Thursday, February 23, 2006

No Short-Cuts for Missions

I came across the following editorial from Christianity Today about Bruce Wilkinson's failed work in Africa. I read this with real sadness.
Given that Africa has often been a graveyard for missionaries, Bruce Wilkinson's sad and sudden departure probably shouldn't surprise us. In 2002, flush with celebrity, the Prayer of Jabez author determined to use his newfound wealth and influence to address Africa's tremendous social and spiritual problems. Eventually, his territory-enlarging vision narrowed to Swaziland, a tiny, impoverished kingdom abutting South Africa. Swaziland, with a population of 1.1 million people, has 70,000 orphans, mostly because of AIDS.

Wilkinson announced plans to start Dream for Africa (DFA), a $190 million project that would house 10,000 orphans on a 32,500-acre complex by the end of this year. The plan included a golf course, a dude ranch, abstinence training, and the planting of 500,000 small vegetable gardens. But facing hostile, misinformed accounts in the Swazi press and resistance from government officials, Wilkinson, 58, announced last fall he was leaving Africa and taking an early retirement from active ministry. The dream would continue, but in other hands and on a much smaller scale.

I thought the editorial was insightful and balanced. It not only commends the desire and effort of Wilkinson but critiques mistakes in execution. "Considering the world's suffering," it states, "the church needs more saints like Wilkinson, who dare greatly. But that daring must give due consideration to missions basics."

Though I didn't agree with the premise of his best-selling The Prayer of Jabez or the way many people treated the prayer as a sort of good luck charm, I respect Wilkinson's obvious love for the Savior and desire to minister to the poor and to orphans. I hope you'll join me in praying for Mr. Wilkinson and his family.

You can read the full article here.

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