As I mentioned yesterday, I have just returned from a visit to South Africa with Campus Crusade. I will be posting more over the next few days, but here is the overview of my trip.
In the United States Campus Ministry of CCC (the "USCM"), one of our great values is raising up and sending students to other countries around the world. We do this not only to help other countries have the gospel, but also to cultivate in our students a mindset of reaching the lost wherever God calls the students to be.
For many years, Africa as a whole has not been a location to which we in the USCM have sent many students. There are many reasons for this, most of which are too technical to go into. But one major reason is that in years past, the African CCC leaders have not generally placed major importance on campus ministry, choosing instead to invest time and money in other strategies such as the Jesus Film. What this has meant for the USCM is that there have been few opportunities for us to send US students to African locations that are willing and able to receive them. A partnership of this type requires two willing parties.
That is changing, though, and that is why the team I went with was in Africa in the first place. African CCC is realizing more and more that if they really want to reach their nations and their continent for Christ, than they will have to invest more resources in reaching their campuses, where their future people of influence are gathered. So, they are becoming more willing to look at receiving teams of American students to help with evangelism on their campuses.
I travelled with eight other CCC staff from various places around the US to Cape Town, South Africa, for the meetings. We met with three African campus ministry leaders, each responsible for campus ministries in 13 or more countries, to talk about the issues of past histories and to begin exploring if partnering together is the right thing to do at this time. We had many hours of good, open talks about many things. We talked about differences between ministry in the US and Africa. We listened to these three men talk about the realities they faced every single day in their own lives, as well as the lives of their students (I will write more about this later - you won't even believe what you'll hear). We asked many questions about what we heard from them, and tried to see things through their grid. Most importantly, we "let them come to us," in regards to partnership, rather than assuming that they needed or wanted us to do so. With the still-looming shadow of colonialsim all over Africa, it is very dangerous to assume that they need or want our help. If they ask for it we can pursue relationship, and even then it will need to be on their terms, not ours.
Overall, it was a very productive time. It felt like in one week we took several months of steps toward working together. I am still processing what I saw and heard there, and will do my best to share some of that with you all. Getting to know the three African ministers, and hearing about their lives and ministries, will remain one of the highlights of my ministry career.
More to come...