(Dr. Pipim’s Good News From Africa—Part 1)
Of all my travels around the world, and in all my work over the years to advance the Kingdom of God, my most recent trip to Ethiopia (January/February 2016) is by far the most spiritually remarkable, impactful, and humbling! I was invited to Ethiopia for an “Africa Arise” Conference and an African Heads of State Prayer Breakfast at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
It was humbling to see Christian believers of all walks of life, totally committed to living lives of holiness and integrity, and passionate about sharing their faith—to the best of their knowledge and ability—wherever they are in the public sphere. I also witnessed a deep hunger for the Word of God and the opening of new doors for the proclamation of the everlasting Gospel on the continent of Africa. It’s why I title this report “Good News from Africa.”
A little over a week ago, I requested your prayers for our trip to Ethiopia. I informed you that representatives of the two Centers for Leadership Development under our EAGLESonline organization had been invited to a series of engagements in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia and the headquarters of the African Union (AU). The engagements included:
(i) a request to speak at an annual “Africa Arise” Conference;
(ii) an invitation to attend a special African Heads of State Prayer Breakfast at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa;
(iii) a series of private meetings with some influential African leaders who are committed to transforming Africa (they include some leading political and religious leaders, as well as some leaders of organizations engaged in youth development & empowerment).
I’m here to report to you that the Lord has answered your prayers on our behalf—and has far exceeded our wildest expectation. Although we still have three more days before we conclude our trip here in Addis, I thought I should share with you what the Lord has done so far and to express my heartfelt gratitude for all your prayers on our behalf.
In this part 1 of the “Good News from Africa” report, I will focus on the “Africa Arise” Conference. I will explain what it was all about, explain this year’s conference theme, mention the principal speakers, the program’s schedule of events, a summary of my presentation, and a final reflection on the conference.
Subsequent reports will highlight other aspects of the trip to Ethiopia—namely, (i) the African Heads of State Prayer Breakfast at the AU headquarters, (ii) the visit with the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church & to some historical and religious sites in Ethiopia, and (iii) our interaction with one of the most active Christian youth & young adult groups in Africa—and perhaps the world.
“AFRICA ARISE” CONFERENCE REPORT (Good News From Africa—Part 1)
This was the first time I have attended an “Africa Arise” conference, a special conference organized for Africans from different denominational backgrounds who genuinely seek the spiritual and social transformation of their continent.
I was approached in September last year (2015) by the leader of the “Africa Arise Network,” after I spoke at a special Ethiopian New Year Prayer Breakfast for the diplomatic community in Addis Ababa. The leader, Dr. Betta Mengistu, met me at the African Union headquarters to explain the vision of the Africa Arise Network and to request that I attend this year’s (2016) Africa Arise conference.
WHAT THE AFRICA ARISE NETWORK IS ABOUT
The Africa Arise conference is a yearly event that is conducted by the “Africa Arise Network” alongside the annual African Heads of States Summit in Ethiopia. Hosted by Beza International Ministries in Addis Ababa, attendees to the conference come from different African countries and represent different religious persuasions and professional backgrounds. They meet to report on activities in their different locations, share ideas, and network with one another.
The Mission Statement of the Africa Arise Network reads:
“Africa Arise Network is a movement established for the purpose of combatting Africa’s unique challenges from a Biblical perspective. Our programs are designed to effect change, empower people, and to see the continent fulfill her potential. We envision nations redeemed in righteousness, and the hands of begging turned to hands of blessing.”
The operative word is “a Biblical perspective.” It is a network of Africans who’re committed to letting the Word of God diagnose and provide answers to the unique challenges confronting Africa.
While promoting a spiritual foundation as the basis for Africa’s rise, the name “Africa Arise” is employed (i) as a clarion call upon all well-meaning Africans—whether on the continent or in the Diaspora— to rise up and do something for their continent; (ii) as a special call upon all Bible-believing African Christians, to respond to their calling as “the light of the world” and to shine on their continent that had been darkened by all kinds of social and spiritual ills.
I believe I was approached by the organizers of the Africa Arise conference because they felt I met these two criteria.
THE “AFRICA ARISE” NAME
Believing that “righteousness [i.e., just principles and actions] exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34), those who elect to be part of the Africa Arise Network seek to positively influence the African continent by their lives, actions, and witness.
Members of the network believe that NOW is Africa’s time to rise (Isaiah 60:1-3)—to rise and make a positive difference in every area of life (whether in business, education, government, media, arts & entertainment, religion, or family).
