An atheist’s take on missions

This Thursday another team from All Saints leaves for South Africa.  They go to encourage and support the long-term work amongst the poor and the sick there.  As Christians, we believe that the gospel has both vertical implications (reconciling us to God) and horizontal implications (transforming how we see and treat all human beings).  Because of this, we don't divorce word and deed when we think about gospel ministry.  If Christians preach the gospel to people, but ignore their physical needs or problems, then Christians seem to be proponents of a redemption that doesn't impact the real world.  However, if Christians only meet physical needs and never talk about Christ, then we leave out the One in Whom real personal transformation and true eternal hope are found.  "And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction (Matt. 9:35)."  He taught, he proclaimed the gospel, He healed.  Word and deed.  

In light of this and in light of our team leaving for South Africa, I wanted to pass along an intriguing article that a friend recently sent me.  Matthew Parris, a TimesOnline columnist and self-proclaimed atheist, makes our point for us as to why we can never divorce word and deed in mission.  Parris writes:

"Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good."

Read the rest of the article here.