Another Perspective

I’ve been following an NGO’s Cameroonian blog.  This guy works in the northern part of Cameroon, the English speaking part, I think.  Anyway, he usually has some good posts that give me a bit of insight based on his numerous travels around the globe.

Today he posted something about Campus Crusade for Christ

He doesn’t seem to appreciate those folks who come to Cameroon just to make converts and then leave.  What do you think?  Do you agree or disagree?  Before you crucify him, think about it for a while.  He makes some well thought out arguments.

Alan

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “Another Perspective

  1. I think, essentally my issue is this – if you turn up to a remote part of Cameroon (and remember there is not one single cinema in this country) and you are in a place where people don’t have electricity – never mind the ability to watch a movie and you project the Jesus film on to a large screen…

    …well is that a position to be converting from? This isn’t someone spending time with a Bible and a few chosen words – it is wowing people with technology.

    It’s magic – smoke and mirrors. All in all maybe too close to the conjuring tricks of “black magic”.

    I can understand that as a believer it may be understandable to “save souls” on an “at all costs basis” but is this fair?

    Are you converting through inspiration or awe – perhaps even fear?

    The other point I would make again here, that I have made elsewhere, and I would ask all missionaries to consider it:

    In my experience there are more deeply religious Christian people in Cameroon than I have ever come across in the developed world. So why are there so many missionaries here whose aim is simply to convert?

    Why are these missionaries not working so visibly in developed countries where the level of belief is so much lower?

    What is it about Africa and Africans that attracts so many missionaries?

    These issues can get emotional and debate can be heated – I really appreciate the tone of your post in your link to me. I’ve also, in my post, tried to keep any comment to a minimum and let the facts speak for themselves.

    I welcome comment and traffic from your blog and ask that any further addition to the debate offers the same level of respect. Without resorting to censorship I’ll try and ensure that others do the same on my blog.

    Thanks again for the link.

  2. First, let me present my two mindedness and then which side I fall on.

    I can see this from both sides. I can see how many Christians see their service as converting others. “Heaven is coming and we can’t wait” is mantra issued by so many. Some verses in the Bible offer creed to this very point. And I think Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC) comes at this from a Baptist perspective that intimates in its theology that once you are “saved” or become a Christian, you can never not be a Christian. There is a once saved always saved notion.

    However, the other side is looking to a person’s need before offering them Jesus. Psychologically, it is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need. People need water, food, shelter, etc. before they would want to listen to anything about God.

    Not putting one higher than the other because both can do damage and service, I lean towards to looking at a person’s personal needs before offering them anything religious. And there are plenty of Bible verses to back up this stance as well.

    I am totally with you on keeping it civil. Again, you make some great points that Christians might push off as being too analytical and not spiritual enough. But we need to ponder these things as we do our service.

  3. Nearly forgot – I also wanted to add a point. If religious people come here and dedicate their lives to the sick, poor and uneducated and live simply and humbly in the process, then they have my total respect.

    If as a result of that, people are inspired by their strength and their dedication and want to know more about their religion then, even as a non believer, I can have no complaints at all.

    Show that religious people are genuinely “better people” through their actions and how they live then there is little anyone can argue with.

    Who doesn’t want to be a better person and when we meet inspiring people with strength then we want to know the source of it.

    Inspiring people in such a way might take much longer than a movie show in a remote town but it surely is more honest and ultimately more inspiring and genuine.

  4. (our comments got a bit mixed up so it might be a little hard for others to follow – but in reaction to what you said…)

    Interesting points and despite one of us being a believer and one of us not, I don’t think we are too far apart in our thinking.

    Can I also ask you to look at this from another point of view – imagine you aren’t religious. Can you imagine how sinister this looks to me? How “cultish”. How calculating.

    Also, as a non religious person, Christianity is, largely, no different to me than Islam or any other religion.

    Now imagine if there were Islamic people from overseas going from school to school trying to convert in your own country? Imagine the outrage. An essentially “foreign” religion trying to convert your children.

    Now I am sure you have no doubts that your religion is the “one” but for those of us who view them equally – these type of mass smoke and mirrors conversions don’t look good. And from a wider point of view might actually ultimately damage Christianity.

