On our trip to Atlanta last month, several friends encouraged me to continue writing ‘Out of Africa’ messages, which I had begun 10 years ago, after a trip to the USA in 2004. I discontinued them a few years later when a dear friend, in the USA, wrote and told me to be careful about offending Americans. I have come to realize that no matter what one writes or says, one is likely to offend someone.
We tend to be easily offended when someone from outside our own country, says things about our culture which we don’t like. There is however a danger that we can become so immersed in our culture that we don’t question things which outsiders find unusual. I want to assure you that my intention, in these messages, is not to offend, but rather to challenge and encourage each one of us, myself included, to be continually assessing whether our lifestyle and faith-walk are in step with what Jesus taught. If we don’t do this regularly, we are in danger of becoming immersed (‘conformed’) to our local culture and the world’s societal values (Romans 12: 1 – 2). Whether I offend or inspire you, I ask you not to write me off, but to write back and share your thoughts. Different views should lead us to dialogue, not conflict. My prayer is that you will engage in dialogue with me that will lead us both to a deeper faith, as we endeavor to ‘walk in the steps of the Master’.
Like my trip to the USA in 2004, my recent visit, in February, ‘blew me away’. The friendship and hospitality we received everywhere was mind-blowing. The warmth and love Norma and I experienced from all our friends was overwhelming and also humbling for us. A friend from Africa who first visited the USA, several years ago, made this remark: ‘If heaven is anything like this, we are in for a wonderful time’! I would certainly echo that. Words cannot begin to express the gratitude for the depth of love that was poured out on us everywhere we went. You touched our hearts in such a very special way and we came back to Africa, truly warmed from the ‘fire’ of agape love you showered on us. THANK YOU, THANK YOU. We have been blessed, and are continually blessed, in the knowledge that you care, and more importantly, that you pray for us. Those of you who have been ‘on the frontline’ will know that it is very lonely at times.
Bearing in mind that most people nowadays are so busy that they don’t seem to have time to read an email longer than a few lines, I want to end this message by posing two questions:
What do you think would happen in the USA if all Christian activity was banned?
If this were to happen, what aspect of Christianity would you miss the most?
Look beyond the protests etc that may occur and imagine that outlawing Christian activity has already happened and is being enforced in your country.
I hope that these questions will open up some interesting discussion.