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“NGO’s Are Replacing God”

January 17, 2011

Uganda Marytrs image, Ggaba Seminary

Kampala, Uganda – We are in the city but not of it here at Ggaba Seminary, another world of green, restful grounds from the bustling capital around us, with a view of Lake Victoria. Today our fifth annual African Great Lakes Initiative gathering began – 100-plus participants, 11 countries, 11 Christian traditions.

Today’s theme: “New Creation.”

The challenge to the church? On the one hand, what a Congolese university president called the church’s “evacuation gospel.” The church in his country “is busy taking people to heaven.”

On the other hand, intense regional activity around food, water, advocacy, mediation. “NGO’s are doing the daily things now,” said one participant. He told the story of his organization (a major, Christian one) doing development projects in a remote area of Africa. Amazed by the NGO’s work the local people said “This god is more powerful than the god of the local priests.” But the name they gave the “new god” was the name of NGO.

What does a gospel of “new creation” look like? In a discussion about politics (much on minds here with Sudan’s election last week and Uganda’s next month) one Congolese participant commented, “When Martin Luther King said he had a dream his dream was not to occupy the White House.”

About the Author: Chris Rice is co-director of the Center for Reconciliation at Duke Divinity School.  He is author of Reconciling All Things, Grace Matters, and More Than Equals. He writes regularly at the blog Reconcilers.

Last 5 posts on Reconcilers:

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 19, 2011 5:46 am

    I wonder, Chris, if this is not an NGO I know very well?

  2. Rob Kilpatrick permalink
    January 19, 2011 7:30 am

    Mmm. The colonizers from various parts of the western world were able to do ‘strong medicine’ and act like gods. Not sure that was what they intended to become but probably rather grew into the role when offered. Easy enough to do. Nothing like a bit of self deception when you’re doing well. Danut, I could think of one or more NGOs that I quite like who could be drawn to that.

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