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Welcome to familiesforafrica.org. Families for Africa are ordinary families serving in ordinary ways to bring extraordinary change to Africa.

We’re convinced that

One family can make a difference in an African life, an African family, an African village.
One thousand families can help a country.
One hundred thousand families can help save a continent.

At the same time, we believe that Africa can bring extraordinary changes to your family. We were created to care, to love our neighbors–both near and far. Jesus may the astonishing and counterintuitive claim that those who give their lives for others actually get more in return. Jesus said, “Those who want to save their lives will lose them, but those who lose their lives for me and the good news of my kingdom will save them (Mark 8:35). As we seek to bring change to places like Africa, we ourselves are changed. As we help heal, we are healed. As we help develop, we are developed. On and on.

Today is a strategic time to engage in Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa, in particular, faces profound challenges. You and your family can make a difference.

Families for Africa is committed to following guiding principles:

  • Relationships First–we realize that everything good that happens has relationships at the core.
  • Humility–we come as people in need to people in need.
  • Listening and Learning–we don’t come with solutions, we come to listen and learn.
  • Development–we not interested in giving “hand-outs”, we’re committed to giving a “hand-up”. Development has a higher priority than charity.
  • Sustainability–we want to find solutions with others that are sustainable, that result in real spiritual and socio-economic change.

Families for Africa has developed the following, evolving strategy:

  1. Adopt a Country: We suggest first that you chose a country–one that will be your family’s country. Adopt it as a family without any expectations, without any strings attached. It is simply your country. You are simply putting that country on the family’s radar screen (or refrigerator).
  2. Form a Connection: As you listen and learn about your country, look to form some kind of personal connection. Begin to build some relationships with individuals either from the country or serving in the country (e.g. missionaries, Peace Corps, etc.) Sponsor some children thru Compassion or World Vision or COTN. You’ll probably want to plan a visit to your country. When you do, look to listen and learn. Build some relationships with new friends and families in your country.
  3. Realize Your Contribution: We convinced that God has given members of your family particular passions, even assignments. As you get to know your country, build relationships, etc., begin to look for ways your “greatest passions intersected with your country’s greatest needs.” Probe ways in which you can make a contribution in that passion/need nexus.
  4. Invest in Change: Don’t forget that sustainable development and real change is the goal. You’ll have to be smart. Trillions of dollars have been poured into Africa and have brought little to no real change. As you discover needs, don’t rush to solve the problem with a quick fix. Study the problem, learn from Africans what works, invest in people and organizations you know and trust, look for real results–not just anecdotes. This is where it gets hard. Accept that, go slow, rejoice in little victories.
  5. Advance the Cause: Spread the word about what’s happening in your family as you engage in Africa. Recruit other families to adopt a country. As this effort multiplies, take some effort to know other families who have adopted your country as well. Share ideas, networks, etc.

Start the Learning Process:
To bring real creative change to Africa, you and I and our families need to get smart on this whole process of engagement. At the bottom right are some videos worth watching. I’ll continue compiling this video course in making a difference, in changing the world. Most of these videos are from TED Talks–a great resource. Let me know of any videos you find that I can add to our course.

Begin reading as well.  I’ve selected an array of books that I’m reading here.  Send me any books you’ve found helpful and I’ll post those as well. Several of the books address specific issues in Africa, others highlight ways of changing the world, still others deal with the theology behind Kingdom efforts that encompass a balance between words and deeds.

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Disciples or Crowds? »

The Challenges of Change in Africa

22 September, 2009

So do rapidly expanding church planting movements grow disciples or just gather crowds?

Let’s take a look at what happened in Rwanda. Here’s the email traffic with David Watson. . .

Hi David

I noticed on your blog that you’ve been to Rwanda.

I’ve had some thoughtful mission leaders question the effectiveness of church planting movements in Africa. The concern is that a country like Rwanda was predominantly “Christian” and yet experienced genocide.

Do you have any wisdom on this?

Steve

Hi Steve

One of the problems we face globally is cultural Christianity. Africa seems to have this disease a little worse than some other places. In cultural Christianity we find high public visibility of religion that is so compartmentalized in the lives of the people that they can literally go to a Bible study and plot genocide.

This is nothing new. The 8th Century BC Prophets of Israel dealt with the same issues – People who looked highly religious, but had no concept of obedience to God. See Amos 5:21-24.

Church planting definitely did not fail in Africa. Every denomination and independent church has succeeded in replicating their brand of church. What has failed is Gospel Planting and obedience-based discipleship. We have made converts to various flavors of religion, but we have failed to make disciples who know the mind of Christ and obey him regardless of the consequences.

