia. By 2025, he points out, Africa and Latin America will compete over which area is most Christian.

In this compelling sequel, Jenkins probes more deeply the differences between northern and southern Christianity, examining various elements that characterize Christian life, especially belief in the Bible. He argues that the mostly agrarian Christian communities in Latin America, Africa and Asia resemble early Christian communities, enabling southern-hemisphere Christians to read the Bible with fresh eyes.

Such communities read the Bible communally rather than individually, and they read it less critically and more literally than their North American and European counterparts. Explosive debates over the ordination of women and homosexuals and the authority of the Bible in various global denominations—such as the Anglican Communion—illustrate not only the stark theological differences between North and South but also the sheer size of the southern communions influencing the debate.

As part of a proposed trilogy (his book on Europe's coming religious struggle is scheduled for late 2007) Jenkins's prescient religious histories offer brilliant insights on the state of modern Christianity.

The future is not Western or white, it's global and it's African, Asian (including India), and South American. Christianity is on the rise where us white guys are in the minority and guess where the world's population is growing the fastest? We tend to miss it unless you've travelled or read authors like Philip Jenkins.

“The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South” (Philip Jenkins)