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Reformed. Christianity. Evangelism. Modern Culture.
This is an excerpt from a Table Talk (TT) magazine interview with an African pastor (Conrad Mbewe) of Kabwata Baptist Church in Zambia…
TT: What are two important lessons that Western Christians can learn from the African church?
CM: Western civilization has lost a lot of its interpersonal virtues. It has become overly individualized—if you see what I mean. Issues like hospitality, respect for authority and the elderly, being more people-conscious than time-conscious, and so on are largely lost. This has affected not only the society generally but Christians as well.
Western Christians have filled their lives with too many things (toys?) that have robbed them of eternal perspectives. Electronic gadgets, holidays, sports, recreation, and so on have almost become idols. Even church must be about having fun.
If you are wondering about what to pray for when it comes to the church in Africa, do pray for faithfulness to the message of the gospel. Conrad Mbewe a local pastor in Africa in his recent newsletter from Kabwata (Zambia) laments:
[This post was first run here in 2012] I came across a pamphlet today. It was given to me at the traffic lights while waiting for the lights to go green. It read as follows:My name is Stella Mwanza from Sinda (Eastern Province). I used to read in newspapers and listen to the radio about how different people were testifying concerning Pastor Elijah and I was so impressed with his healing powers that I decided to try him as I had a lot of problems.First, my husband was divorcing me as he accused me of having an affair with another man and even doubted our lastborn child. Pastor Elijah prayed for me and this calmed down my husband and now we’re happily married with our kids.I introduced a friend of mine to the same pastor who had an unstable marriage because her husband was sexually weak and had a tiny manhood. She was going out with other men to satisfy her sexual desire though she loved her husband. Pastor Elijah invited the couple to his place and prayed for both of them. Now they are back in a good relationship. Thanks to Pastor Elijah. …Read More!
Conrad Mbewe from Zambia reports men are missing in many places not only in the work place but also at homes and even church. No, not that he can’t see any of the male species in all these spheres but what is irking is that so few of them seem to be rising to the calling that God has given to them as men in society. Furthermore on the missing men….
Look at the family, for instance. Many men are as good as absent. They seem to be content to being served rather than playing their God-given roles of presider, protector, and provider. There is little effort at leading family devotions, home maintenance, and discipling the kids.
In society where men were once dominant, the trend is also fast reversing. Apart from the push from the West to kick women out of the kitchen and put them at par with men in the business world, men seem to see the workplace as a place where you only go to make money. …Read More!
Looking at the trends in the West through the eyes of Christians in Africa it appears as though, says Conrad Mbewe, the Western Emperor is marauding with no clothes on. Yet no one dares say….
Even if you tried to bury your head in the sand, you can still hear the tremor in the ground of the Western carnival that is coming. The music and dancing are getting louder and louder. It is one of human-rights-with-no-holds-barred. It is coming with all the revelry that you would expect. It cannot be ignored.
However, one problem with this procession is that it long left its original route. There are no principles to guide it, except the whims of those who are hiding behind its masks and leading it in whichever direction they please. Even those of us who are in Africa are totally alarmed by its lack of principles.
The other problem is that the issues being fought for under the guise of human rights are so patently wrong that an African like me stands aghast as I look at the current campaigns, debates, and legal reforms in the West. I am asking myself, “But can’t everyone see that the emperor walking in front has no clothes on?”
A century or two ago, Christian missionaries came from the West and taught us the Bible. As a result of this, we did away with polygamy, cannibalism, tribal feuds, etc. We were taught to put on more clothing to hide our nakedness. We learned to desist from tattooing our bodies, which were now temples of the living God. We even stopped sacrificing our babies to ancestral spirits.
The perplexing turn-around
All this made sense. It was logical, once you realised that we were all created by God and in his image. But, alas, the very principles that we were taught from Scripture are now being abandoned wholesale by the countries where our missionaries came from! Sadly, the basic questions are not being answered in this turn-around. As a result, we are bewildered. A few examples should suffice:
Abortion: Who in the West does not know that life begins at conception? It must be obvious to all, therefore, that abortion is murder. Surely, we all know that we are killing fellow human beings in their mothers’ wombs in the millions every year. How come, then, that this reckless killing of babies is not being stopped?
Indecency: It is shocking to see what some adults wear when they leave their homes in the West. They leave very little to the imagination! As if that is not enough, billboard adverts all over the cities are full of naked women, or men and women poised in sexually suggestive positions. As for television and movies, indecency seems to be the stock of the trade. Add to this, public erotic kissing at stations and airports, etc. When visiting the West, I often feel like shouting, “Hey, guys, am I the only one around here who knows that all this is indecent?”
“Living together”: It is commonplace now in the West to have a man and a woman living together who are not married. Their parents know it and they just shrug their shoulders. How? I mean, how? How can a man start living with your daughter without getting your permission, as if she just fell from the sky? Surely it must be wrong. But again, are we the only ones who are seeing the obvious?
Not every body goes to church to worship God or to have fellowship with believers. Some have heard of what they can get from some churches especially motivational pep talk, self esteem rhetoric and religious junk. Conrad Mbewe a local pastor in Kabwata, Zambia knows this only too well because sadly it’s happening more often in his backyard….
Last Sunday, a young man came to see me after our church service. He is the kind of guy who shows up at church once in a while and then disappears for a season. My guess is that he goes around churches sampling sermons and looking for answers. On this visit, he asked that I help him to overcome a failure in his life, and it was a failure to progress. He said that his greatest problem is that he does not believe in himself. Could I help him believe in himself so that he could become successful?
I asked him whether he was a Christian. His answer was, “Do I really need to be a Christian in order to be successful? Are you telling me that all those successful people out there are Christians?
An interesting look at the state of Christianity (in Africa). D.A Carson talks to Conrad Mbewe to find out if Christianity is still a mile wide but an inch deep in Africa…