Last Sunday I was preaching at Chisanga church, not too far from Mpongwe, although the roads always make it feel further. After the service we had a bit of a Q &A about church life and various theological issues etc. I didn’t understand too much and so Adamson, the Director mostly answered the questions. One really made me think though: “What do we do if we suspect an elder is involved with witchcraft?” I knew traditional African religion is a big issue and a lot of the Pastors talk about the problems with witchcraft, but it took me a bit by surprise as I had assumed that would probably discount someone from church leadership. But in this district of ten churches, with only one trained Pastor, I can see now that the problem is bigger than I’d thought.
I don’t quite know the link, but it also got me thinking about some of the other issues these churches face and the development needed in these villages if they’re going to pull themselves out of poverty. An NGO could build a school or a well, but if the gospel radically transformed the believers in that district, I have every hope that the social structure is also restored and many schools and wells are built. The scope of redemption is not just spiritual. I have high hopes for the local church here.
This Sunday I go to another church, in which the grip of traditional African religion is very evident. Only the gospel can truly make a difference. Missionaries have known this for years, but we daren’t come arrogantly bearing the solution to all the problems until we acknowledge the deficiencies in our own worldview – all the ways in which the western mindset has become confused with the gospel. Perhaps then we can allow the gospel to change us as well as others.