COMMENTARY | Mark Emerson
My wife recently downloaded and played for me Scott Wesley Brown’s classic song “Please Don’t Send Me To Africa.” It brought back memories of college chapel services and the annual mission challenge to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Tammie played the song for me because as I write this, I’m getting ready to join four Illinois Baptist pastors on a mission trip to the very continent Scott Wesley Brown was praying God wouldn’t send him.
Among missiologists there is a growing debate on the effectiveness of such short-term trips. Should we really go to Africa? Here are a few insights God has laid on my heart.
First, I’m going to Africa because God commanded me to go. Some would say there really doesn’t need to be another point. God has said it and that settles it. When the Lord shared that we should “go into all the world and take the Gospel to every creature,” He wasn’t directing the challenge only to a small group of disciples at that particular time. He was including you and me. God was declaring that we are the instruments He has chosen to take the Gospel to the world.
The second reason I’m going is because there are people who need the Gospel. In Africa our team will visit UUPG’s – “Unreached, Unengaged People Groups.” These groups are less than 2% Christian and do not have an indigenous church planting strategy. Simply put, there are few believers and no churches. I have never been to a place where the Gospel hasn’t been. The privilege of being able to share the story of Jesus around the village fire to those who will hear it for the first time has captured my heart.
And finally, I’m going to Africa because it may help others to go! Many groups are unreached in our world because it is hard to get the Gospel to them. I have led numerous groups to fairly easy locations, many have gone, but we followed multitudes that had already been there.
Going to West Africa is hard. Inoculations are expensive; airfare is expensive, travel conditions are difficult, living conditions are outside our comfort zones. But millions are dying without Christ. If I go, maybe someone would be willing to go with me, or better yet, see going as not so difficult. Pastor Kevin Carrothers from Rochester First Baptist Church is going with me in hopes of helping volunteers in Capital City Association engage an unreached people group. He is going so others can go.
I may have returned by the time you read this article. If so, I would love to share with you how God opened doors and used our team to share the Gospel. I would also love to share with you how your gifts through the Cooperative Program have provided full-time IMB missionaries who are working on your behalf to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. I will get to work alongside several of our missionaries during this trip. They are anxiously awaiting the opportunity of working alongside you in Africa and all over the world. Consider going!
Mark Emerson is IBSA’s associate executive director of missions.