    • Yeah, again you have a point that can be argued. All religions have a “cultish” aspect to them. That is the nature of them: give you the opportunity (sometimes–i.e. Islam) to believe in something that is not seen and, for the most part, cannot be logically believed–hence the word belief or believers or faith.

      And I think Islam is doing the same and there is outrage from most of the Christian right and some of the Christian left. That’s why missionaries are going to “combat” them in Africa and other places.

  5. So, Christianity is an evangelical religion. The Bible records Jesus final instructions to those he was leaving for them to wait in Jerusalem, receive power from God, and then once that happens to start to go out, first in Jerusalem, then through Judea, and then to take the message of Christ to the outer most parts of the world. Jesus commanded the early church to go out and make disciples.

    This conversation reminds me of a video done by Penn of Penn & Teller http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JHS8adO3hM If you watch the clip, Penn who is an atheist talks about a guy who gave him a Gideon Bible. He remarks about evangelism. And if you watch the video he makes my point for me, but essentially, if I, truly believe in an Eternal Hell and I didn’t do everything within my power to proselytize, what does that make me?

    My concern about what Campus Crusade does with the Jesus Film Project , isn’t smoke and mirrors. One could even argue, that if Christianity is not true, Jesus himself then practiced in using smoke and mirrors to gain a following. I would also say, that in some cases providing water, food, clothing, and medicine can see just as manipulative and “cultish” if not more so.

    Providing people the essentials that they do not have just to get them to trust you enough to proselytize, well could sound like you are trying to buy their faith.

    But back to my biggest issue, is that while the Jesus Film Project makes converts, they don’t exactly make disciples. And that is what the Church is called to do, make disciples of Christ.

    Just my thoughts….

    • Jason–I get your point about using food and other basic needs to garner belief in a system of faith. There are missionaries that are probably doing that. It is unfortunate. My hope is more like Our Man who says that by our actions (love) people–Africans and others–will see and want to know where from where that love arises. A good friend of ours, Jason, says “People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.” Very true, even here in Africa.

      I also applaud your thought about discipleship. Yes, it is disappointing if missionaries go to evangelize and then do nothing with it.

      • I know the point you are trying to make. I guess, I see no difference between showing a movie to people who may have never experienced something like that before, VS. providing health care to someone who may have never received health care before.

        Imagine your little son has Pneumonia and your older son died from it just the year before, and now you have this person giving your son pills and in a few weeks, he is back to full health?

        Is that not just as “Smoke and Mirrors”. I an not coming from this in a nieve stance either. I have been to Zimbabwe, in the bush. I was there with a Christian Faith Based organization that engaged in feeding programmes, education programmes, orphan programmes, and even health programmes. I saw the impact of people seeing the love of Christ, and geniunly making a discision for him.

        I just think, that as because the evangelical nature of Christianity, there will be those who are outside of the faith, will always see our attempts to “spread the gospel” as being hostile, subersive, & manipulative. I am not going to apologize for being an evangelical. I am not going to apologize because people feel led to take the gospel on a movie screen across the “dark continent”, although I wish that the efforts were more than just showing a movie, leading a tribe in the sinners prayer and then off to the next village.

  6. Ellen Gee

    I think as Christians, we must be very careful how we judge the way others evangelize.

    For years, every time I passed a street preacher, I shook my head wondering how in the world anyone thought God worked like that.

    Boy was I humbled when I heard Lon Soloman’s testimony. In 1971, he was just a lost Jewish college student on the campus of UNC when he found Christ through a street preacher . Today, he’s the pastor of one of the largest most influential church in Washington DC.

    You can hear his testimony here – http://www.mcleanbible.org/pages/page.asp?page_id=43388

    From the perspective of eternity, it seems petty to argue about methodology. I am a Christian today because of someone else’s feeble attempt to live out the gospel. No, in reality, I’m a Christian today because of a long line of people, over the past two thousand years, who feebly attempted to live out the Gospel.

    Personally, I’m more grateful for my salvation than I am concerned about how those folks reached out to me.

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