My brother Tim at challies.com linked to a post by Josh Harris today who was commenting on an article he had read about writer/speaker/missionary, etc Bruce Wilkinson (Prayer of Jabez guy:) in Christianity Today magazine. The article discusses Wilkinson’s failed missionary efforts in Africa. I found the article very thought provoking/humbling so decided to include some exerts here. PLEASE READ…YOU WON’T REGRET THE FEW MOMENTS IT TAKES! (if nothing else, read the highlighted quote by Teddy Roosevelt!)
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“Given that Africa has often been a graveyard for missionaries, Bruce Wilkinson’s sad and sudden departure probably shouldn’t surprise us. In 2002, flush with celebrity, the Prayer of Jabez author determinded to use his newfound wealth and influence to address Africa’s tremendous social and spiritual problems. Eventually, his territory-enlarging vision narrowed to Swaziland, a tiny, impoverished kingdom abutting South Africa. Swaziland, with a population of 1.1 million people, has 70,000 orphans, mostly because of AIDS.
Wilkinson announced plans to start Dream for Africa (DFA), a $190 million project that would house 10,000 orphans on a 32,500-acre complex by the end of the year. The plan included a golf course, a dude ranch, abstinence training, and the planting of 500,000 small vegetable gardens. But facing hostile, misinformed accounts in the Swazi press and resistance from government officials, Wilkinson, 58, announced last fall he was leaving Africa and taking an early retirement from active ministry. The dream would continue, but in other hands and on a much smaller scale.
Still, as we critique Wilkinson’s efforts, we should remember the admonition of Teddy Roosevelt:
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly, who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, great devotions;… who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst if he fails at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
As Christ’s frail followers enter the arena, we must humbly study the culture, persist in spite of painful setbacks, and heed other’s hard-earned ministry lessons. Those who seek to serve as missionaries-whether in the 1st century or the 21st-invariably must take up their crosses. There are no shortcuts.” ~Christianity Today
P.S. From verse one of the hymn by John Bunyan entitled “He Who Would Valiant Be:”
Let him in constancy follow the Master.
There’s no discouragement shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent to be a pilgrim.