Let’s talk about Africa.  Many of you know about the problems in Sub-Saharan Africa – from poverty to AIDS to orphans.  No doubt many of you have responded by giving money, but today I want to talk about a new way to respond.  First, here is some background.

We live in an exciting time.  Technology makes it seem like the world is getting smaller.  Cell phones and internet access are everywhere.  I can be Facebook friends with people all over the world.  I can communicate for free using email or Skype.  If we speak different languages, Google Translate will translate text for me.  It’s a fun time to be alive.

In my first trip to Africa, I was particularly struck by the dire circumstances of people in the Congo.  When I returned, I asked God what He wanted me to do with that experience.  He showed me 1 John 3:17-18, “But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?  Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.”  I had read these verses many times, but this time was different.  He used these verses to tell me to go back.

And so I did.  But to do what?  I had no relevant experience – or so I thought.

What was initially quite fuzzy is now clear.  I have now led several teams to the city of Bukavu in the Congo.  Our goal – encouraging relationships.  Broken relationships are the root of many problems in Africa.  We build relationships with people there and encourage them to build relationships with us, with each other and with Jesus Christ.

Our methods are equally clear.  We do three things.  We promote and distribute the Word of God.  We promote and recruit Americans to pray.  Fundamentally, it is a spiritual battle requiring spiritual weapons – the Bible and prayer.  Finally, to help Africans follow God’s instructions to “subdue the earth,” we teach people how to form and grow businesses and assist them with startup funds.  The formation and growth of businesses addresses a key need in Africa – employment.

So what’s the new way to respond?  You can develop long term relationships with Africans as well.  Today’s technology makes continuing relationships possible.

I am praying that God will raise two teams of business people to go to two nearby cities; they will encourage relationships as they take Bibles, teach business and recruit people to pray.

I am also praying for a team of teachers to go to Bukavu and develop relationships with the African teachers.  Seeing the schools in Africa will make you cry.  The teachers in Bukavu want to be educated by American teachers and learn from their experiences.  You could be that teacher.

Because the world is getting smaller, we should no longer be content with just providing money.  Money alone will not change the hearts of the people in Africa or enable them to subdue the earth.  They need relationships.  And so do we.

Here’s the cool thing – the thing that will bring you great joy – as you go, you will see God provide for your every need, in real time.  You will be weak, but Jesus will be strong!  I will train you, provide the curriculum and arrange for the on-ground logistics, but Jesus will handle all of the hard work – changing the hearts of people.

Here’s the other cool thing – you will see God using you in His process of changing the hearts of Africans.  You will also see how He used the Africans to change your heart.  The ultimate win-win situation.

What are the next steps?  Join the movement.  Read 1 John 3:17-18.  Pray.  Then call me so we can talk about what God may want to do through you.

Greg Herring     Congo[at]herring-group[dot]com

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