The following is solely my own opinion and does not reflect the opinion(s) of Indego Africa or Grace Baptist Church. The thoughts are addressed to Christians.
Last Sunday was my last meeting as a Director of Indego Africa. I am stepping away for a year or so to invest more energy into my ever-expanding family and the Grace Baptist Church. Though I fully support Indego Africa and the incredible team we’ve built in the United States and Rwanda, I am deeply saddened to push away from a table where I have enjoyed the privilege of helping change people’s lives and helping them experience goodness. [All goodness comes from God].
To be clear, many people have worked insane hours and sacrificed personal gain in order to pursue Indego Africa’s mission to connect African women artisans with global markets and education. The extensive Indego Africa team and the incredible Rwandan entrepreneurs for whom we work can be found on the website. Moreover, everything there is to know about Indego Africa can be found on the website. Without an elementary understanding of Indego Africa, the rest of this post may not make much sense…
In this post I simply wish to highlight two observations from my ride with IA since our inception in 2006 and inaugural trip to Rwanda in August 2007.
1) God – The Maker of heaven and earth – has a design that is, obviously, universal. He is to be glorified and honored in ALL aspects of personal and corporate life, including the economic, political, business, educational and social sectors of the world. The “Gospel” (the good news of God fulfilled in Christ) begins with Holy Spirit redeeming every aspect of our life and then extends through us to reflect this redemptive power of Christ to a world living in constant need of Holy Spirit redemption and renewal. In other words, Christians exist for the spiritual and social renewal of the world. (If that jolts you and you’re asking What about proclaiming the Gospel to save people from their sins? That goes under spiritual renewal: conversion, regeneration, born again/anew/from on high, etc.) Our work towards Christocentric spiritual and social renewal is our act of worship towards God (this is God’s will for us: that we be conformed into the likeness of His Son). In Jesus’ words: Christians are the salt and light of the world. This is our function: to reflect the Son. I know disciplemaking is a hot word these days and disciplemaking is integral to sustain and teach “the faith handed down once and for all” (Titus 3, 2 Tim 2.2, Great Commission, etc.). But what is the purpose of the disciple? What good works do we spur one another toward? Are we to separate ourselves from the population and become the gnew gnostics? (see what i did there?) Absolutely not. That undermines “as the Father has sent Me, so I send you.” There is a function to our redemption; to pursue and teach God’s design in such a way that His glory is reflected in all aspects of life. I am still learning what that looks like, especially on the United States political landscape, but this is an area I’ve been learning and growing in for many years. What about corporate worship? Regularly interspersed in this “working for Holy Spirit renewal” is the fact that Christians are to break from their work and gather to intentionally and gladly celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, sing songs to Him alongside Brothers and Sisters, hear His Word expounded, celebrate baptism and communion, confess sin, repent of sin, and enjoy all sorts of other corporate worship elements. The purpose of the gathering is to retain (or in some cases regain) our focus and joy of Jesus while we work for Him during the week and wait for Him to return and make all things new. Contemplate the day He returns…what a day of rest! No more hard work to fight for social and spiritual renewal. Everything will be made new. As it was in the beginning so it shall ever be, world without end. Amen!
To further unpack this first lesson would require many chapters. I’m certain others have already written on all of these subjects with greater clarity than I could ever write. So on to observation number two.
2) The organizations leading the way in honoring God’s design in the economic, political, business, educational and social sectors of the world are not always Christian. God uses “non-Christians” to accomplish His purpose of bringing about good for people (Psalm 145.9 Yahweh is good to everyone).
Indego Africa is not a Christian organization. A myriad of belief systems are reflected throughout the organization. So how is a non-Christian organization an expression of God’s Goodness? Indego Africa is an expression of God’s goodness simply because pursuing another person’s good is a reflection of God’s eternal goodness. By this definition then, many social enterprises are expressing God’s goodness. Exactly. Though these organisations fail to clearly communicate the ultimate goodness of God expressed in the atoning death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, these orgs nonetheless are expressing an aspect of God’s character by providing fair wages, a safe work environment, stable and equatable infrastructure, equipping people through education of international standards, providing opportunity to exercise gifts and skill-sets, fighting for land property rights, providing legal structure to government to accommodate social enterprises, etc. In some cases, non-religious NGOs (non-governmental organizations like the United Nations) do a good job of following Matthew 25.35-36.
Using Indego Africa as an example of the broader world of social enterprises: without knowing it or intentionally attempting to do it, social enterprises obey and convey the second half of the Ten Commandments: to sustainably (means permanently, just like our disciplemaking should be) protect and secure a person’s life, family, property and reputation. And not only is a portion of God’s law addressed, but valuing value is thrown into the mix. [“Set your minds on things above. Think about that which is noble, good, pure.”] When value is added to people, value will be added to education, which benefits society, which benefits an economy, which benefits the business world, which benefits the arts (need wealthy donors!), which benefits everyone’s all-around enjoyment of creativity and beauty, which results in the necessity for a governing body (politics – figuring out how we live together for everyone’s good) to ensure value is not taken away from any sector, but protected and/or enhanced. So you see the connection and the bigger picture? All of this ultimately points to Jesus Messiah, the Good Shepherd. Christian groups – beginning with the one I belong to – should commit to learn their cultural context and commit to do the hard things in such a way that many people begin to experience the goodness of God in day-to-day life. And in doing so, would be pointed to the One Who Is Himself the Source of Eternal Goodness.
Thank you, Indego Africa for helping me develop and exercise muscles I’ve deeply desired to flex in the Church. And, please accept my apologies on behalf of the broader population (not ALL of the population) of the “Western Church” for our lack of support and participation in the work you and other groups are doing; work which God primarily tasked and empowered His People to attempt and accomplish. The apology is this: we’re simply ignorant, lazy and comfortable with status quo. Ironically, we are guilty of the same charges we hastily cast upon the poor. Thanks for waking us/me from our/my slumber.