November 10, 2008

Tabletalk Magazine on Africa

For many years, I have appreciated Tabletalk magazine. A monthly topical study and Bible devotional combined into one, Tabletalk is published by Ligonier Ministries and covers everything from theological doctrine to church history. Each month readers are treated to edifying material which supports and builds their relationship to Christ.

Tabletalk MagazineNovember's issue is no exception--it is devoted to missions and the global body of Christ. Dr. Peter Hammond, the missionary director of Frontline Fellowship, provides an insightful article on the church in Africa. I was both challenged and encouraged by what he wrote.

Hammond begins by recounting the tremendous amount of persecution that followers of Christ face throughout much of Africa. From Nigeria and Sudan to Angola and Mozambique, believers suffer for their faith. Nevertheless, there is a growing revival amidst the persecution. Thousands of Muslims are regularly reported to convert to Christianity. Our faith is expanding into difficult and oppressive regions including Marxist territories. Praise God for His grace in Africa!

At the same time, Hammond points out a looming danger in the midst of all this growth:
The greatest spiritual needs in Africa at this time are good Bible-based discipleship books, CDs and manuals, and leadership training -- particularly Bible teaching. All of these could be made available for Bible College libraries throughout Africa....

Most pastors in Africa have no formal Bible training. Most pastors have no access to a library, and most own only a few books. Many do not even own a full Bible. Operation World reports that one hundred million Christians in Africa do not even possess a copy of the Bible.

Numerous leaders have gone on record as saying that Africa's greatest need is discipleship. As one pastor put it: "The church has done a good job of evangelizing, but a poor job of discipling. Christianity here is a mile wide and an inch deep!"
I thank God for fellow missionaries who are helping to equip believers in Africa learn God's Word. Nevertheless, I am once again reminded of the great need for biblical discernment and the defense of the faith in Uganda and East Africa. The body of Christ is simply not adequately equipped to counter the errors of cults and other false teachers. Imagine trying to refute a Jehovah's Witness without a full Bible or any other critical information.

The task before us is great, but God's glory shines brightly through meeting these challenges! Lord willing, he will use ACFAR to further build His kingdom early next year.