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Posts Tagged ‘Africa Missions’

Examples of Christian Charities Working in Africa

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

It goes without saying: Africa is a large and diverse continent. It is also a poor continent and faces a whole range of struggles, from political issues to health problems, poverty, famine and natural disasters. Tackling these sorts of issues is always challenging, but Christian charities have been dedicatedly working in Africa for many decades.

There is a long history of Christian charities working in specific African countries on many different issues. If we tried to list them all, we’d probably never finish. However, looking at a few examples can give us a better idea of the range of work that goes on and the kinds of organisations that get involved.

Tearfund

Tearfund is a Christian charity that was set up in the 1960s following the famine in Biafra. This was a tense time in the region; the civil war in Nigeria was what led to the famine and it was so severe, this organisation was born. Since then, the group has worked in lots of different African countries to help difficult situations such as famines and droughts, as well as supporting development. These countries have included Somalia, Ethiopia and Rwanda.
Christian AidThis is probably one of the most famous Christian charities working in Africa. Christian Aid has a focus on issues such as HIV/Aids, malaria, climate change, dealing with conflict, trade and human rights. It works in countries right across the continent, including working to end sexual violence in the DRC and engaging in issues in Sudan.

Rainbow Africa

This is a charity that works primarily in Zambia. It works in areas where there are very high levels of poverty with the aim of providing education to children and other support that can aid development. The organisation also has a focus on healthcare, which is of utmost importance in poor, impoverished areas.

World Vision

Children are often some of those most affected by problems in Africa and so supporting them in any way possible is of utmost importance. This is one of the aims of World Vision – actions include running campaigns to encourage people to sponsor a child in Africa so that they can receive support for their ambitions. Other projects include addressing the causes of poverty and working on disaster relief projects.

Overall, Christian charities from all over the world have a vital role to play in supporting Africa and its people. No single organisation can fix the issues alone, and these charities often work on very different issues in very different areas – but they all have one thing in common: their Christian ethos means that they are dedicated to working against all odds to help people in any way they can and they are all thoroughly committed to working together to achieve positive results.

Guest Post on behalf of World Vision UK. If you would like to support a child through the food crisis, why not sponsor a child in Niger?

A Brief History of Microfinance

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

 

If you don’t know much about microfinance, you might assume that it is a relatively recent idea designed to help the poor. However, the idea of microfinance charity actually goes back centuries and a wide range of related organisations have existed for many years. For example, Indian chit funds, West African tontines and Indonesian arisan all have histories as credit groups in deprived areas.

 

The concept of microfinance arguably first came to prominence during the 1700s in Ireland. It was during this time that the Irish Loan Fund was set up by Jonathon Swift, who is better known these days as an author. The aim of this fund was to provide small amounts of credit to poor people who didn’t have the assets to back up bigger, more formal loans. This scheme was ultimately very popular and at one time was providing loans to around a fifth of all Irish households.

 

As time went on, other organisations started to develop in Europe – often these were bigger and not specifically focused on microfinance, but they still had a strong focus on the poor and were often started by poorer people. Credit unions are one popular example of this; the idea behind the credit union was to help the rural poor get away from their dependence on rich moneylenders. The movement was started in Germany before moving across the rest of Europe and eventually into developing countries.

 

Elsewhere in the world, other microfinance and poor-focused schemes were starting to come to prominence around the same time. One notable example is the microfinance scheme that was started in Indonesia in the late 1890s. This was the Bank Perkreditan Rakyat.

 

It was in the early 1900s that the modern microfinance system really started to take shape – previously, it was the poor themselves who had owned the new institutions, but as the idea of microfinance spread to Latin America, banks and government agencies started to get in on the act. This wasn’t always successful and one of the key concerns – particularly during the 1950s-1970s – was that much of the money meant for poor farmers didn’t actually get to where it was intended.

 

Meanwhile, during the 1970s, some schemes were set up to support women entrepreneurs in areas such as Bangladesh. These started to be very successful and there was generally a low default rate on the loans. NGOs and charities also started to get more involved and the poor themselves often gained greater ownership over the microfinance institutions. Today, microfinance still faces challenges but the system is much more sustainable than it once was and the core principle of helping the poor remains.

 

In more recent times, World Vision UK has focused on helping the public fund micro finance loans for entrepreneurs in need.  As for Microfinance in Africa, World Vision Microloans funds businesses in Rwanda and Kenya at the moment and work may be extended into new areas in the future. If you want to help a small business in a community in need, why don’t you fund a loan today?

 

Guest Post on behalf of World Vision Microfinance.

