PIcture this: Africa is in the news because of its exemplary record of incorruptible officials and unselfish, visionary leaders. And because of deep-rooted peace established within and across its borders. It is capturing the attention of the world because of its universal prosperity - with every family fully fed and its natural resources and locally produced goods giving it self-sufficiency and enough excess to export. Africa is healthy, a model of ethnic and racial harmony, holding aloft a standard for the world.
No, that's not what you've been hearing on the nightly news. The pictures of day-to-day Africa show a continent of chronic problems - war, famine, disease, poor government. As South African author Alan Paton might have lamented, "Cry, the beloved continent!"
But Africa has a lot more to it than the tragedies that make headlines. The majority of its countries are at peace. People throughout the continent are living productive lives. Individuals like former South African President Nelson Mandela are role models for the world. The sharing and caring in many African communities is cause for respect.
This is all evidence that Africa is beloved and blessed by God, the Father and Mother of all nations, who supplies good universally. God's own view of this loved nation is of spiritual innocence and purity enshrined in - and as - the thoughts and hearts of all who make up the people of Africa. Whatever race, whatever tribe, whatever ethnicity, whatever income level, the people of Africa are truly the children of God, and the birthright of God's children is peace, prosperity, justice, freedom, mercy, and goodness.
Through prayer we can unite with God's view of the African people, wherever we live. We can take careful note of the news - ongoing instability in the Democratic Republic of Congo; harassment of farm owners and workers in Zimbabwe; unrest between Ethiopia and Eritrea when famine conditions cry out for attention; Sierra Leone's deadly civil war threatening to flare up again; Angola's internal conflict; Mozambique's disastrous floods; Nigeria's recent riots; the AIDS epidemic.
THEN - having taken note of all this, we can PRAY. The example Jesus set shows the healing power of prayer in the face of conditions like hunger, conflict, corruption, sickness. And we can find in prayer that the discrepancy between the bleak and bright visions of Africa is destined to be resolved in favor of the bright. Every moment of sincere prayer by anyone can aid Africa's inevitable climb out of acute and chronic problems.
An American writer on spirituality and healing, Mary Baker Eddy, felt impelled to pray for "the sick and the heavenly homesick or hungry hearts" in Africa ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," pg. 147).
Another of her writings, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," states, "From the logic of events we learn that selfishness and impurity alone are fleeting, and that wisdom will ultimately put asunder what she hath not joined together" (pg. 60). That's actually from a chapter titled "Marriage," but it applies to other types of human relations as well. The "selfishness and impurity" that are expressed in corrupt officials, despotic governments, brutal rebels, and sexual promiscuity are as fleeting as egotistical behavior patterns that undermine the happiness of a marriage. Divine wisdom will surely "put asunder" these characteristics, which God has never "joined together" with the child of His/Her creating. All men and women are truly made in the image and likeness of God, in whom there is no selfishness or impurity.
To know this is to pray. And to pray in this way will surely support the efforts of Africa's nations to put all obstructions to peace and prosperity behind them. It will help them shine untarnished in a purity and innocence to be admired by the rest of the world.
"Pray, the beloved continent." In prayer, we see spiritual purity and innocence as the real nature of all God's children, including the diverse peoples of the vast, wonderful continent of Africa.
Articles like this one appear in 13 different languages in the magazine The Herald of Christian Science.
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society