Thursday, March 23, 2006

Christians: Activist vs. Missionary

After reading excellent posts at Stop The ACLU and The Dread Pundit Bluto regarding the successful multinational military rescue of three members of the Christian Peace Team, I was struck by the difference between so-called Christian Peace Team activists and the Christian missionaries I have been fortunate to know. The peace activists invoke the name of Christ to pursue political objectives. From the CPT website:

"Christian Peacemaker Teams is a program of Brethren, Quaker and Mennonite Churches (USA and Canada). The Baptist Peace Fellowship, Every Church a Peace Church, On Earth Peace and The Presbyterian Peace Fellowship are also sponsors of CPT."

Looking at their operational areas, it is no surprise that they are for the most part active in areas of the world where the United States has a powerful (military) influence or where they can represent ecological interests. Only one country (Chechnya) does not fall into this pattern. Most of their web site is devoted to "challenging the injustices of the occupation, and telling the stories of those forced to live under it."
The CPT says that they have learned that:
  • trained, skilled, international teams can work effectively to support local efforts toward nonviolent peacemaking;
  • “getting in the way” of injustice through direct nonviolent intervention, public witness and reporting to the larger world community can make a difference;
  • peace team work engages congregations, meetings and support groups at home to play a key advocacy role with policy makers.

Except this strategy doesn't work where they cannot blame the United States for all the evils that plague a nation. The CPT has been active since 1993, but where you will not find the CPT is:

Sudan: "conflict that broke out in the western region of Darfur in 2003 has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and nearly 2 million displaced; as of late 2005, peacekeeping troops were struggling to stabilize the situation" (CIA Factbook). CPT? Not there.

Rwanda: A civil war, "along with several political and economic upheavals, exacerbated ethnic tensions, culminating in April 1994 in the genocide of roughly 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The Tutsi rebels defeated the Hutu regime and ended the killing in July 1994, but approximately 2 million Hutu refugees ... fled to neighboring Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and the former Zaire" (CIA Factbook). CPT presense? Nada.

It seems that the CPT haunts countries where the US can be blamed for all manner of mischief and the US military can bail them out if needed.

I have a good friend who comes from a missionary family. He was brought up in the Central African Republic (CAR) and is active in the missionary field through Baptist Mid Missions. His brother is currently a missionary in the CAR, the same nation his father served for so many decades.

Or at least he was until muslims and animists threatened him and his family. He has been robbed at gunpoint by muslim militia; once a militia member put the muzzle of a rifle in his mouth and threatened to kill him. He has been forced to hide while they broke into his house at night and ransacked it. He has also defended himself with a rifle against garden variety thieves. He has been threatened with imprisonment for a business deal that never took place. He has been forced to flee the country twice in as many years but still struggles to go back.

Why does he do this? Simple, he is trying to train local Africans to start and maintain their own churches. He feels a bond of loyalty that few of us can understand, a sense of responsibility for a people, a nation where God has called him. There are no US armed forces to protect him. He does not engage in empty symbolic exercises. He is too busy spreading the gospel. This is a true Christian activist.

There are no politics as far as he is concerned. He could care less about presidents and councils and media representation. His sole concerns is for souls. It is the missionaries who go to places where you will never find activists.

Many activists seek their lives, define their lives through the media. Where there are no cameras, there you will find the missionary.

The last commandment of Christ charged all believers with the Great Commission:

“All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Mt. 28:18-20 ASV).

You judge if the CPT agenda of anti-war demonstrations is in compliance with this.

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