Worldview is highly important to God. At EM Africa, we strive to have a Kingdom worldview over anything else as we know it's our differences that make us unique to Him.
When speaking about Worldview, it is important to define what it is. Worldview is a set of presuppositions (or assumptions) which we hold (consciously or unconsciously) about the basic make-up of the world (Definition by James Sire/Charles Dunahoo).
While we know the Western culture and Africa have different worldview, there is a bridge to the two: a Biblical Worldview. But first, we need to take a look at what Africa faces, and then talk about the principles it takes to bridge the gap between North America and Africa.
For too long it seems that the African Church has missed an understanding of its role to uplift the rest of society. It has focused on proclamation of the Word and Sunday worship, but has largely failed to demonstrate the intentions and love of God outside church walls - throughout the week, in every area of society, by every church member. Praising God when gathered as a congregation on Sunday and serving Him in the world every other day of the week needs to be the driving mission of the African Church. Reformation that leads to transformation will happen in Africa as the African Church comes to an understanding of Biblical reality, a heart of servant-hood and stewardship and a desire to crown Jesus Christ as Lord in every aspect of life.
Facing the Giants
Just as David faced a giant called Goliath many years ago, as described in 1 Samuel 17, so is Africa today also faced with giants. These giants are not people, but are the consequences of people’s behaviour. Behaviour not based on obedience to God and His word will result in all kinds of spiritual and social problems and ills. Africa faces a number of these giants and/or social ills due to the loss of a moral and ethical foundation, e.g. HIV/AIDS; Health; Crime, Corruption and Violence; Poverty, Underdevelopment and Unemployment; Racism, Tribalism and Sexism and Family and Marriage in Crisis. 2 These giants threaten most African countries, cities, communities and churches.
The mind of the Church in Africa is in essence divided into two worlds; a spiritual world which is sacred and a physical world which is secular. This dualistic mindset resulted in a dualistic lifestyle. The church has been in Africa for nearly two thousand years and has experienced tremendous growth over the last two centuries. This growth holds incredible potential for the healing of Africa. Yet, all too often, the church is disengaged from the crying needs of the community—focusing exclusively on spiritual concerns. Despite Christians being a majority in many African communities, poverty, disease, conflict and environmental degradation abound. The church is often seen as irrelevant by non-believing community members.
Africa is blessed
Africa has been mightily blessed. Her natural resources make her the wealthiest continent on earth in terms of natural resources. She possesses a rich heritage as the womb of the Judeo-Christian faith. Her people made in the image of God, hold enormous potential as human capital.
Africa is broken
Despite these observations despite Africa’s potential and blessings, rich natural endowments and unimaginable abundance, it is a continent ravaged by poverty, disease, corruption and conflict. This is the heart-breaking paradox that haunts the psyche of all Africans. For years international aid and development agencies have tried to deal with these problems—with limited success. A predominantly animistic worldview holds sway over the minds of many Africans—a worldview that sees man as a victim of nature, of other people, or of fate. This mindset shifts responsibility for Africa’s social ills to the spirit realm, leaving individuals little hope or motivation for working towards a better future.
Bridging the Gap
With all of the above mentioned in mind, it’s clear that bridges are needed. With the barriers and ‘divides’ somewhat defined, what should the bridges look like? We know bridges are needed and we know they are needed in Africa as they are in North America. They are needed in affluent communities and in poor communities. They are needed among churches and between continents. What then should the elements of such a bridge be? The following elements commonly valued by all parties seem to be essential in bridging barriers.
Seek the Kingdom of God
The Church needs a rediscovery of the absolute of the Kingdom of God. A Kingdom focus will bring meaning and purpose back to life, point it to new goals and provide the power to move on and to fulfill these goals. The Kingdom gives us our first priority and our final goal. It gives us a grid through which we can view all the realities of life. We are to seek the Kingdom, think the Kingdom, dream the Kingdom and do Kingdom.
Africa is not a dark continent and it’s not cursed. It’s a continent of light and it’s blessed; blessed above every continent on earth in terms of natural resource potential. God blessed Africa with people made in His own Image. He blessed Africa with an incredible heritage of the Gospel, laid the foundation stone for transformation of the continent in the Church and above everything else God blessed Africa with a promise; a promise of blessing through Abraham. If this is true; if Africa is blessed through God’s promise to Abraham and fulfilled in Christ, what then will Africa look when the blessing has fully come?
Bridge: Experience Mission Africa
Believing that brokenness in all areas of life presents a unique challenge to the Church both in Africa and in North America, Experience Mission Africa was birthed to build an alliance of North American and African Christians committed to fostering a grass-roots, African-based mission experience and ministry to African communities, families and individuals affected and infected by the wide range of spiritual, physical and social ills.
Experience Mission Africa desires to increase responsible collaboration between international organisations and churches. Experience Mission Africa strongly supports increasing responsible collaboration efforts between all of God’s children. Responsible collaboration transform participants and also transform communities.
North America builds from a predominantly secular, humanistic worldview; a worldview that sees the physical and the material as ultimately real. It’s a worldview that sees man as a consumer and his/her value determined by the price of consumption. Man is seen more as individual in nature than communal; more task driven and problem solving than relational.
In the same way as with a western, secular, materialistic worldview, African Traditional Religion (in same cases still referred to as animism) asks the same basic questions about ultimate reality, man, nature and where history is going and comes up with different answers.
Ultimate reality for most Africans is spiritual; something that’s unseen, untouchable, mostly evil and more real than life itself. In Africa, man’s value lies more within the group than individually. Ubuntu says, “I exist because we are”. Africa is communal and therefore very relational.
Experience Mission Africa believes that God’s primary agency for accomplishing His mission is the local expression of the Church.
Experience Mission Africa has a strong desire to further develop a network of responsible partnerships with those who are committed to being a part of an initiative to complement biblically aligned community development. When community development and church development join hands from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean in equal partnerships and communities are being transformed as a result of it, people from all over the world will be filled with wonder and amazement (Acts 3: 8-10) and the knowledge of God’s glory will cover Africa as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14).