Not only that, they also maintain that, already, Africa is rising—i.e., lives are already being changed and the continent is being transformed—because of the work being done by those who have embraced the vision of the Africa Arise Network. Thus, the “Africa Arise” name also affirms that, because Africa is rising, Christian believers who truly care about their continent should join hands in the effort of re-building their continent.
The spiritual approach of the Africa Arise Network must be distinguished from secular movements that have also embraced versions of the “Africa is rising” narrative. For example, there is a popular narrative in certain quarters which believes that the current average of 6-7% GDP growth in African economies evidences that “Africa is rising.” (An African business leader and thinker, Ali A. Mufuriki of Tanzania, has offered an insightful critique of this economic narrative that “Africa is rising”. Listen to his provocative TEDxEuston talks at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjgJ2KpyJ5w
In contrast to secular or humanistic approaches to Africa’s development, the Africa Arise Network seeks a spiritual means to address issues on the continent. Theirs is a call upon well-meaning African Christians to rally together to offer a spiritual approach to issues facing the continent—an approach that is often missing in much of the diagnoses and prescriptions to Africa’s ills.
This is why the Africa Arise Network invites to its conferences only those who are known to be African “Christian thinkers and doers” to share their respective perspectives on crucial issues facing the continent.
The background of attendees is usually a mix of Pentecostal, Evangelical, traditional Protestant, and Ethiopian Orthodox traditions. This mingling affords a rich diversity of perspectives to draw from and engenders warmth and fellowship. (Roman Catholics were noticeably absent at this conference, apparently because their church has its own well-developed approach to social issues).
THE 2016 CONFERENCE THEME
This year’s Africa Arise conference (January 27-31, 2016) was under the theme: “ENGAGE.” As explained in the program brochure, “this year’s theme is ENGAGE—a short form of ‘Engaging with our Destiny.’ The main task was to explore ways to “define the moral destiny of our continent.”
In other words, the focus of this year’s conference was on ethics or morality and the role of the Christian church to practice and promote it. The relevance of the theme (“defining the moral destiny of Africa”) can best be appreciated if one realizes that the same subject of ethics and morality was also at the heart of discussions at this year’s African Union’s Heads of State summit at the AU headquarters (January 21-31, 2016).
The theme of the AU summit was "2016: African Year of Human Rights with Particular Focus on the Rights of Women.” Besides issues on human rights, the Heads of States’ Summit was also expected to deliberate and pass resolutions on important issues of peace and security, development, and integration in the African continent.
Thus, while African political leaders who were meeting at the AU headquarters were addressing “Human Rights” and other related ethical issues, the “Africa Arise” Conference sought to “Engage” in the same kind of discussion, but doing so by offering a Christian perspective on the subject.
In short, the Africa Arise conference focused on ethics or morality in order to equip the Christian attendees to understand, clarify, and define what their roles ought to be in an Africa that is beginning to battle with ideological pluralism and moral relativism. The program brochure aptly explains the urgency of the task:
“Traveling is accessible and the Internet has made sharing ideas easier than ever. The individual, the family, and community in general are taking the heat of being redefined and restructured. Changes are happening fast. No culture is left isolated and no nation can say ‘my borders’ are closed to change. Nations and generations are in fierce battle for their moral destiny. Diversity is demanding political correctness and tolerance is giving way to compromise. In the process, many enduring moral values and universally accepted convictions are eroded and those who refuse to ally, are marginalized.
“Indeed, Africa is at a crossroad of its moral destiny. Godly or otherwise, accepted or not, the African church is the sole divine agent with the mandate to define and establish a Godly moral destiny for this continent. While our political and economic leaders are attempting to define other elements of our destiny, we come together to reflect, pray and consider strategies to define our moral destiny and reset the global moral agenda.”
For Conference attendees, the program brochure explained that “this year’s conference is designed equip us with tools to engage with our destiny, and allow God’s purposes for our time to come to pass.”
The lineup of this year’s Africa Arise presenters and respondents included some of the most influential Christian voices on the continent. Amongst them were CEOs of companies, bankers, diplomats & government officials, journalists and media personnel, graphic designers, musicians and dancers, church growth specialists, theologians, youth leaders, and pastors.
Although all the professional presentations in the different fields of society were undergirded by Christian assumptions, some of the presentations were more biblical or theological in nature. I will briefly list the names of those whose presentations were more devotional or homiletical in nature, while giving more details about the backgrounds of the few presenters that I had the opportunity to be more intellectually engaged with during the brief duration of the Conference.
