“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.” – Matthew Parris (RichardDawkins.net article 2009)

The more brokenness and lostness you see in our world, the more you recognize that the problem at the core of humanity is NOT solved through material means. Governments and organizations provide tons of material relief where spiritual transformation is needed. Material resources do not solve the brokenness of the human spirit.  Relief has its place but is not the answer.  Relationship is the answer.

At its core, the human problem is a spiritual problem and demands a spiritual solution. Dumping money on communities that need rehabilitation exacerbates the problem. If your house was on fire, would you attempt to extinguish it with water or gasoline?

Jesus Christ is in the transformation business. He is the only figure in history to properly diagnose our disease (sin and death) and offer a cure (salvation and life through Christ alone). Every other worldview requires human effort. The world scoffs at the name of Jesus Christ. Strangely, an atheist recognizes the transformational power of the Gospel of Christ.  I commend him for his honesty.

If you read the Matthew Parris article, you must conclude that the transformation he is describing in Africa is authentic. He is observing the outward manifestation (evidence) of an inward transformation of the heart. People who are truly ‘in Christ’ bear the fruit of Christ; sacrificial love, service, hope, joy, discipline and patience.

The entire article is very interesting, but Matthew Parris’s conclusion nails it:
“Those who want Africa to walk tall amid 21st-century global competition must not kid themselves that providing the material means or even the knowhow that accompanies what we call development will make the change. A whole belief system must first be supplanted.

And I’m afraid it has to be supplanted by another. Removing Christian evangelism from the African equation may leave the continent at the mercy of a malign fusion of Nike, the witch doctor, the mobile phone and the machete.

Imagine waking up having settled the biggest question of life once and for all (destiny). No matter what the world throws your way, you are at peace. In the midst of the storms of life, you know for a fact that you are eternally secure. You are free to love and forgive others because you walk in the power of God’s grace in relationship with him. Experiencing God’s grace changes who you are, how you act and your motivations.  Your relationship with Christ changes your relationships with others.

If you believe that ALL humans are created in the image of God, it changes the way you see yourself and others.

Further reading and resource:
“When Helping Hurts” (Corbett and Fikkert)
Matthew Parris: As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God (2009 Article)