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Seeing in the Dark, Part 2

An interview with Michelle Tessendorf, Executive Director of Orchard: Africa

What are some challenges the African church is facing now which we may not be facing in the Western church?

Africa is facing the greatest humanitarian crisis that the world has known. We see all these earthquakes and natural disasters, and clearly the church responds to that and should respond to that. But on a daily basis we having that disaster play out in Africa, and I think sometimes we become numb to those statistics but they're very real. The church in Africa is truly suffering tremendously, especially rural churches. Rural churches in Africa have typically been poor and struggled with very little resources, but the church leaders are so full of the Holy Spirit and so determined to serve God even within that poverty that is a result of AIDS and the economically active adult population dying off. The Western church needs to be aware of that. The Western church needs to follow the book of Acts, where those who had plenty helped those who didn't have. Mission trips were initiated, and the church truly helped each other and worked as a church worldwide. The Western church needs to be aware that this isn't just the popular thing to get involved with right now and then move on in a year or two. We truly need a long-term solution and long-term partnerships from the Western church.

One of the issues that we have is that the Muslim imams are seeing the same death that we see at Orchard: Africa, this missing generation. And they see an entire generation that can be brought to Islam. sub-Saharan Africa has had hundreds of years of Christian missions, and we could lose all of the ground we've won in one generation if the church does not step up and see there are millions of orphans that are vulnerable. It is the church's responsibility to maintain the Christian presence in sub-Saharan Africa. It's the church's responsibility to strengthen the rural church in Africa, so that we do not lose this generation for Christ.

What problems and challenges do we have in common?

Human creatures that God created are the same intrinsically. The bottom line is we all just want to have good family lives. We want to see our children progress. And we have the same challenge as children grow up to maintain their relationship with the Lord as they become teenagers. Just making sure that people are truly connected to Christ and not being entertained in church. The church sometimes tries to compete with the world and sometimes our church services turn into entertainment. That can happen in the church in Africa as well, where we entertain our congregations rather than uplift them and challenge them and draw them closer to Christ. Church leaders struggle through how we get our message across in the way that people can relate to.

July22, 2013 at 8:00 AM

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