I will briefly mention the following speakers:
· Pastor Zerubbabel Mengistu (Ethiopia)—Senior pastor of Beza International Church in Addis Ababa.
· Bishop Tudor Bismark (Zimbabwe)—Senior pastor of New Life Covenant Church in Harare, Zimbabwe
· Apostle Robert Kassaro (Swaziland)—Senior pastor of Jesus Calls Worship Center in Matsapha, Swaziland
· Tomi Daniel (Nigeria)—Program Director of EAGLESonline, and Africa Coordinator of ANANSE (Africa Network & Advisory for Needed Services & Excellence).
· Apostle Linda Gobodo (South Africa)—Founder and Chairperson of Vuka Africa Foundation, Roodepoort, South Africa
· Bishop Dr. Bernard Nwaka (Zambia)—Founder and Presiding Bishop of Living Waters Global Churches and Restoration Bible Churches in Cameroon, Tanzania, the UK, the USA, and South Africa.
· Dr. Mamusha Fenta (Ethiopia)—Bible expositor and regular conference speaker and teacher in the fast growing University Fellowships of Ethiopia.
· Rick Seaward (Singapore)—Founding Pastor and Overseer of Victory Family Centre in Singapore & Co-chairman of the National Prayer Alliance as well as Together in Transformation.
In addition to the above named presenters, the lineup of speakers also included the following influential thinkers and authors with whom I was more theologically engaged during the course of the Africa Arise conference:
1. Rev. Dr. David Oginde, (Kenya)
Currently serves as the Chancellor and Chair of the Governing Council for Pan Africa University in Nairobi, Kenya. He’s also the President of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Africa and Vice-Chair of the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya. He is the presiding Bishop of "Christ Is the Answer Ministries” (CITAM), a Church ministry focused on reaching the urban communities in Kenya, Africa, and the rest of the world. CITAM currently has over 45,000 members in 10 congregations. He holds a PhD in Organizational Leadership from the School of Business and Leadership, Regent University, USA. (You may want to watch a 6-minute video of his prayer at the inauguration of the President and Vice-President of Kenya https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRy...
2. Bishop Dr. Joshua H.K. Banda (Zambia)
Currently serves as Chancellor of City University College of Science and Technology in Zambia and also as a member of the University of Lusaka Advisory Board. Dr. Banda has served on several national delegations to the UN General Assembly Special Sessions. He has many published and unpublished works on social justice, HIV/AIDS, human rights, and community transformation. He is the Overseer/Senior Pastor of Northmead Assembly of God in Lusaka, Zambia, & President of the Southern Africa Region Chapter of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Africa, overseeing the work of over 4,000 congregations. He holds a PhD in Theology and is in the final stages of completing his second doctorate in Social Science at the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies. Since 2010, his “Liberating Truth” TV Programs has peaked to nearly 5 million viewers. (For a 5- minute video interview, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4IKCzgpBno
3. Dr. Mehret Debebe (Ethiopia/USA)
Dr Mehret Debebe is a board certified psychiatrist and Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He is a leading thinker in the areas of Transformation and Transformed Mind. Currently he practices psychiatry both in Ethiopia and the USA. As a General Practitioner in Ethiopia, Dr. Mehret has worked at Hurso Army Camp Hospital as a Physician and Deputy Medical Director. He earned his M.D from Addis Ababa University. His specialty training is in Psychiatry, which he completed from St Louis University School of Medicine, USA. He has published several articles on peer reviewed international journals and book chapters on specialized psychiatric textbooks. A frequent guest on several radio and TV shows, he is passionate about mindset change, strongly believing it is the KEY to both individual and societal transformation.
4. Dr. Delanyo Adadevoh (USA/Ghana)
He’s the Chairman of the African Forum on Religion and Government [AFREG], & Founder & President of the International Leadership Foundation [ILF]. Since 1980 he has served in many capacities for Campus Crusade for Christ (known in the USA as CRU). In 1990, Dr. Adadevoh was appointed vice president of Africa, Middle East and Central Asia. Based in Florida, USA, he currently serves as Campus Crusade’s Vice President for Area Team Leaders. He holds a PhD in Interpretation Theories at Leeds University (UK). He’s published 10 books, the most recent being “Empowering Leadership for Transforming Africa.”
