I’ve blogged previously about the objections others have raised to us going to Tanzania. I’ve encountered a new one recently. Here it is: You’re too smart to go to Africa.
This argument runs along the lines that sending your best and brightest thinkers and your most gifted practitioners to the developing world is a waste. You need to keep them here where their skills and abilities can be best used.
I find this objection the most contemptible of any that have been raised. Here are four reasons why:
It’s racist. This very concept is based on the idea that people in majority world countries do not think or operate at as high a level as people in the West. It’s just a version of Noble Savage racism. People in other countries are not dumber; even if they’re not as educated, they’re still thinkers. And they may have a thing or two to teach us.
It’s selfish. Ministry in our own backyard is not more important than ministry elsewhere. Christians all around the world are our brothers and sisters and those that are unseen or disadvantaged ought to be at the top of our priority list, not the bottom.
It’s ignorant. Issues in the majority world are massively complex, especially in post-colonial countries such as Tanzania. We need our best and brightest to work in these countries, not so that they can fix them but because they, at least, might have some awareness of not barrelling in without attempting to come to terms with the complexity.
It’s uncaring. Christians in the West have consigned the developing world to the prosperity gospel for too long. Yet the word of God is not the word of God only for the Western middle classes! Now more than ever, the developing world need depth of faith, not just breadth.
Obviously I’ve laid my cards on the table, but what do you think? Are there merits to the ‘too smart for Africa’ idea?
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.