When I was in Ethiopia a few years ago I confronted the native Ethiopian leader of a powerful evangelical movement, Alayu Kebede, about evangelism. I asked him why we would think it's okay to spread Evangelical Christian culture into African nations, who have their own ancient culture, through evangelism.
Why bring a new religion into a place when it will potentially cause violence and may destroy the original culture?
He said, “We believe in the Bible, and it says the only religion that will save people is believing in Christ. We have seen it bringing new life to lives that were miserable, lives that were addicted to drugs. The gospel is bringing peace and stability for community. I can tell you, when you see the world we have many crimes, wars and those religions that have been around for millions of years are committing crimes. There is so much trouble, so much terrorism. We are taking the gospel to these villages and countries and it brings peace and stability. Other religions, we have seen, have not brought any peace. The gospel is bringing peace. We have actually seen in our country where people who were killing each other, when we brought the gospel they became peaceful. They have become good people who are helping others. It is bringing peace and stability.
Do you have any specific stories of this?
Yes. In the Geldu area the people were killing each other and the government was not able to handle the situation. We brought the gospel to this area and now this area is a peaceful and stable people and community.
What are the specific ways in which it is more stable? Interpersonal dynamic? Infrastructure?
We have brought water, electricity, and medical treatment. And we have seen the community love one another, interpersonally. There is more development now. When people are killing each other, there is no stability. When we bring the gospel the people can interact together. They can work together. They can think about developing their community together.
What about Christianity makes this happen?
Christianity makes things happen because it is a life that thinks about people. Not about being self-centered. Christianity is about others. Living for others. Working for others. Sacrificing yourself for others.
Then I asked one of the American missionaries about it too. Linda told me her perspectives. Here’s an excerpt.
“Also, something I noticed very quickly was that women were doing all the labor; they were treated as low citizens. If you go out here you will see women carrying piles of sticks on their backs weighing 50-75 pounds. And they were the ones lugging the water and the wood to build the homes. They were caring for the children and doing all the cooking. And the men were just sitting around town, and in many cases getting drunk.” …
“I noticed the children getting disrespected too and this upset me. I asked the Ethiopians who are the most desperate? Who is considered the lowest rung? And they told me it was probably the widows. And then also the orphans, because there are just so many.”…
“So, we do training with them. We teach them hygiene, cleanliness, women’s hygiene. This is our belief; you can’t give money without education, because money will go away, but education is a gift that never goes away. This next trip we have already sponsored another 6 women.”
She continued, “When John the Baptist sent his guys over to see if Jesus is the Messiah Jesus responds, “Go tell John what you see.”
"It’s just this whole idea that Jesus did things in word and deed. So we’ve decided that there needs to be a balance of those two: church planting balanced with helping in practical ways, which we call redemptive lift… Most of these people live on $1.25 per day, which puts them in extreme poverty. So we develop the indigenous leader by teaching him to make the town better… and we have trained them how to bring in things like sanitation, marriage and family instruction like how to honor your wife, and how to care for your children.”
So that helped me see how spreading the gospel can be good.
For more of these stories check out my book: Signs of a New Kingdom
Raw Spoon, 5-13-17
Matthew 16:15, 1 Peter 3:15, 2 Timothy 2:15, 2 Timothy 4:4, Mark 16;15, 1 Corinthians 1:17, Romans 1:16, Matthew 28: 19-20, Matthew 9:37-38, Matthew 10:7-14