(For a 9-minute video of his work with African government leaders through AFREG, see, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5kIArV6nWg
5. Dr. Samuel Koranteng-Pipim (USA/Ghana)
I was invited to the Africa Arise Conference because of my work as a Christian theologian and author, leadership trainer, advocate for grassroots youth empowerment, and promoter of “mind liberation” as the basis of transformational social and spiritual change on the continent of Africa. I was also invited because of the impact of my published works on Africa (“The Transformed Mind,” “Africa Must Think,”
& “The African Giant”
) and of our work at EAGLESonline in engaging African students, young professionals, and (recently) thought leaders in the work of spiritual renewal and the transformation of Africa. (For more, see, http://eaglesonline.org/about-us/te...
WHERE DID I FIT IN?
I had mentioned earlier that a majority of the “Christian thinkers and doers” who spoke and participated at the Africa Arise conference were from the Evangelical-Pentecostal background, with a significant few from the traditional Protestant and Ethiopian Orthodox traditions. It was a warm melting pot of distinctive worship and theological expressions of the different groups represented, some of which were unusual for my more conservative Protestant background.
But I resonated with all the attendees and presenters, bound by the common thread of genuine love for Christ, respect for Scriptures, ready commitment to revival and Christian discipleship, passion for Africa’s transformation and development, and burden to win lost souls for Christ. All these were demonstrated by making missions a priority of the Church.
In the midst of the hectic schedule, it was a pleasant surprise to discover another brother, Dr. Adadevor. We share a lot in common and spent more time together catching up on a wide range of topics. Though we had never met prior to Addis, we’re both Ghanaians by birth, and both currently based in the USA.
In addition, until our meeting at the Africa Arise conference in Addis, I didn’t know that,
· We both attended the same university in Ghana—Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST); we were just two years apart. We even lived in the same residential hall of the university.
· We both also experienced remarkable conversions during the time we studied at that university.
· We both received our calling to full time gospel ministry while at KNUST (he studied chemistry and I did engineering).
· Even more, we both felt a call to the specialized ministry of outreach to public university students. Whereas his journey took him through Campus Crusade for Christ, mine went through CAMPUS and now EAGLESonline.
· Although currently living in the Diaspora, we both have a passion for Africa’s transformation, making our voices heard on issues pertaining to the transformation of the African continent.
· Our approaches tend to be more distinctly Protestant-Evangelical. (He’s a Presbyterian and I am a Seventh-day Adventist).
There’s a difference between us, though. For one, he’s very tall (which is more typical of Nigerians than Ghanaians), whereas I am of an average Ghanaian height. Moreover, his work of African transformation tends to engage African Heads of State, government officials, and policy makers, while mine tends to be focused on grassroots youth training, empowerment, and leadership development.
Another way of stating the difference is that, because he’s very tall he engages the higher-ups of society; but I, because I’m much shorter I enjoy working at the grassroots. Perhaps this may partly explain why he’s very calm in his demeanor and articulation. He has to! For, those who deal with government officials and diplomats must be calm and wise, while individuals who work at the grassroots tend to be more charged-up and activistic.
Seriously, though, it was a very pleasant surprise to discover Dr. Adadevoh. He is a Christian thinker and leader! I was privileged to receive from him an autographed copy of a just-released 335-page book he edited and titled “Empowering Leadership for Transforming Africa.” In return, he went home with four of my works, including “The Transformed Mind: Changing the World By Being Changed” (304 pages), which I co-authored with an influential Ghanaian and mutual friend (Dr. Joyce Aryee).
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS AT THE CONFERENCE
The Africa Arise Conference was carefully planned and consisted of devotional messages, music, poetry, sermons, seminars & panel discussions, and networking opportunities. Each day had a different emphasis. Here’s the schedule of each day’s events:
DAY 1: Wednesday, January 27, 2016 (Theme: “The Africa Arise Business Forum.”)
This event highlighted Christian business people and investors from across the continent. The forum sought to promote best practices of biblical ethics in business, while facilitating intra-Africa trade and investment. It featured some Africans who are transforming business, banking, and industry, sharing their accounts of how biblical integrity can have a strategic advantage in Africa. It included national performance reports, plans, and projections, and concluded with the challenge to actively pursue integrity in the market place, especially when surrounded by corrupting influences.
I was greatly inspired—and encouraged to know that Christians of integrity can succeed in the market place, despite the corrupting influences around them. And while some of those at the Africa Arise conference are doing extremely well in their businesses and fields of practice, I was humbled by their humility, selflessness, and sacrificial commitment to the cause of evangelism.
DAY 2: Thursday, January 28, 2016 (Theme: “Defining Our Moral Destiny as a Continent.”)
