but i still believe
The Onion mocks American missionaries who come to Africa in a pretty funny parody, but it's interesting that I was having a conversation yesterday with a missionary from Seattle who works with Heal Africa, mainly by helping them to raise support back in the states. She grew up as a missionary kid in Congo and knows the region and people very well. We were talking about the church and Congo's needs and she just turned to me and said, "People don't understand that the way of doing missions in Africa has to change, and really already has changed, just like everything else." She went on to point out that it's hard for American churches to realize just how Christianized Africa is -- and that missionaries working here are usually working with the children and grandchildren of those who converted forty years ago.
One big struggle, she pointed out, is getting Americans to understand that they don't have to be on the ground in Africa in order for God to be working in people's lives. What I see at Heal Africa, and in so many other places, is just that: there are so many committed Congolese Christian doctors and pastors and teachers and others who can do what needs to be done here. What they need is support - of money and of stuff - to show people God's love by providing for their most basic needs. So while the Onion is of course mocking, it's interesting to me that a missionary made almost the same point yesterday.