Mozambique needs our help. Iris Global, the ministry led by missionaries Heidi and Rolland Baker, is calling for support as the country has been hit by two devastating cyclones. Rolland wrote earlier this month after Cyclone Idai had put millions of lives at risk:
We heard stories. One old blind man lived in a shabby hut with his wife who fed and took care of him. But the storm destroyed their house, and his wife was killed by flying debris. Afterward neighbors came by and built him a simple lean-to shelter with scattered pieces of wood so he could sit out of the rain. But now his wife is no more and he is truly alone.
What is his future? Untold others died in the storm, probably thousands. Bodies are floating in the floodwaters. Crops are washed away. An entire harvest is gone. Roads are impassable. Clean water cannot be found.
Large areas are twenty and even thirty feet under water. The devastation stretches for hundreds of kilometers across three provinces and also Zimbabwe and Malawi.
This is the worst weather-related disaster ever to hit the southern hemisphere. The United Nations has never had to coordinate such a massive relief effort before. 1.8 million people were already facing critical food shortage before the cyclone. Now their meager supplies and possessions are wiped out.
This weekend, Cyclone Kenneth arrived and made the situation even worse. Heidi reports on Facebook:
Please keep praying! Reports from the north show Cyclone Kenneth wiped out entire coastal villages and now the continuous heavy rains are causing flash flooding, landslides, and homes to collapse. Rescue operations are slow-going because roads are either underwater or washed out. Through it all, we keep our eyes on Jesus!
In his Nobel speech, Dr. Denis Mukwege highlighted how the aweful conflict in Congo – the deadliest war since WW2 – that has led to the death and rape of millions of people, have been fuelled by the electronics industry.
The troubling reality is that the abundance of our natural resources – gold, coltan, cobalt and other strategic minerals – is the root cause of war, extreme violence and abject poverty.
We love nice cars, jewelry and gadgets. I have a smartphone myself. These items contain minerals found in our country. Often mined in inhuman conditions by young children, victims of intimidation and sexual violence.
When you drive your electric car; when you use your smart phone or admire your jewelry, take a minute to reflect on the human cost of manufacturing these objects.
As consumers, let us at least insist that these products are manufactured with respect for human dignity.
For decades, rebel groups supported by foreign nations have taken control over mines in Eastern Congo to “tax” the workers in exchange for their “security”. Minerals like coltan, tungsten and gold are then transported on roads also control by militias to be exported to Asian nations where they are assembled into electronics or jewelry. Continue reading Denis Mukwege: The Link Between Smartphones and War→
Dr. Denis Mukwege, Congolese gynecologist who receives his Nobel Peace Prize today, proclaimed in 2015 when he was preaching at a Swedish Pentecostal conference: ”The Panzi hospital is a fruit of your prayers!”A Pentecostal himself who occasionally pastors a local church in Bukavu, dr. Mukwege has repeatedly thanked the Swedish Pentecostal movement for supporting him.
This support goes way back and have had multiple layers. We have talked to Maria Bard at PMU, the Swedish Pentecostal Mission’s development cooperation organization, about what this bond between their organization and Panzi has looked like, as well as her personal meetings with and impressions of Mukwege himself.
What has the Swedish Pentecostal movement done to support Mukwege?
–First of all, Denis Mukwege’s father was a pastor in the Congolese Pentecostal movement CEPAC, which was founded by Swedish missionaries in 1921. Swedish Pentecostal churches funded parts of Mukwege’s medical education. Initially, he worked on a hospital called Lemera which was founded by Pentecostals. It was one of the biggest and most well-functioning hospitals in the region. Many Swedish Pentecostal missionaries have been treated and born there. It was destroyed as the First Congo War broke out.
–There was a lot of discussion on whether the Lemera Hospital should be rebuilt or if a new hospital should be constructed. Due to the recent genocide in Rwanda, there was a lot of need in the Congolese province of South Kivu. In addition to grants from elsewhere, the director of PMU at the time, Roland Stenlund, convinced the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) to help financing the establishment of a new hospital, led by Dr. Mukwege. The Panzi Hospital.Continue reading Pentecostal Nobel Prize Laureate Denis Mukwege is “Accepted in All Camps”→
In November, Gracie and I spent ten days with Sub-Saharan African migrants in Egypt and Morocco—most of whom are undocumented. Spending time with these vulnerable and courageous people has refreshed our perspective on life and faith.
I share these thoughts on migration and immigration in response to disturbing news articles I’m reading about anti-immigrant rhetoric in the USA and Europe–and I hope to dissuade people of faith from any collusion with negative attitudes and the promotion of restrictive policies.
This past Sunday I preached at an underground church made up or largely undocumented African immigrants living in Morocco. Morocco is now the preferred crossing point for Africans seeking to enter Europe—though many have no choice but to seek passage via war zones like Yemen, or failed states like Libya.
For too long, the wars in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have been destroying millions of lives. It is the deadliest conflict since World War Two, fuelled by conflict minerals used in our electronics and cars. Rape is a weapon of war; eastern Congo is one of the most dangerous places on earth to be a woman.
In the midst of this chaos, darkness and death, a bright light is shining. That light will now receive a Nobel Peace Prize.
For the past two weeks Gracie and I have ministered alongside our African partners to run four-day trainings for pastors and leaders in Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. We have been delighted to see widespread negative images of God dramatically give way to our teachings and group Bible studies on God’s love and grace, exciting us to further equip people to proclaim good news.
Negative images of God are common in places of poverty and hardship. Christians, Muslims and adherents of traditional African religions are all inclined towards legalism and performance. Known “sinners” usually do not feel welcomed in church services, until they first make required changes. Once inside the church they will often hear messages of condemnation, and promises that a life of purity and sacrifice will lead to financial and personal success. Continue reading Challenging Prosperity Theology and Legalism in Africa→
Review originally published at the LSE Africa Blog. Reposted with permission.
Gregory Deacon of Oxford University says that the book Pentecostalism and Development: Churches, NGOs and Social Change in Africa (edited by Dena Freeman) provides some compelling answers regarding Pentecostalism and development.
With its noisy churches and high profile media presence, Pentecostalism is religion writ large and exciting. Dramatic claims are made – for example that it is ‘redrawing the religious map of the world’. Dena Freeman’s edited volume tackles head on whether this is good or bad for development. This is done in the context of 30 years of neoliberalism and an explosion in numbers of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as well as Pentecostal churches. The role of both in alleviating poverty and improving living conditions for Africans is considered.
Over the past three decades, Pentecostal Christianity has exploded across Africa. At the same time many secular development agencies, including the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), have been struggling to incorporate religion and faith based organisations into their policies and processes. As a research fellow at the University of Oxford looking at religion and development, I have similarly found Pentecostalism impossible to ignore. Continue reading Is Pentecostalism Doing More for Africa’s Poor than International NGOs?→