Today I want to begin my newsletter with what I hope will be a soul searching question. Whose responsibility is the spread of the gospel? How we answer this question will go a long way to explain our response to the need of the millions of lost people around the world? To be honest I find the need too great that I always find the temptation of indifference to the need a safer bet than my consideration of it, purely because the cost involved is just too costly. In the past, my passion for the glory of God to cover the earth has so driven me that I have too often minimised the cost involved because of the mere delight to serve him. But there are days when the cost weighs on you too strongly for you to ignore. You can feel your passion wane, your love leak, and your hope fade. Like in the words of Paul, ‘so that we despaired even of life’. To understand this you must enter my world, hopefully in a few paragraphs you will have a hint of what am talking about.
Like most missionaries I know, you enter the field with so much expectations and high hopes of the mighty things God will use you to achieve in these peoples he has placed you. You literally feel like a dynamite, you feel strong often bordering on the invincibility. You dive deep and begin to do that and the other. Every small progress/success seems to heighten what you believed, that you could actually change the world. But soon enough the world starts closing in, that one guy who you had told to the whole world that he was on fire fizzles out. The other guy was actually never interested in what you had to say, his expectations were always different you just never saw. I could go on but it’s here that you soon realise that when Paul told Timothy not to be hasty on laying on of hands, he understood this well. When we are trapped by our own good intentions seems like a good title for a book or better yet a proverb.
Usually that’s the beginning, when the true colours start shining out brightly like the beautiful sunset in my back yard (you actually need to see it, it’s beautiful) then the party begins (say this with hope that God redeems chaos into celebration). When animal sacrifices are made in your backyard kraal, and you start seeing the smoke rise up to the chanting and silent reverence to the ancestors for protection and providence then you begin wondering whether you dived beyond your depth. If rumours of cattle rustling don’t move you then the ram-pant alcoholism will constantly be in your face. I won’t be wrong if I said the Karamajong drink their life away, am definitely stereotyping here but that’s how it feels like and am almost certain the statistics back me.
Having said all that, the worst wakeup call for me came a few days ago. Since we moved deeper into the village, we were always entertained by overnight dances in the nearby villages. If it is this village today, it is the other village the next time. And being on a hill and surrounded by these villages we can almost hear who is playing for the night given the fact that they are louder than your local night club. My assumption of these long night singing, heavy drumming and dancing was always attributed to a ‘happy’ people drunk on their local brew. It was my greatest shock when I was told this was night vigil to the spirits. This was them worshipping and appeasing the spirits so no harm would befall them. This was them trying to chase away bad spirits, often time it’s the local witchdoctors’ antidote to exorcise demons. To understand why this is such a big burden that is weighing me down is to understand two things; it’s to understand the frequency of this, the openness at which its practiced, the normality and acceptance it has. It’s considered the normal way and not the exception. I agree my naivety has something to play in all this because where I come from people don’t go to witch doctors in the light, they hide and try to cover it up. But another reason why am being weighed down is my own indiscipline in prayer in light of these matters, my preaching won’t do much, they need a power encounter. How can a people hear a message when they are still blinded by the god of this age? This has helped me understand the deep indifference they have on the gospel, they completely don’t care if only you could finish up your talk fast for them to ask you for tobacco. If you, me or the church of Christ do not pray and wrestle with God for these people, we may as well pack our bags and go home after all I miss the burgers. But we must also rest knowing their blood is on our heads., Ezekiel 33 illustrates this point.
I would be a liar if I said for once, I have not thought about throwing in the towel. But again that question fills my heart; whose responsibility is the spread of the gospel? Have had to answer this question to myself, I hope you do too. C.H. Spurgeon in response to the question of whether the heathen who have not heard the gospel will be saved said, ’it is more a question with me whether we, who have the gospel and fail to give it to those who have not, can be saved.’
However in all this, The words of Paul are my comfort as I write this letter, ’but this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.’