Thursday, May 16, 2002

Walking the WalkMartin Roth points out that Papau New Guinea is among the most Christian nations in the world (97.3% per Operation World) yet is facing an AIDS epidemic. After mentioning the large evangelism effort Australians have made in PNG, Martin wonders
What on earth are church leaders teaching their 97.3% flock (or is the problem all the fault of the other 2.7%)? What messages are the missionaries bringing? Should I be directing my tithes elsewhere? Or should I just sit back content in the knowledge that so many are going to heaven?
Let's not forget that they are counting in that 97.3% figure a lot of nominal Christians, people who have some attachment to a church but may rarely darken the door of a church. My 1993 edition of Operation World has PNG as 96.8% Christian and 22.3% of the population being evangelical. That compare that to 86.5% and 30.3% in the US and 70.6% and 12.6% in Australia. This isn't to say that evangelical churches are AIDS-free zones, but there are a lot of people who will put "Christian" down as their religion without having a real knowledge of God or Jesus. In addition, a lot of more liberal churchs will wink at sexual immorality, thus not giving a clear moral vision that might of kept some young people out of trouble. Martin's missionaries might have been on the ball, but others might not have been. Question-if PNG is more evangelized than Australia as the data suggests, why not sent missionaries to Sydney rather than Port Moresby? Yes, sending people to the Dark Jungle to civilize the natives is sexier than witnessing in your own backyard, but one should send people where they are needed. The believers were commissioned in Acts 1:8 to be "my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." He was working from in town, to the nearby areas and then further afield. We need to send people where there are needed rather than where the stereotype says they are needed.

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