NEWS MID MAY 2017
One problem I am these days facing, is that I am struggling to think how I could improve on African people’s Bible teaching and preaching. The idea of a lot of mission, is that we in the West know better, so come and teach Africans the ‘better’ ways. But then, what to do if the locals know better than the missionary? I guess this phenomenon arises especially because I these days, really by default, take African Bible teaching as my model, something in which I have little choice, as it is African teaching that I am constantly hearing. It is also because I don’t operate in English, which removes what would otherwise be my ‘superior’ language knowledge. Plus, I realise that many of the 'superior' things we have to say, don't make sense around here anyway.
Why is the above a problem? Well, it isn’t a problem to me, as I am very happy to find local people doing so well. It is a kind of ‘problem’ to the missionary venture as a whole, as it raises the question of what the role of Westerners should be. My not being ‘better’ than others doesn’t mean that I have nothing to share, including theological teaching and life-style witness. It just means I don’t have a ‘pedestal’. The playing field is level.
“It is amazing to think that white people brought the Gospel to us,” a pastor friend shared with me recently. Yes, it is amazing. White people’s culture is so different from that here. They don’t know local languages, unless they work very hard to learn them. These days, if a ‘white person’ comes they are out-classed by locals in almost every respect (unless they use English, or come with money). The way the Gospel has taken such a wide hold over Africa is amazing. The missionary endeavour in Africa of the last two hundred years or so was, it seems to me, the most incredible achievement of the era.