To conclude this series as I’ve been quoting from Pentecostal Theology in Africa, I want to leave us with a short anecdote about a Pentecostal friend of mine and how her theology is counter-cultural.
In his chapter on christology, Clifton Clarke says:
For many Africans, death is not the end of a person’s existence but the great disrupter of life. Death hinders the African from reading his/her potential in life on earth for wealth, fame, children, peace, long life, position and other blessings.
Joyce is an elder at her Pentecostal church just down the road from us and I have from time to time asked her to help me get my head around the teaching around prosperity in Tanzania. At one point, I put to her how you come to terms with someone dying when you prayed for them to be healed. How do you interpret this? Was it a lack of faith on part of the pray-er or the sick person?
She shook her head. No, she said, that person died because God has numbered their days and they have completed the work he had for them.
I was impressed with her movement away from ‘getting what I want’ to ‘submission to the will of God’ but I now see that what was so radical about her statement was the steadfast trust that death isn’t, after all, the great disrupter. I’m used to thinking of that in ‘afterlife’ terms, that because there we have eternal life death has no hold over us, but she had a temporal perspective, a sense of God’s involvement in life here, and even in death.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.