On a Friday morning recently, myself and a young man named Thabelo drove slowly through the “village” of Bungeni (population between 20-30,000) after I had spent an hour reading a satellite map of the broader area. Our purpose was to find the next area for evangelism.
That desire brought us to pass a large beautiful building with an open door in Bungeni. Having found an older man—perhaps 60—who held the position of pastor, we spoke happily for a few moments as we got to know each other. Here is a close transcript of the meat of our conversation translated back to English.
Seth [after a few minutes]: What do you preach at your church?
Pastor: We preach Christ.
Seth: I am glad to hear that. I also preach Christ. You could summarize my message with these five headings: the Bible alone, Christ alone, faith alone, grace alone, to God alone be glory. But we do not love money. We only love the Lord Jesus Christ.
Pastor: Well, we all need money. It is very important.
Seth: Yes, I agree that we need money in order to live and buy necessities, but loving money is a terrible sin that pierces men through with sorrows.
Pastor: Well, we preach the tithe and blessings.
Seth: But do your people love money?
Pastor: Well, yes, I think they do.
Seth: Do you love money?
Pastor: Yes, I have to love money.
Seth: I’m not talking about using money, but loving God. I am talking about setting your heart on cars or houses or things on earth. Does your church love those things?
Pastor: I think they do.
A few observations must be made about this encounter.
First, he did not even state any doctrines about Christ that he preaches. He did not affirm the Five Solas when I affirmed them. There was no light in his eye when I spoke of the gospel. He did not return to this theme, but he made a point more than once of speaking about money after I had denied it.
Second, he had the boldness to indict both himself and his church members for love of money though I asked him in different ways and with such terms that he could tell my position. No one likes to contradict a guest and Tsongas are just as hospitable as any other people group. Yet this man would not let his guest’s anti-money-love statements stand without opposition.
Third, I could see an American being taken in with his first statement and actually thinking this man was a Christian. The inexperienced American might reach this conclusion because he does not ask questions about the ultimate loves of the African pastor. If the American had not seen this kind of thing scores of times already, he may be excited by superficial words and familiar names. Further, if they were speaking English, the American may be generous to his new friend on account of language.
That same day, we passed another young man in Bungeni and asked what his church teaches. He replied loosely about blessings. I asked if his church taught anything different from the other churches, and he said that all the churches teach the same. As we left that young man, my friend Thabelo who has been to many churches as well agreed.
Be not deceived: Africa is still devoted to this religion regardless of the voices that speak of great revivals and as one American said “30,000 people being saved everyday.”
Would you please pray for a gospel preaching church in the town of Bungeni?