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Summertime, and the living is not easy

I sometimes take vacations for granted. But as Anatole Banga of Central African Republic knows, not everyone has that luxury—and especially overworked African pastors.

“God, the Creator of the universe, found he needed to rest after working for six days,” Anatole said in a letter today. “The principle of keeping the Sabbath was important in the life of the people of Israel. “However, for an African pastor it never features on the agenda, given the African ways of doing things. The feeling of tiredness is constantly weighing on more than one leader, and it is the sign of a need to take a break in order to renew oneself.

“This feeling has taken hold of me recently, following an avalanche of testings of all kinds. Certainly at such times, it is generally advised to take a holiday or just some time off, but not having the means for this, I have preferred instead to greatly increase the amount of time I spend in prayer and fasting to renew myself inwardly.

“'The battle is not over yet, and dying on the field before one's time is not going to help anyone.' General Patton used to say. 'You don't win a war by dying on the battlefield.' There is a saying too: 'Do not kill the horse before you have delivered the message'"

Anatole amazes me. He and his family have fought constant health and spiritual battles in one of the world’s poorest and conflicted countries (average male life expectancy is 45). But instead of looking inward with a “woe is me’ mentality, Anatole leads a pioneering missions outreach to pygmies in his nation. He preaches and counsels seemingly around the clock, and his family takes in orphans and the needy. He is also writing Christian leadership materials for French-speaking African church leaders.

Many other African church leaders find themselves just as engaged in remarkable ministry, and just as overworked and weary.

It may be summertime for us in the northern hemisphere, but the living is not easy for these African church leaders. Let’s hold them up in prayer: that God will sustain them to stand firm in ministry, that He will grant them renewed physical and spiritual health, and that, yes, He will give them some time for rest.

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