Go east, young man

"Go east, young man" Continued...

Issue: "Superheroes strike again," Aug. 6, 2005

Americans who go to Africa today need an adventurous disposition. Pastor Beall said of himself and his volunteers in Zambia, "Yeah, we're different. Folks who come here are not satisfied just going to a church. They're a restless bunch." When asked what those who head to the African frontier would have done in the 19th century, he grinned and said, "We probably would have gone west back then."

Americans who want to help pioneers financially have different ways of doing so. Some donate money to big relief and development agencies. These organizations may be tied down by their administrative or publicity staffs and their needs or desires to play ball with governmental groups. The tie-downs, though, may also keep them from flying off into space or losing time and money on untested initiatives. Donors should throw hard questions at both bureaucrats and entrepreneurs.

Some churches also need to make hard decisions. For example, it's great to have good worship spaces, but do we need cathedrals? The orphanages in Namibia and Zambia profiled in this series exist because medium-sized churches chose to prioritize mercy over building a new sanctuary in one case and putting in air conditioning in the other.

And for the people moved to go to Africa, what David Livingstone (see "Livingstone's prayer") wrote a century and a half ago is still true today: "My heart is sore when I think of so many of our countrymen in . . . misery, while [in Africa] they could do much good to themselves and others." Some volunteers go from strength to strength, happy with their American jobs or studies and ready to advance. Some who feel dead-ended try out a different way of living. Both kinds in Africa can do much good for themselves and others.

Contact information for organizations spotlighted in this series:

Agathos Foundation

(working in South Africa)
P.O. Box 6127
Lynnwood, Washington 98036

Children of Zion

(working in Namibia)
P.O. Box 413
Churchville, MD 21028
(410) 942-0550

Sons of Thunder

(working in Zambia)
P.O. Box 7
Damascus, Maryland 20872
(301) 253-4939


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