Tuesday, May 11, 2004

A truly formative part of my spiritual journey has been the eight years I spent in Tanzania, East Africa. The formation came in many different ways, but one of the greatest blessings was to see the spirituality of a non-secularized people who put their faith in Jesus. I say "non-secularized" because the Africans I was blessed to know had not adopted a western worldview that elevated human capability and relegated the spiritual to the realm of superstition. Once someone asked me if those Tanzanians believed the spiritual was just as "real" as the physical - but that question betrays our bias. In my response I avoided the whole question of "real" and using the physical as the standard, but stated that they related equally to both what is seen and unseen without thinking in terms of what is "real" and what is not. For those Africans everything is a seamless whole. For this reason, there is a robustness to their faith that shows the weakness of the faith of a thoroughly modern person whose belief is formed within the boundaries of modernity's parameters.

This last Sunday I was truly blessed to help welcome a new family that last week moved here from Africa. In spending time with them and seeing and hearing their powerful faith in God expressed in everything, I was reminded again why I learned so much from those Tanzanians. I might have gone as a missionary to share with them the Good News, but they accepted and believed it in a way surpassed my own belief.

Our African friends here have come as missionaries whose mission is to be a part of a mobilization effort. They are here to earn money to send back to support Kingdom work in Africa. As one said, God provides us three meals a day and the rest is Kingdom work.

Praise God that we have some missionaries among us whose sense of calling will undoubtedly challenge us all. God may have sent them for another reason as well - to feed a revival among American churches which have become too comfortable!

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