Well-Being Australia chairman Mark Tronson remembers his child hood when numerous missionaries to Africa visited the churches and his parents invariably took the family along to hear how the Gospel transposed the peoples of Africa into fine upstanding Christian men and women and boys and girls.
Everyone hung onto every word and watched spellbound the slide presentation, and as sure as night follows day, there would be slides of women with countless neck annulets (bangles) and men with spears after the traditional lion hunt.
The missionary men would preach from their thick black bibles where favourite verses had been liberally highlighted and the women missionaries would give a children’s talk and tell how the African children were learning to read and write (bible verses of course).
And so it was for decade after decade where men and women of zealous calling would go off to Africa as missionaries to continue such marvelous ministry to Africa. There never seemed to be any shortage of money as the good burghers of western Christian land dug deep thanking their lucky stars God had called someone else to such deep dark hinterlands.
1990’s huge change
In the mid 1990’s something changed. AIDS struck. One word describes the outcome: ‘Devastation’! Large numbers of adults started dying and a significant change in mission emphasis took place, to that of orphanages.
The Christian landscape changed, as it were, overnight. Along with this, there came an upsurge in unscrupulous child slavers with kidnapping children in large measure being directed into child solider roles or the sex trade. This is where the story of the Machine Gun Preacher comes in, that of Sam, Childers who made his first trip to the Sudan in 1998 and the many that followed, was exposed to the acts of the Lords Resistance Army, which he described as atrocious. www.machinegunpreacher.org
Now, according to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald (New York Times) another sweeping change is making the most ardent African politicians fear consequences beyond their comprehension. (www.smh.com.au)
Nigeria for example, in a quarter of a century, at the current rate Nigeria is growing, 300 million people, a population about as big as that of the present day US, and living in a country only slightly larger than Victoria.
Sub-Saharan Africa, which now accounts for 12 per cent of the world's population, will account for more than a third by 2100, by many projections. Joel Cohen, a professor of population at Rockefeller University in New York: ''The pace of growth in Africa is unlike anything else ever in history and a critical problem,''
Home grown evangelism
Apart from obvious economic growth and an expanding middle class, Mark Tronson says that never has there been an opportunity in African history for an evangelism springing from within their own peoples.
He recounts at the 2010 Baptist World Congress in Hawaii he met numerous African delegates including those from Nigeria which has an abundant Christian heritage. He interviewed a number of them for the Australian Missionary News IPTV and was mesmerised by their zeal for Jesus Christ and the Salvation He offers. tv.bushorchestra.com/BWC/index.html
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html