Dr. Denis Mukwege won the Nobel Peace Prize a day ago.
He is a gynecologist from the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa, and he has devoted his life to treating women, many of whom have been gang raped by fighters during the course of the country’s conflict. His specialized procedures, developed particularly to treat these victims of rape and their unique injuries, earned him the name “Dr. Miracle.”
Denis Mukwege is also a Christian.
In fact, his Christianity is inseparable from the work he is doing. An article about his work in Christianity Today includes the following:
If Christians do not live out the practical implications of their faith among their communities and neighbors, “we cannot fulfill the mission entrusted to us by Christ,” he said at a keynote for the Lutheran World Federation last year.
I am embarrassed to admit that prior to this week I had never even heard of Mukwege and, even when I did, didn’t realize he was a Christian. Many of the articles that reported his prize made no mention of his faith. And that realization has led me to a long consideration of the prominent Christians that, as an American, I see and hear most represented in the media.
It’s a surprisingly small list. On almost any issue concerning Christian beliefs, the same number of well-known Christian speakers are quoted, interviewed, and portrayed as being the voice of American Christians on any number of issues. Most are evangelicals; many are Southern evangelicals; a good number are evangelical leaders who are also involved in politics. Of that number, the majority are prominent pastors, Bible study leaders, authors, and speakers.
But that doesn’t fully represent by half the work that God is doing in this country, or the believers in it – or all over the world.
You are surrounded by a kingdom of believers whose names you don’t know and will never hear, whose work for Christ surpasses anything you can imagine. They are choking on smoke while they fight forest fires; they are creating specialized treatments for rape victims in Congo; they are inventing cures for disease in laboratories; they are building schools and teaching at them.
It’s not that being a prominent, publicly-quoted Christian is necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I feel great empathy for those believers, because we are sinful creatures and a pedestal often only heightens the likelihood of a fall. But it is also only a small part of the greater picture.
I believe that, one day when we all celebrate together at the throne of God, we will be able to meet the saints whose work for Him on earth was truly significant: world-changing, even. And I am willing to bet that a lot of us won’t recognize a one of ’em. Which is exactly the point, of course. God has always moved through the lowly and the humble. He works and builds His kingdom in the places where no one ever thinks to look.
So if you want to be encouraged – or if you’re tired of seeing the same group of Christians represented in media over and over and over again – do a little looking to see where God’s other kingdom workers are making a difference. You’ll be surprised–and delighted.