Growing up in Rhodesia, I had the opportunity to experience the magic of Africa. I grew up with Africans, learned the Shona language and saw so much of the things that make this continent alluring. Its diversity in language, culture and climate make it one of the most intriguing places on earth.
It’s an immense continent — one so large that the continental U.S. could fit in it three times with room to spare. However, the problems in Africa are as immense as the continent itself. In the U.S., we are bombarded by images of poverty from non-profit organizations that want to help make those problems go away. But issues of the heart can’t be solved by throwing $500 billion at them.
There definitely needs to be a balance in reaching out to Africa. We can’t ignore the fact that people are hungry, sick, and have no clean water. We must take action and do what we can to reverse generations of poverty. However, root problems still persist. People don’t know about the powerful love of the Savior — and they desperately need to.
Before I began following Jesus, I spent time in law enforcement and witnessed the ugly side of a beautiful people. The deep-seated hatred some people had for those from other tribes often rose to the surface in a conflict. And the outcomes weren’t pretty.
After I became a Christian, I reflected on some of what I saw and realized that only through Jesus could people resolve their issues and live peacefully. As someone who experienced a dramatic turnaround in my own life, I understood the power of grace. It colored a huge amount of the depth of my heart for Africa.
Melding my experiences in Africa together, I realized just how important the demonstration and proclamation of the Gospel is. We need to show people God’s love and share with them about His love and grace. It’s the only way a continent can be transformed — and it’s the only way we can be transformed, too.