Mr Jobs, please apply…..

Well Steve Jobs is dead. For those of you that don’t know, Steve was the former CEO of Apple Computers. What an untimely death! Most of the tributes paid to Steve today fondly remember his vision, innovation and fantastic ability to get the job done.

Innovation, i have been thinking today. Where have all the innovators gone? Where are the entrepreneurs? I like entrepreneurial people, being around them, talking to them. It gives me energy, life and vitality. These are the people who do not give up easily, if an idea fails, they find another way to do it. They’ve had 10 ideas and all of them blow out, but the 11th is a killer idea. They have that spark of God in ingenuity, creativity and most of all persistence.

My sector of work is in Christian mission. Its more than work, it’s my calling, my life. I look around though, and think where are the innovators? I’m one of the youngest missionaries I know. It bothers me sometimes, almost as if mission is something old people do after their careers. All of the ideas in mission you hear, well they’ve been tried before, they are products of a bygone time. The whole mindset in which we approach Africa, has changed little in 150 years. This surely has to change. Yesterday I was sat in the bush, watching a ZNBC broadcast on climate change. If climate change awareness is beginning in the bush, those of us in mission cannot be acting like the world is like it once was.

Now this isn’t the place for me to write some kind of manifesto on the future of mission, but sitting here in africa, some things seem obvious.

  • Mission and change has to be about those that live in the bush
  • Somebody needs to help the whites, the Chinese, the new money in Africa gain a radical social and spiritual conscience. These guys hold the key to thousands.
  • Mission has got to be about Jesus knowing people deeply, too much Christianity in Africa is essentially a selfish, me centred faith.
  • We need to recognise that the greatest danger facing the people of Africa is rampant unbridled materialism. Everyone wants to make a quick buck, and people die as a result.
  • Recognise that Jesus can use the poor to do great things
  • I’m sure there are far more than that, that’s a quick starter from me. For 150 years the church has trod the same pattern. People from Europe or America come and help the poor people of Africa. We start our projects, most of them fail and then we go home. People and situations remain unchanged. Is that really the best we and God can do?

    What the church needs is true innovation. I’m not talking about getting away or changing what we believe. We need radical, dangerous ideas enacted by radical dangerous unsettling people. we need focus to making things happen, quickly and efficiently.

    Africa needs to be won even as it slides into rampant materialism, selfishness and greed. If that happens then the poor really are stuffed. There is no market pressure pushing or profit to be made in truly helping the poor. As Africa goes more along this line, there is less incentive to help the poor, not more.

    We need people like Steve Jobs, not in the world of technology, but here in the front line, in one of the greatest fights in the world, for the very heartbeat of Africa

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