This is an interesting article about Christian Missions in Africa but from an Atheist perspective. It is a great read sent to me by missionary friends of ours. Here are a few excerpts with my thoughts but I recommend reading it in its entirety.

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

 Published in The Times December 27, 2008 – Written By Matthew Parris

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.

Why is it different from other NGOs? Christianity offers something that other NGOs don’t have, Christ. Without Christ everything else is meaningless. Christ “brings a spiritual transformation.” What do Christian organizations bring that non-Christian ones lack? It is written that “man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD” (Deuteronomy 8.3). The Word became flesh.

Whenever we entered a territory worked by missionaries, we had to acknowledge that something changed in the faces of the people we passed and spoke to: something in their eyes, the way they approached you direct, man-to-man, without looking down or away. They had not become more deferential towards strangers – in some ways less so – but more open.

How does a child of God see oneself and what is their role in this world? We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5.20. It is through Christians that God spreads his Word. If we are closed off and “deferential towards strangers” we cannot allow God to make his appeal through us. We must be reaching out.

Christianity, post-Reformation and post-Luther, with its teaching of a direct, personal, two-way link between the individual and God, unmediated by the collective, and unsubordinate to any other human being, smashes straight through the philosphical/spiritual framework I’ve just described. It offers something to hold on to to those anxious to cast off a crushing tribal groupthink. That is why and how it liberates.

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.

Christianity brings something special to Africa as well as the rest of the world. It breaks the need to fight for survival. As Christ says “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also… “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” Christ is claiming his authority over the Jewish scripture as if he was the author, because he is the author. When is the cycle of “malign fusion of Nike, the witch doctor, the mobile phone and the machete” broken?

When Christ enters in! 

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