Irreligion/Atheism in South Africa and Botswana
Perhaps the irreligious are not the least-reached people in Africa, but the rising trend of atheism in Southern Africa is something the church needs to be prepared to fight against.
Did you know that 15% of the population in South Africa and 20% of the population of Botswana claim to be irreligious or atheist?
So why is this, and how can we fight back against the spread of irreligion?
A writer for the Sahara Reporters interviewed a young South African, Thamsanqa. Thamsanqa grew up in a Christian family surrounded by a number of Christian churches. As he observed churches growing up, he began to question Christianity. The predominance of false gospels caused him to drift from God and question the truth of the Bible.
“In early 2000, I had more questions than answers about God. I had time to be on my own and to live in a place where no one knew me. I attended any and every church in the city. They were all preaching prosperity. They were inciting people to give until they had nothing in their purses.”
WHY IS IRRELIGION INCREASING?
We are suffering from the same problems Paul saw when the church first began. Titus 1:10-11 says “There are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception… they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—for the sake of dishonest gain.”
Pastors are straying from the true Gospel, Prophets are working for profit, and church leaders feel they “own” their congregation.
HOW CAN WE REACH OUT TO ATHEISTS WITH THE TRUTH?
Most atheists, like Thamsanqa, reject God because they have a twisted understanding of Christianity. Their experience with Christians has brought them pain and confusion. These people may be considered “reached” by Christianity, but they have not been reached by the truth.
The best way to reach out to them is to simply live like Jesus. Be in the Word and share Truth with irreligious friends with patience. Arguing will get us nowhere, but love is what will bring people back to God.
Be an example of what God has told us Christianity should look like, “to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” (James 1:27).
- Pray the church will be a good representation of Christianity and will preach the true Gospel.
- Pray that those who have strayed from the church will have wounds healed and have their eyes unblinded to Christ.