Not Return Void (Africa Journal #4)
Logistics intimidate me. Had I been present at the sermon that preceded the feeding of the five thousand I wouldn’t have heard a word. My mind would have been rather occupied with that one burning question — How are we ever going to feed all these people? There I would have been failing to hear the words of life from the Bread of Life all because I was worried about where bread would come from.
Because this is such a great weakness of mine, it is, in turn, cause for great appreciation for those gifted in the area of logistics. On my recent trip to visit several Rafiki Villages in four African countries, I was privileged to visit with John Chunn, the chairman of the board at the Rafiki Foundation. He oversees operations, not in four, but in ten African countries and the US. I was privileged to visit with Chris Moyer as well. He is the chief architect for all the villages and is responsible for planning, building and protecting hundreds of buildings. Some on our trip are recording sundry events for present and future fundraising needs. Others with us focused their attentions on the difficult task of gathering handcrafts put together by local widows for sale at the Rafiki Exchange in Florida. All of this would make my head spin, even were I not dealing with a foreign culture and jet lag.
All of these good labors, however, exist for something I understand — that the orphans, the widows, the nationals, the overseas missionaries, the staff, and even outsiders like me, might know God through the teaching of His Word. Buildings will crumble. Funds may dry up. Plates may stop spinning and come crashing to the ground. But the Word of God will have its effect. Nothing encouraged me more during my time with these good folks than to see the total Bible saturation. The Bible is read. The Bible is taught. The Bible is memorized. The Bible is sung. And that — not our strategies, not our tactics, not our wisdom, not our zeal, not our insight — is what will change everything.
Too often our understanding of missions suffers from the same weaknesses as our understanding of education. With the latter we think if we can accept the basic premise, model and structure of the government’s schools but remove evolution and sundry other forms of leftist propaganda, we will do well. With the former we think if we do the work of the Peace Corps and add a Bible verse or two, we will do well. Of course we are to clothe them and feed them. We don’t clothe them and feed them, however, because this is what will change them. We don’t care for their needs because western niceties will create western comforts. We don’t build schools because education is the answer. We are not seeking to make them modern, but faithful. We do these things that we might give those in need the words of life, the Word of God. When God speaks, a few loaves and fishes become abundance. When God speaks, light comes from darkness. When God speaks, life comes from death. When God speaks, He calls us to draw near, to hearken to His Word, and He promises to fill us.