This day was designed to make a biblical case for (i) “a strong moral foundation” as the bedrock of all other visible structures in society (family, schools, government, media, etc.), and (ii) the Church’s mandate and responsibility to shape society with righteousness, justice, and Godly values. As explained in the program brochure, the goal of Day 2 was to clearly show why and how “if Africa has to arrive at its destination and be a blessing to others, it needs the strongest foundation that will carry and guide its generations to come.”
Attendees were richly blessed on that day with some very insightful presentations and stimulating panel discussions. I was privileged to be one of the two principal presenters that helped on that day to define Africa’s moral destiny (For a summary of my presentation, see, below, the section titled “Engaging to Define Our Moral Destiny”).
DAY 3: Friday, January 29, 2016 (Theme: “Engaging in Social Change”)
On the third day of the Africa Arise Conference, an attempt was made to meaningfully engage with some of the critical challenges of our day: Who speaks for the widows and the orphans? What about the sick and the elderly, the refugees and outcasts? How does the Church engage society on these questions? How does the church balance its social responsibility with its mandate for missions?
The above questions were taken up in a panel discussion that day, bringing together different professionals who are at the forefront of social engagement—a retired United Nations diplomat, two influential pastors whose churches are actively involved in reaching out to the marginalized & needy, and a Canadian missionary who has worked in Africa for 33 years).
Of note is the fact that, though not originally in the program, two of us who represented EAGLESonline organization were invited to participate in the panel discussion. One of us (our Program Director and African Coordinator), who has a background in community development was drafted there to show how we can engage in social change through “community service,” while I (the Director) was to share how we can effect social change through grassroots youth involvement, and writing.
Both the presentations and panel discussion on Day 3 (“Engaging in Social Change”) were stimulating and electrifying. Based on the responses from attendees, I believe that the presence of the EAGLESonline representatives offered a most valuable contribution to the discussion.
The day ended with a powerful challenge from Rick Seaward, a guest speaker from Singapore, urging the Church to make missions a priority. (Rick Seaward is the founding pastor and Apostolic Overseer of Victory Family Centre in Singapore and Apostolic Advisor to 10,000+ churches planted by his church in over 90 nations around the world. He has recently challenged his church with a 10-year vision and strategy to see 100,000 churches planted with 5 million believers in more than 150 nations! Within Singapore, he is co-chairman of the National Prayer Alliance as well as Together in Transformation).
Day 4: Saturday, January 30, 2016 (Theme: “Engaging African Heads of States & Youth”)
There were two special events on Saturday. In the morning, a select group, comprising all the Conference speakers/presenters, as well as representatives from the nations present (33 African countries & 16 European and Asian countries) were invited to the African Union headquarters for a special Prayer Breakfast on the occasion of the AU’s 26th Heads of State Summit. (I’ll share more on this in my next report).
In the evening there was a special event—billed as “Worship Concert/Youth Night.” Every attendee wore the Conference’s “Engage” T-shirt for this event. The concert featured active youths from different African countries who showcased how music, dance, poetry, etc. can be instruments for transformational change in Africa.
On the whole, it was a very enlightening and uplifting event, although coming from a traditional Protestant background, at times the performance looked more like Christian entertainment than a worship concert. My favorite part of the Youth Night was the traditional music from the Ethiopian Orthodox church tradition. (I’ll try to get a video clip to share in a future posting). Our EAGLESonline Program Director rounded up the musical concert with a short, inspirational Bible study on what God expects from the African youth attendees, given how they had been empowered by the Conference.
The day ended with an uplifting message by Apostle Robert Kassaro, challenging all Africans to prepare to run with the baton of Africa's development that is about to be passed on to the continent.
Day 5: Sunday, January 31, 2016 (Theme: “Engaged in Worship”)
This was the final day, and the occasion showcased Christian worship within the context of African culture—more specifically the Ethiopian Orthodox Church tradition. We were privileged to listen to a live performance by the famous Yetsidk Tsehay Choir a piece called “Haleluya” (available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lnLMpoD_Xk8
Two other special features of the worship service were presentations by the youth on “Engaging the Youths to Media in Our Moral Destiny.” Two young people (a final year communications students at Addis Ababa University—Wongel Abebe—and a young professional media specialist from Zambia—Ryan Banda) challenged the adults to give space to the youth in the work. (I’ll share the video at a later time).