 

Unreached People Groups, Last Frontier People Groups, Bibleless People Groups and Scripture Use…some definitions

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

 

I am convinced that the present generation is going to be more conscientious about answering God’s call to reach the unreached and Bibleless peoples of the world. There are several signs that such a thrust has already begun.

 

There has been an increase in the number of short-term mission experiences that have a component that introduces young, prospective missionaries to unreached people groups. Due to the security issues, these mission trips are not publicized widely.

 

The number of blogs discussing unreached peoples is swelling. They are written by a diverse band of Christians – from a church planter on Vegas Strip (vinceantonucci.com) to a Student Minister in Georgia (Our Generation). They all seem to have a common understanding stated clearly by Martin Tucker in his Mission To Mexico blog on January 28th, 2008. “While there may be a few believers, there is no established local church that can reach out to the rest of the group. Therefore, for the people group to come to know Jesus Christ, one of two things must happen. They must receive a divine revelation from God, like Paul on the road to Damascus, or believers elsewhere must bring Jesus to them.“

 

Who are these unreached people? There are a couple popular definitions with subtle, yet important, differences. David Barrett in his annual survey uses unreached to refer to only those who have never heard the gospel whether from a face to face encounter with an evangelist or through some form of mass evangelism (radio, television, or print). He has another category Evangelized Non-Christians for “persons who are not Christians in any recognized sense but who have become aware of Christianity, Christ, and the gospel and yet have not, or not yet, responded positively by accepting them.”

 

Barrett’s exposure approach seems to classify the unreached people on the activity of the evangelizing agent (missionary) and not the impact on the target community. Dayton and Fraser in the revised edition of Planning Strategies for World Evangelism differ with Barrett stating that they “consider a people as unreached until there are worshiping groups of Christians in sufficient numbers with enough resources to complete the task of evangelization within their own kind without outside help.”

 

The International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention adds another category: Last Frontier People Groups – this classifies the unreached as those people groups that are less than 2% evangelical with no active church planting in the past two years. According to the IMB, in their September 2008 report of the Status of Global Christianity, 50.5% of the world’s people groups (5,841), comprising 23% of the world’s population, fit into this category (this report comes with some great graphics locating the unreached and last frontier peoples). These definitions seem to even cover what I call stalled church growth movements. I consider this definition to be the most comprehensive and useful for planning and prayer for reaching the unreached.

 

No matter which definition you prefer, there are still thousands of people groups who are unreached and deserve attention.

 

Ethnologue is probably the best publicly available source for finding which language groups still do not have Bibles in their own language. As far as the numbers are concerned, current Bible agencies’ data shows that there are a little over 6,900 languages in the world (not to be confused with people groups). Only around 430 of them have entire Bibles and another 1,100 have New Testaments or scripture portions. That leaves more than 2,400 languages without any Christian scriptures.

 

Why is it important to translate scriptures in the vernaculars of the world? Roger E. Hedlund pointed out in a presentation titled THE WITNESS OF NEW CHRISTIAN MOVEMENTS IN INDIA at an IAMS conference in Malaysia in July of 2004, that there were three elements found in all expressions of growing Christian movements in the non-Western world: “(1) indigenous grassroots leadership, (2) embeddedness in local cultures, and (3) reliance on a vernacular Bible.”

 

Speaking directly to the African context, the late African theologian, Kwame Bediako of Ghana, believed that “It is to the undying credit of the modern missionary enterprise from the West, and to the lasting benefit of the newer churches which have resulted, that the value of the vernacular Bible for converts was generally recognized quite early. There is probably no more important single explanation for the massive presence of Christianity on the African continent than the availability of the Scripture in the many African languages. By rejecting the notion of sacred language for the Bible, Christianity makes every translation of its Scriptures substantially and equally the Word of God. Thus the existence of vernacular Bibles not only facilitates access to the particular communities speaking those languages, but also creates the likelihood that the hearers of the Word in their own languages will make their own response to it and on their own terms.”

 

Translating scripture into the vernaculars of the world is not enough. These scriptures have to be put to use. I have been part of discussions at Pioneer Bible Translators and the International Forum of Bible Agencies (IFOBA) over what is called variously scripture impact, scripture engagement, and scripture use. There is the understanding that translating scriptures is just the beginning. They must be introduced in ways that transforms lives and societies.

 

Understanding the terms unreached people groups, last frontier people groups, Bibleless peoples and scripture use, is an important step toward focusing our prayers. This generation of Christians is a praying generation. And, our God listens to his people, especially when our prayers coincide with his desires for the world. Set aside a time to pray each week for the unreached and Bibleless peoples of the world. Keep looking back here for more ideas to focus your prayers.

 

What do you think would help us focus our prayers on the unreached?
Any creative ideas of how to get other Christians to pray for the unreached and Bibleless people groups?