November 5, 2008

Ask Anything Wednesday: How Will We Prioritize

Welcome to Ask Anything Wednesday. Normally this series is once a month, but I received two great questions last week, so I'm answering the second today. Nevertheless, please keep the questions rolling in! Just submit your question--on anything!--in the comments section below and I'll consider responding to it in this monthly feature.

"With the need to counter the cults in Africa so great, how are you going to prioritize?"

You’ve asked an important question—one that I’ve given much consideration. At the same time, I’ve only visited Uganda twice and would not presume to yet have enough knowledge or exposure to form a specific plan of prioritization.

With this in mind, for at least the first six months after arriving in Uganda, my focus will be on learning more about the overall religious situation through rigorous, in-depth research. During this process, I’ll seek to discern a specific strategy by asking several crucial questions:

• Which groups and false teachings do East African Christians feel are causing the greatest harm at this time? For example, are they most concerned about syncretism, the prosperity gospel, certain Western cults, and/or specific local groups (like the “abaikiriza”)?

• Which groups and false teachings objectively need the greatest emphasis and response, given the severity of their theological error and their success in proselytizing? Some movements, like the Branhamites and New Apostolic Church, are among the largest and most active, yet (strangely) seem to be among the most neglected.

• Which groups and false teachings have already been addressed by local apologists, and to what extent? In this blog I’ve described a handful of locally produced resources that are still in circulation; other Ugandan Christians are attempting to defend the faith as best they can. We want to complement—not compete with—them and, whenever possible, we will work alongside them.

• Which groups and false teachings already have Christian responses ready for use in early inoculation and training? Through materials we’ve developed and others available through our ministry partnerships, we can immediately place much-needed resources in the hands of Christian leaders and other leaders. (In fact, a shipment of materials for pastors in southeastern Uganda is leaving this week!) For example, we’re providing IRR tracts on Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormonism, a CFAR manual on practical discernment for pastors, a CD-ROM on relevant cultural issues from Stand to Reason, and pamphlets from Rose Publishing.

The needs before us are evident, and the opportunities to address them are numerous. Above all, as we develop a specific strategy we’ll need much prayer—both during the initial phases of research and outreach and throughout our years of establishing a regional apologetics ministry. Please share in the privilege of advancing biblical discernment among our African brothers and sisters through your daily intercession!