Presbyterian World Mission’s Africa Coordinator Points Out What American Christians Can Learn From African Christians

The Rev. Debbie Braaksma, Africa area coordinator for Presbyterian World Mission, preached Wednesday during worship in the Chapel at the Presbyterian Center in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Rich Copley)

Thirty-six presbyteries in the United States have formal ties with partner churches in Africa. There are good and practical reasons for that, the Rev. Debbie Braaksma told worshipers in the Presbyterian Center Wednesday.

Among them: The safety of the gospel depends on seeing how it’s lived out in other cultures.

“The gospel is never safe in any culture unless there is a witness from beyond that culture,” said Braaksma, Africa area coordinator for Presbyterian World Mission, quoting the Rev. Dr. D.T. Niles, the former executive secretary for evangelism for the World Council of Churches.

For her text Wednesday, Braaksma used 2 Timothy 1:3-14, Paul’s letter to Timothy, which opens with expressions of thanksgiving and encouragement. Paul’s letter includes these words: “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you.”

Braaksma’s sermon was the same one she wrote as a sample sermon for World Communion Sunday.

“Could a witness ‘from beyond’ help us more clearly understand this gospel and its implications for a life of faithful witness to the Lord Jesus Christ in these perilous days?” she said, noting that ties between U.S. presbyteries and African mission partners “are based on deep and lasting relationships often spanning a couple of decades.”

American Presbyterians have helped address varied human needs, including prenatal health in Niger, which has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world, and the training of pastors in Malawi, which has one Presbyterian pastor for every 7,000 laypeople.

“While sharing our resources is absolutely vital,” she said, “it is soon apparent to most Presbyterians engaged in these partnerships that receiving is every bit as important as giving … I believe that the witness from the African church can help us to more clearly see the breadth and depth of the gospel and help us to save it from being misappropriated for destructive political ends.”

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Source: Presbyterian Mission