Your country needs you

David Mansfield

About 20 years ago I was challenged to adopt another country.

I wasn’t being forced into exile. No one was trying to get rid of me. Nor was my love for Australia in question. But what if every Australian Christian poured their passion for the saving of souls and their care of people at risk into an adopted country as well as the country they still call their home?

The challenge came from Dr Peter Adam, during one of his Bible studies at a CMS Summer School. The logic was irresistable. As well as having an interest for missionary work throughout the world, narrow down and focus in on one country and one work in that country in a deep and intensive way.

Study the country, its history, culture and politics, its people, religions and the progress of the gospel. Pray for it. Use your overseas travel dollar to visit it. Make that country one of your passions.

About the same time as this challenge came, a friend from my school days 25 years earlier, Dave Seccombe, moved from Perth to Cape Town to be the principal of George Whitefield College.  

It seemed like a no-brainer. South Africa would be my adopted country. I had a friend there. He’d be my window on life there. I’d give him my prayer support. We’d work out other expressions of partnership.

Perhaps my fascination for South Africa from childhood had also kicked in. Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton was one of the first novels I ever remember reading.

Or was there some lingering guilt for my unwillingness to side with the protesters during the 1971 Springbok tour. To my shame I admit that I was more interested in rugby than racial abuse at the time. I found the ground invasions, paddy wagons and smoke bombs a more than irritating distraction to the quality of the rugby on my two visits to the SCG that winter. Ever since, I wished I had been more politically and social-conscience savvy.

Whatever the reasons, Peter Adam and Secco were the catalysts for a journey that has impacted my life, and my family’s life, in ways that I will be forever grateful.

On that journey others have ventured with me. I have joined with teams of Sydney Anglicans on mission trips to this adopted land. Helen has journeyed with me. We made it possible for our three children to travel there while they were still teenagers.

Many opportunities for ministry have followed and many precious friendships have developed. These friendships led our younger daughter to live and serve on the staff of a church in Johannesburg for four years. She met and married an Irishman there. They had their first child there. I am going to manage his rugby career. He is now just a year old. He could play for Ireland, the Springboks or the Wallabies. His grandfather is going to weigh up all his options very carefully.

South Africa is in my blood. Its people are in my prayers. Its needs are in my heart. I have been much more blessed by it than it could ever be by me.

Now, whenever and wherever I get the chance to talk to people, I lay down the Peter Adam Challenge.

Adopt a country. Give it your heart, your prayers, your interest, your energies, your travel dollar, many more dollars. Give yourself to that country for the next, the last, 20, 40 or 60 years of your life.

Right now South Sudan needs the urgent and passionate support of tens of thousands of compassionate Australian Christians.

Zimbabwe is another African nation that needs to be the adopted country of many thousands of Aussie Christians

And if ever there was a near neighbour that has been grafted into our history, heart and social consciousness, it is Bali (Indonesia). We love this island. If the tens of thousands of Christians who seek pleasure there would also seek to alleviate its poverty and communicate the Gospel of Jesus.

Which country could you adopt? Who do you already have some overseas links with? What part of the world has stirred your imagination? Where in the world could you pour your passion?

Why not pray for your adopted country right now?

Or why not pray that the Lord will lay on your heart a country to adopt right now?

Your (adopted) country needs you.