Mission and Education in Africa
24 May 2017
• Diocese of Mwanza
The command of the Lord Jesus Christ to His Holy Apostles and, by extension, to the Church and every single Christian, was clear: “Go therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matt. 28: 19-20). This command is the starting point and the guideline of every missionary effort of the apostolic Church throughout the centuries. It is also clear that the command of Christ relates to a teaching-learning relationship between the evangelical message conveyors (“everything I have commanded you”), and the recipients of this message (“all nations”).
The Church is called to incarnate and teach the great, admittedly, mystery of godliness (1 Tim. 3:16), and the nations are called to become disciples and be initiated into the mystery. The teaching process is laborious, requires suitable and favorable conditions, deposition of blood and spirit on the part of both participants in the teaching-learning process, which can be lifelong, perennial, until it reaches Christocentricity (i.e., Christ-centeredness) and Christoethics, always by the grace of God.
This is therefore the very essence of Mission. The reason, the activities, the visions of the missionary work of the Church should constitute its very existence. Only then will the results be pleasing to God and beneficial to the present and the eternal future of those people of the world who hunger and crave for the Truth and the Light.
In her course the Church preaches, catechizes, admonishes, is evangelized by her word and deed, using forms and terms of this world, to which she gives a whole new dimension and depth. The conditions of the various peoples are considered and exploited in the best possible way in order to become the tools of sowing the seed of God’s Word, i.e., of Christ. This path is the uninterrupted Incarnation of the Son of God in the hearts of His children.
In the case of Africa, and not only, the missionary plough is called to proceed slowly and very carefully, and spend a lot of time and effort preparing the ground which fell to its lot. It first needs to develop culture and then transform it and make it Christ-centered. The road to civilization has always passed through education. Therefore, it would be no exaggeration to say that in the African reality before the Mission builds, organizes and operates a church, it should build, organize and operate a school.
Once again, it is on the school-church pair that we are left to build our missionary visions and orientations.
From the Holy Metropolis