Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 9, 1967
NUMBER 39, PAGE 9b-10a

Dawn Over Africa

Leslie Diestelkamp

As the dawn approached we were almost seven miles high above the Atlantic Ocean, nearing the west coast of Africa. But from those lofty heights we were soon able to identify some familiar cities below. Africa! A slumbering giant. A continent whose people have recently determined to struggle upward. And they must struggle, for little will be given to them without great and painful turmoil. But struggle they do, amidst every kind of political upheaval and economic handicap.

For centuries- -even for millenniums - -these people have served others and have been used by greedy traders and by the selfish colonialists. On every other continent they have been considered as second-class citizens and as inferior beings. But this is the seventh decade of this great twentieth century! This great continent--Africa--is beginning to flex her muscles. Oh yes, she is still quite weak and unlearned, but she is no longer asleep.

Perhaps Africa is like a baby kitten. She has had her eyes closed for a long time but now she is beginning to see the world around her, and she is gradually moving out of her bed of slumber. Watch Africa. In the next two or three decades Africa will surely rise--for there is no other way she can go.


As we flew into the African dawn last August 31, we were sitting with a denominational "missionary", returning to his field of labor--he had been here before, just as we had been. His work was mostly in the institutions built by his denomination. But he complained that his "mission" often lost sight of their real purpose. He said they became so involved in the institutional work that they minimized the attention given to the eternal souls of men.

The pity is that some brethren, both here in Africa and in America and Asia, become so enthused about institutions for cultural (civilizing) benefits that these institutions soon overshadow the church in the minds of the people.

During the last one hundred years, especially, the denominations have established "missions" and built schools and hospitals over the length and breadth of Africa. And it is true that these have done a rather significant work in civilizing the people. Indeed they have been as "forerunners" for the pure gospel. Today I teach the people to believe and to obey Christ. But if it were not for the influence those "missions" have had, I would have to spend my time showing the people why they should not eat me. I am grateful for the civilizing work that has been done, and for the fruitful seed-bed that is now ready for the "good seed".


But in most of Africa today God's people have the unique opportunity to expend almost all our efforts in spiritual pursuits. Aside from some personal benevolence which we render to unfortunate people, the African challenge to us today is for the spread of saving truth. Political and intellectual freedom are coming, implemented now by the will of the determined people. But spiritual freedom can only come through the Word of God.

These people are Cultural and thirsting for learning--of any kind. Cultural and economic seed is being sown by every conceivable means and from numerous sources. In the midst of this, as the various nations rise to higher worldly levels, God's people must sow the seed of the kingdom. Then when these people are finally recognized by all as full, equal brothers to the rest of humanity, they may be able to be brothers indeed to all who really serve Christ.

The support of human institutions by the church is unscriptural. It is wrong, regardless of good that might be done. "Church institutions" are not "aids" to the true church, but they are rivals to her. Support of such institutions by the church is not a part of her mission, nor is it authorized by scripture (2 Tim. 3: 16,17)

Likewise, the devotion of time, talent and money by God's people to institutions in Africa is a waste of those abilities and such waste then constitutes neglect of "that good part" (Lk. 10:42), which we ought to be thing with all our might (2 Tim. 4:2). Individually we must each ''seek... first the kingdom of God" and the Lord has promised to supply other things. We must seek the very same for others also. God knows the physical desires and needs of these underprivileged people. He will supply. We know their spiritual necessity, and God expects us to supply it!

-U. C. I. P. O. Box 4064 Ibadan, Nigeria