The worship concluded with a powerful sermon by Bishop Tudor Bismark of Zimbabwe, considered by some as “the TD Jakes of Africa.” His well-crafted sermon was titled “Tricks & Schemes.” It was an inspiring message that traced God's incredible plan to restore and empower humanity, from when Adam and Eve fell to when Christ's died and triumphantly resurrected. It’s one of the best sermons I have heard preached by a Pentecostal minister on what Seventh-day Adventists refer to as “the Great Controversy” theme in Scripture.
ENGAGING TO DEFINE OUR MORAL DESTINY
You recall I mentioned that on Day 2 (Thursday) I was one of the two main speakers tasked with making a biblical case for “Engaging to Define Our Moral Destiny.” (The other speaker was Dr. Mehret Debebe, a board certified consultant psychiatrist). Both of us, from our different backgrounds and experiences, were to argue for “a strong moral foundation” as the bedrock of all other visible structures in African society. Or as stated in the program brochure, “if Africa has to arrive at its destination and be a blessing to others, it needs the strongest foundation that will carry and guide its generations to come.”
Dr.Mehret did a masterpiece of a job, by arguing that in our world of moral relativism—a world in which black and white issues have been painted into shades of gray—it is only through “an awakened conscience” that we can find divinely ordained moral values to engage the world. He therefore argued for “Awakening the African conscience” so we can be the Noah’s, Josephs, Daniels, John the Baptists, etc. of our time.
His presentation is, perhaps, the most biblically-sound treatment I’ve listened to on the topic of the “conscience.” It, however, raised some important questions:
· What happens when there is a clash of consciences? When one person feels one way on an issue (based on his “awakened” conscience) and another feels differently (also based on her “awakened” conscience)?
· Isn’t there an objective, universal moral standard (a set of moral norms, values, principles or laws) for us to appeal to that is higher than our individual and collective consciences?
· Has God given definitive clarity by way of a universally-binding moral guide that is higher than the sometimes murky realm of human conscience? If so, where can it be found in Scripture?
Dr. Mehret’s insightful presentation, as well as the questions arising from it, provided a good background for me to later pursue the topic “Engaging to Define Our Moral Destiny,” when it was my turn to make my presentation at the Africa Arise conference. This, I did later in the evening, in a message I titled “The Gold From the Two Mountains: Rediscovering Africa’s Lost Currency.”
In that message, I made my case for an objective, universally-binding moral standard which is the highest standard we can appeal to. I argued that God has bequeathed to Africans “the gold from the two mountains” (the Golden Rule, which a shorter version of the Ten Commandments) as the moral currency to conduct all our engagements.
Here is a summary of how I made the case in my presentation titled “The Gold From the Two Mountains: Rediscovering Africa’s Lost Currency”:
1. Statement of the Problem: Moral relativism has plunged Africa and the world into a crisis. This week’s thought nugget summarizes the problem:
THE VALUE OF VALUES: Are there unchangeable, universal moral values to guide human conduct? Today, “everything is relative,” including values. Moral relativism is the crisis of our times. The crisis is not the violation of morally-accepted standards of conduct (every age has had its share of this). Rather, the crisis is the questioning of the existence of universal moral values to define what’s right and wrong. But if “everything is relative,” then that statement itself is relative and, hence, self-refuting. Worse, “a world without values quickly becomes a world without value” (Jonathan Sacks). It’s why for our ethics we must value what God values. (Micah 6:8; Matthew 7:12; Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14; Exodus 20:1-3; Romans 2:14-15; James 2:8-13; John 14:15).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
2. The answer to the problem is found by, first rediscovering God’s moral values, clearly stated by Christ in the Golden Rule (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”). This is a law or principle of love that most people—whether religious or non-religious—can embrace. It is the most “loving” thing anyone can do.
3. But, according to Christ, the Golden Rule, the law of love—which He proclaimed in His sermon on the Mount—is itself based on “the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew7:12; cf. Luke 6:31).
4. The clearest place in the Old Testament Scriptures (“the Law and the Prophets”) that Golden Rule is clearly revealed is the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20), which Christ Himself says sums up our duty to love God and our fellow human beings (Matthew 22:37–40).
5. The same Christ who gave the Golden Rule on a Mountain is the same Person who gave the Ten Commandments on another Mountain—Mt. Sinai. So we can view the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule as “The Gold from the Two Mountains.”
6. Whether in the Old or the New Testament, Africans have a legitimate claim or heritage to this Gold from the two mountains, since (i) it was an African through whom the Ten Commandments was given, (ii) Africans are represented in the two largest tribes of Israel to whom the Ten Commandments were given, (iii) Africans provided a home for Christ in Egypt, an African carried His cross, and many believe that an African from Ethiopia was the first Gentile to be baptized.
