Embracing a Heart for Africa
Posted on December 06, 2016
Eight years ago, my hard heart towards Africa began to soften.
Before meeting Celestin Musekura and seeing the work of ALARM, I believed Africa would always have an insatiable need for countless charities to provide orphan-care, clean-water wells, food, medicine, and other goods. In my view, the inability of most African nations to achieve or maintain good leadership, enforce the rule of law, and curb the pervasive corruption in their countries would doom the majority of the continent to third-world status forever. In light of these overwhelming problems, what could I possibly do to make a lasting impact?
However, my perspective changed when I started attending a Bible study for lawyers focused on justice issues. One morning, Celestin Musekura spoke to our group about the ministries of ALARM in east and central Africa. ALARM was teaching and training local lawyers, government leaders, police officers, pastors, and judges they could be significant agents of change within their countries. And—what impressed me most—this work was not being led by outsiders sent to “fix” Africa. Instead, courageous ALARM-supported African Christians headed the effort.
Eventually, I was challenged to join six lawyers from our church in partnership with ALARM to teach African lawyers, judges, and pastors on biblical justice issues. Even though I felt ill-equipped, I stepped out in faith and went to Congo.
In Congo, I found the ALARM staff to be skilled, loving, and effective. The attendees’ sincere desire to be agents of change under the banner of Christ convinced me ALARM’s ministry of leadership and reconciliation could truly change Africa.
After the conference ended, one of the police officers attending was walking home when he encountered a bloodied man holding a machete—ready to seek revenge for the beating he received from a man in a different tribe. Using the ALARM training he had just received and relying on the Spirit, the policeman approached the man and explained the circle of violence his revenge would fuel. He talked with the hurting man about the love of Jesus Christ and the need to forgive as we have been forgiven. Remarkably, the man abandoned his quest and agreed to meet in the future to learn more about Christ.
Since my first trip eight years ago, my wife Kelly and I have traveled to six different east African countries with ALARM. Not only have these experiences encouraged us, they have expanded our perspective of God’s calling on our lives. Just as Scripture calls us to spread the gospel through evangelism, discipleship, and church planting, it also challenges us to fight injustice, violence, and oppression in our world—both at home and abroad.
As you’ve read my story, you may be thinking, “That’s great for you, Scott, but I’m not a lawyer. I’m not ready to go to Africa. What can I do to fight injustice, violence, and oppression in Africa?”
No matter your background, you can join ALARM’s work in Africa by sharing ALARM’s story with others, praying for the African people working with ALARM, and giving financially so their reconciliation ministry will continue to thrive. And, who knows? Maybe, one day, you too will go.