It was clear as Sir Bob spoke that the continent of Africa is critical to the question of global food security. He told us that its borders contain 60% of the world’s arable land which is vital for producing the crops needed to feed the swelling population of the world, particularly of those nation-states categorized as developing. He pointed out that consequently the political stability of Africa is paramount. He noted the increase of democratic countries in Africa from just 9 in the 1980’s to 19 today and the interviewer said, “So you’re optimistic about Africa?” Sir Bob replied that he was, with two caveats. They were the rising influence of Wahabism in the north and “fundamentalist Christianity pushing up from the south”. These two factors were the only things he mentioned which mitigated his optimism for the political stability of what is certainly to become the Garden of the World.
Wouldn’t it be great if Sir Bob (and the rest of the world) could see the spread of Christians as a reason to be optimistic rather than cause for pessimism? And yet, I wonder if that’s actually possible? Jesus didn’t engender universal optimism by his presence. Some shouted “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” at his arrival while others shouted “Away with him! Crucify him!” at his departure. Some had even shouted both within the same week. I suppose we should expect the same for those who wear his name. In the end, I guess that what’s true of people in general is true of Christians in particular. They spread joy wherever they go: some by coming and others by leaving.