Witnesses feel compelled to tell others

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After talking about it for some time, I finally wrapped my article on Texas Baptist ministry ties to Africa, which can be seen in its entirety here. At least five BGCT-affiliated institutions are serving in Africa, as well as numerous churches and several associations. They’re working with orphans, digging wells, building schools and even looking at ways of providing renewable energy to people who spend a significant amount of their income on kerosene for lamps.

A slideshow of photos of Texas Baptists serving in Africa can be seen here or by clicking on the Flickr stream on the right side of this blog. To browse through the selection, click here.

As I talk to more and more with people who are serving in Africa, I find it interesting how quickly the conversation begins to include terms of faith. They use words that are typically associated with evangelism — witness, testify, compelled to tell others, etc. Many times it reminds me of Jesus’ words to John’s disciples in Luke “Go back, and tell John what you have seen and heard: Blind people see again, lame people are walking, those with skin diseases are made clean, deaf people hear again, dead people are brought back to life, and poor people hear the Good News.” When people see events or the effects of events that touch them at the core of who they are, they feel compelled to share that news. That’s why we share the gospel, and that’s why these people talk about Africa.

Here’s an excerpt from the story, a quote from Laura Seay, a doctoral student at UT, that hopefully illustrates what I mean.

“I don’t believe that God calls God’s people to be comfortable,” she said. “I have been in some danger in the Congo, and I have seen horrible, unspeakable atrocities, suffering, and poverty that’s 10 times worse than what you witness elsewhere in the developing world. It’s impossible to come away from encounters with 6-year-old victims of gang rape or mothers who are starving to death and not be affected by the situation. The pain of what people endure is unbearable sometimes, and I’m only a witness to it. The temptation is always to turn away, say a prayer of thanksgiving that it’s not me, and move on with life.

“But it wouldn’t be right to turn away from these realities. All those scriptures about taking up our crosses and going out of our way to help those in need point to the idea that the life of a disciple of Christ isn’t always going to be easy. The paradox, of course, is that by taking up these burdens, we’re set free to love without condition and to sacrifice everything, maybe even our own comfort and safety – and maybe our lives – to follow God’s call.”

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