Thursday, February 25, 2010

Is It a Waste of Time if they don't Convert to Christianity?

Here is a question posted today at the Christianity Today blog:
If you aided someone for years and years and they never became a Christian, would you consider your efforts wasted?
The back story for this question is an AP report that appeared out of Haiti regarding tensions between evangelical Christians and practitioners of Voodoo. The story included these comments by Frank Amedia of Touch Heaven Ministries: “We would give food to the needy in the short term but if they refused to give up Voodoo, I'm not sure we would continue to support them in the long term because we wouldn't want to perpetuate that practice. We equate it with witchcraft, which is contrary to the Gospel.”

As it turns out the AP report took the comments of Mr. Amedia way out of context and he issued a clarification which you can read on the CT blog post. But he did say that eventually or "long term" as he says, his ministry might stop feeding them if they continued to practice Voodoo.

Hence we get the question from CT about whether our efforts would be "wasted" if we didn't get a conversion. This kind of question is a reminder to me of one of the many reasons I am not an evangelical Christian. I don't even understand the question. If I fed someone who lost everything in an earthquake and they didn't starve to death I would consider my mission accomplished. If I needed to keep feeding them for years in order to keep them from starving I would do it without question and not consider my efforts wasted regardless of whether they ever converted to my faith or not.

I am reminded of going to an evangelism training session many years ago put on by someone in our denomination. The topic was friendship evangelism and they showed a movie where Christians befriended their neighbors in order to get them to convert. Their motives weren't subtle; they - the actors playing Christians in the movie - talked about them in their table conversation as they plotted their strategy with their neighbors. Let's be friends with our neighbors so we can get them to convert. Let's have them over for dinner, go golfing with them, spend as much time as it takes to soften them up and when the moment is right pop the salvation question. I came home from the session feeling like I needed to take a shower.

I am not opposed to sharing my story when someone asks "why are you doing this.?" But the reason I am doing this - feeding the hungry, helping to rebuild homes after floods, sending money or Church World Service kits to Haiti, etc. - is because it is the right thing to do. It is what Christians do; it is what people of other faiths and no faiths do too. With no ulterior motives. I have been blessed. Out of the blessings I have experienced I want to help out others who are in need. It is that simple.

BTW it has been my experience that the AP is a really unreliable source for news, whether it is local, national or international.

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