7. Thus, in our times of moral/ethical crisis, God calls upon Africans to reclaim their moral mandate by calling the world’s attention back to the Ten Commandments (the Royal Law).
8. In short, the Moral Law or the Ten Commandments is the golden standard of morality. God bequeathed this priceless currency to us as Africans on two mountains—Mt. Sinai and the Sermon Mount. This lost legacy was—and remains—our continent’s code of ethics: Africa’s moral compass.
As the Christian’s code of conduct, the Golden Rule sets forth our responsibility towards one another. Without the Golden Rule, our nations and African continent, and indeed the whole world will be impoverished. For, gold without a Golden Rule is poverty and misery.
9. At a time when an increasing number of people in the world believe that Truth is relative (pluralism in beliefs) and that moral values are relative (moral relativism), Africa has a moral mandate to point its people and the world back to the Ten Commandments. For, in the words of Ted Koppel, the Ten Commandments are commandments; they are not Ten Suggestions. In the words of Charles H. Spurgeon, the popular nineteenth-century Baptist preacher,
“There is not a commandment too many; there is not one too few; but it is so incomparable, that its perfection is a proof of its divinity. No human lawgiver could have given forth such a law as that which we find in the Decalogue [the Ten Commandments]. It is a perfect law; for all human laws that are right are to be found in that brief compendium and epitome of all that is good and excellent toward God, or between man and man.”
10. God’s Moral Ten Commandment Law encompasses the whole duty of man: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Or as the King James Version states it, “for this is the whole duty of man.” The apostle John says, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).
In short, my presentation at the Africa Arise conference sought to call people’s attention to a loving obedience to God’s commandments. Jesus said, “if you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Regrettably, despite their claim to love Jesus, many have tried to disregard God’s Moral Ten Commandment Law.
The fundamental problem facing Africa and the world is an unwillingness to live in accordance with God’s Moral Law (1 John 3:4). This unwillingness is fundamentally a heart problem—the problem of our mind-sets or attitudes. The theological word for this is “sin.”
Stated differently, the heart of the African problem is the African heart. Thus, if our current plight should change for the better, the African heart must be transformed by the renewing of our minds so we can live in accordance with God’s will. Only Christ, through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, can transform us. This is why Africa’s greatest need is Christ.
[NOTE: The above is just a summary of my presentation at the Africa Arise conference. If needed, I can share the entire script of “The Gold From the Two Mountains: Rediscovering Africa’s Lost Currency,” my presentation at the Conference. I’ll do so when I finish the editing some time next week].
REFLECTION ON THE AFRICA ARISE CONFERENCE
Africa Arise 2016 has come and gone, but the lessons it yielded are too profound to be forgotten. In some ways, those lessons have become new marching orders for me, calling forth a renewed commitment to the cause of God in our generation. I will mention a few things I take with me from this recent trip to Ethiopia.
1. Commitment and faithfulness of attendees
There is a silent rebuilding going on in Africa, and the attendees of Africa Arise confirmed that. The innovation, strategies, and impact of the work that many are already doing was a pleasant revelation. While there, every opportunity was used to network with people from other countries. And, as I've been told happened in previous years, new bonds were formed for even bigger ventures in the continent.
In the midst of the rot, insecurity, and uncertainties that has plagued Africa, it was heartwarming to confirm that a lot of positive changes is taking place on the continent. Judging by the determination of the people that we met, I am optimistic that it is only a matter of time before this will become evident to the rest of the world.
2. Mission Emphasis
After listening to Rick Seaward, you’ll have ask yourself what you've been doing about witnessing, if you're a Christian. For me, the 10-year vision of one local church in Singapore to plant 100,000 churches with 5 million believers in more than 150 nations, puts to shame many other Christian denominations, including my own church—whether in Africa or even worldwide.
Also, the recognition that Africa's problems are not merely physical or structural, but, more importantly, spiritual gave birth to the spiritual focus of the Africa Arise conferences. The renewed emphasis on the mission component of finding the spiritual solutions to Africa's problems suggest to me that it is only a matter of time, Africa will find her way and regain her destiny.
3. The Youths.
Generally, youths are vibrant, but those at Africa Arise 2016 are phenomenal! The selflessness with which these young people worked and took care of every detail, their passion and zeal for God, their professionalism, dreams and ambitions for God are a blessing for Africa. These youths recognize themselves as the anchor of the present and the future of tomorrow. They are already in charge of a lot of responsibilities and handling these commendably. In them, Africa truly has its brightest days ahead. (In a future report, I will highlight some of the things they’re doing and their future plans).