I have invested the past five years in Africa. We focus on discipling people to conversion in a way that produces obedient disciples of Christ.

We have seen more than 10,000 new churches and 400,000 new disciples. The pattern is about social networks receiving the Gospel and becoming obedient.

So, I think the answer to the question posed is that the critics are right. But it is not church planting that failed. It was a methodology that did not take into account social networks, did not require obedience to the Word but adherence to a religion, and did not transform communities from the inside out but imposed leadership and practices from the outside in.

Much of what I see in Africa is a false movement that is fueled from overseas, and has been propped up for several hundred years. We are avoiding these situations to start new work. The ones God touches from the old work come and join us, but we have learned it is not possible for man to impact the old Africa churches.

There must be new Africa churches that are established using the principles from you book with a strong emphasis on obedience-based discipleship.

Hope this helps.

Blessings!

David Watson

David’s blogs on church planting movements: www.davidlwatson.org and www.cpmtr.org

An Atheist Argues that Africa Needs God »

The following article by atheist Matthew Parris, a columnist for the TIMESONLINE, describes his view of how Christianity is critical to African development. The article illustrates the contagious nature of a Christianity that blends proclamation and demonstration–that calls for submission to a King and works for the building of his Kingdom. — Jay

From The Times

December 27, 2008

As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God

Missionaries, not aid money, are the solution to Africa’s biggest problem – the crushing passivity of the people’s mindset

by Matthew Parris

Before Christmas I returned, after 45 years, to the country that as a boy I knew as Nyasaland. Today it’s Malawi, and The Times Christmas Appeal includes a small British charity working there. Pump Aid helps rural communities to install a simple pump, letting people keep their village wells sealed and clean. I went to see this work. Read the rest

Social Impact — Changing Africa and Us »

” Some areas of “social impact” should have NO handouts, in fact they can stifle change, others need some “capacity building” = teaching to fish for free, and others just need fish because if they don’t eat today they’ll die.”

— Pete Bremberg

Water? »

THIRST

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: design crisis)

The Miracle of Plumpynut »

Here a link to one Families for Africa’s strategy to tap into this miracle.

Let’s Dance »


Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

The Girl Effect »

What Sara Saw? »

What happens when God gets ahold of a family? »

Chris and Lisa have a big dream. Chk out their latest post and listen to his message. Amazing.

Transformational Development »

Transformational Development Conference

Food for the Hungry is sponsoring a conference at George Fox University on August 14-16. Would love to attend, but can’t right now. Can someone else go and blog here on what they’ve learned? As I read thru the description of the term “transformational development,” I found it related to our vision and mission for Families for Africa. Read thru the excerpt below. It will help us learn to become “true agents of transformation” in our adopted countries.

A world movement has gained profile recently whose stated goal is the end of extreme poverty. With growing optimism its champions assert that advances in development science and technology make this a realistic possibility for this generation (Sachs 2005). As Christians we respond to the much older call to live out the Kingdom of God and embrace a deeper hope in Christ’s redemption of the world.

Our goal is more than just the absence of extreme material poverty, but for people to discover their true identity as children of God and recover their true vocation as productive stewards faithfully caring for the world and all the people in it (Myers 1999).

  • How then should our faith integrate with the ways we both engage in and educate for international development?
  • How do we go about development in a posture of Christian witness, responding in obedient faith to the only true Agent of transformation?

Transformational Development is a term that many are quick to use to describe their programs, organizations and interventions. Christian academics and practitioners use the term to signify a holistic integration of faith and development and to distinguish it from models that are secular or simply dichotomist in their application. The terminology, while helpful, has not yet resulted in consensus around the criteria for, frameworks of, and proven approaches to doing transformational development. The danger remains that unless we can differentiate between what is and is not transformational development, it will be just another Christian label used to justify whatever we happen to be doing.

If we say we are in the business of transformational development then we must acknowledge the demands placed upon us by the promise the term connotes. The goal is positive change in the whole of human life materially, socially and spiritually (Myers 1999). It is not sufficient for evangelism and social involvement to occur simultaneously. Our gospel proclamation has social consequences, and our social involvement has evangelistic consequences (Campbell 2005; the Micah Declaration on Integral Mission).

Transformational development’s distinctives should be found across the spectrum, impacting not just motivations but operations, not just where we go or send but the posture with which we walk.

Transformation suggests an end-to-end focus, not just on the poor whom we seek to serve but the poor who are doing the serving. And it promises radical ongoing change in not just our scope of activities but also our outcomes aligned with sound biblical theology.

We seek to move beyond definition to interpretation of transformational development, building sound academic foundations for both those engaging in and educating for Christian development.