4. Impact of Presentations.
We have received a lot of testimonies and letters that mirror our sentiments that Africa Arise is a step in the right direction. It is clear that our invitation to the event was a divine opportunity to connect with others burdened with similar visions as EAGLESonline. And whether through the presentations or the presenters, the mutual impact is undeniable.
From the testimonies and emails received so far, you can feel the pulse of the attendees that many were impacted and will not go back the same. Below is an excerpt from just one of the many emails I have received since the end of the program. It is from an attendee from Kenya.
“Ever since I interacted with you at Africa Arise I knew something changed within me, you challenged my thinking, you inspired and encouraged me. Am so grateful to God for the divine connection.
“By listening to you I could tell you are committed to excellence, determined and focused. How I desired to interact with you just to see if I can get some clarity in terms of my purpose. It was my first time to come to Africa Arise as well and my mission was to hear God about my purpose in life…
“I know am passionate about social transformation because I have tried a few short term projects which gives me such satisfaction… Deep within me I feel limited and I am aware I need to be empowered and equipped for the assignment and that’s the reason I would like to plug into your programs in order to tap into your wealth of wisdom and vast experience, lest I start giving my own “monkey solutions” as stated on one of your postcards.
“Dr. Pipim am feeling a bit stuck, I need some guidance and direction what do you have to say? My heart desire and my prayer is to find and pursue my God given purpose, be productive, fruitful and to impact generations.
“On coming back to Kenya from Addis, I searched EAGLESonline and have been listening to your messages. Have been talking to people about you as well as, sharing the postcard nuggets on WhatsApp.
“The day before yesterday I wrote to […EAGLESonline] to find out how I can get your books because to me you are my teacher I want to be mentored by the best and I know through my interaction with your resources and materials, I know am halfway there, but I still need your mentorship.
Looking forward to hearing from you in anticipation.”
5. Requests for our Resources & Invitations to other countries.
When like minds get together and are blessed by the kind of presentations we had at Africa Arise, new plans are bound to be formed! For eyes are opened, spiritual interests are awakened, and decisions are made. One does not remain the same. There’s a yearning for more.
Thus, following EAGLESonline’s participation at the Africa Arise conference, requests are literally pouring in for our training and resource materials—including our audio-visual and published works and the Spirit of Prophecy books. Sensing a kingship of spirit, some very influential and capable individuals have committed themselves to be distributors of our works in a very big way.
Additionally, many organizations—businesses, government entities, and churches—are requesting that we come and share our Bible-based and life-transforming messages with them.
For example, already our EAGLESonline team has received an invitation from one of the presenters, Rev. Dr. Banda of Zambia, for a series of speaking engagements in March during their national Youth Day—to speak not only to the youth of his churches, but also to conduct a public lecture series for the entire nation.
Similar offers have come from Dr. Oginde of Kenya, with arrangements being made not only to speak to the youth and members of his churches, but also at an Africa Arise conference some time in April/May this year for the entire nation of Kenya.
These are just a two of the many invitations that have come our way to come share the everlasting Gospel. God is opening new doors for the proclamation of the everlasting Gospel on the continent of Africa. It’s why I title this report “Good News from Africa.” Africa is truly rising!
Oh, there’s so much more to share. Subsequent reports will highlight other aspects of the trip to Ethiopia—namely, (i) the African Heads of State Prayer Breakfast at the AU headquarters, (ii) the visit with the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church & to some historical and religious sites in Ethiopia, and (iii) our interaction with one of the most active Christian youth & young adult groups in Africa—and perhaps the world.
The fields are ripe. The laborers are few. Time is short. The urgency of our times compels us to close ranks and do God’s works. In the words of E.G. White (Testimonies volume 9, pages 27 & 221),
“Time is short, and our forces must be organized to do a larger work. Laborers are needed who comprehend the greatness of the work and who will engage in it, not for the wages they receive, but from a realization of the nearness of the end. The time demands greater efficiency and deeper consecration. Oh, I am so full of this subject that I cry to God: "Raise up and send forth messengers filled with a sense of their responsibility, messengers in whose hearts self-idolatry, which lies at the foundation of all sin, has been crucified."
“If Christians were to act in concert, moving forward as one, under the direction of one Power, for the accomplishment of one purpose, they would move the world.”
May the Lord help us to understand the signs of the times, and what we ought to do.
--Samuel Koranteng-Pipim, PhD
February 5, 2016