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NATIONAL REPORT: ASSESSING THE UNFINISHED TASK, ZIMBABWE

THE TARGET 2010 MOVEMENT

From Church Survival to Strategic Advance, Zimbabwe was emerging from near civil war in the mid-1980`s. Church leaders began asking questions about the state of the Great Commission in their nation. No one actually knew whether the Body of Christ was advancing or losing ground. Times were tough and most churches were struggling to get by in a survival mode. Pressed by the needs of the flock, church leaders felt they had little left over for outreach to un-reached communities.

With peace returning to the land, it became increasingly difficult to ignore the hundreds of villages and townships that remained virtually untouched by the Gospel. In 1986, a core of leaders from several denominations began to unite around the vision of saturating the nation with churches. Initially called Discipling Zimbabwe, this group launched a series of regional church planting envisioning consultations over the next two years to shed light on this great need. This was a match in God`s hands used to light a fire that was to spread across the country and later to other nations.

The task force made it a top priority to gain information on the specific areas and communities where new churches were most needed. Over a period of three years, research was carried out in every district, collecting information on virtually every church in the nation and noted un-churched areas.

Like the spies returning from Canaan, they gave a report on the land yet to be possessed for the Kingdom of God. The good news was that there were a total of 10,000 existing congregations throughout the country. Yet, to put a vibrant church within easy access of every community the researchers calculated that another 10,000 congregations would need to be planted. This total was based upon the goal of having one congregation for every 500 rural people and one for every 1000 urban people. That would mean doubling the total number of congregations!

The Discipling Zimbabwe task force convened the historic Target 2000 national congress in 1992 in which four hundred delegates from 60 denominations participated. The Great Commission challenge was simple. By God`s grace, 10,000 new churches must be planted by the year 2000. In order to achieve this massive goal, every denomination was encouraged to play a significant role by setting its own church planting goals, training its own church planters and targeting areas where churches were most needed. As a divine appointment with God, the Body of Christ came together in the spirit of Joshua and Caleb, proclaiming, “Yes, we can do it.” Therefore the challenging and ambitious goal of ten thousand churches to be planted before the year 2000 became a chorus of the task force.

TAKING A NEW GROUND

The Body of Christ in Zimbabwe took up the challenge. People began to pray for un-churched areas as never before, while every local church was encouraged to identify possible areas for church planting and to deliberately raise up lay leaders for this great challenge.

In order to fan the flames of multiplication during the 1990s, the Target 2000 national task force (as it came to be called) facilitated numerous regional and denominational training consultations where leaders were equipped in church planting, leadership, church health and spiritual warfare. Training was provided in how to identify priority communities for church planting. Participants were encouraged to target needy areas, and leaders were encouraged to look at their nation in terms of the remaining task of completing the Great Commission.

MULTIPLYING LIKE MUSHROOMS

The Church planting vision in Zimbabwe began to spread around the country like wild fire. This growth explosion was referred to by a newspaper journalist, as the “mushrooming of churches”. An army of church planters, intercessors and senders rallied behind the vision and began to deliberately plant churches in a way that they`d never done before. Key to this process was the mobilization of lay people for church planting. Local churches began to train their members internally and sent them out to unreached areas, since Bible colleges could not cope with the demand of high number of enrollment.

A new creativity was unleashed as people searched for effective ways to reach the lost. Churches were planted by means of church planting teams, the multiplication of branch churches, the Jesus Film, personal evangelism, local-church based crusades, open-air evangelistic meetings, healing and deliverance ministries and community development projects. Hundreds of churches were also planted by some church members who relocated (i.e. job transfer, retrenchments, etc.) to new areas, due to lack of a healthy church. They took a church planting vision as they went out.

With the flood of AIDS-related deaths, many pastors have made it a goal to win people to Christ at funerals and leave behind a new congregation. Things were tried that had never been done before. The Gweru Ministers` Fraternal formed a church planting team consisting of volunteers from five denominations. This Gweru-based teams were made available to local congregations in need of practical assistance, with the condition that the sponsoring church provides a pastor to care for the new congregation. Now that is vision driven unity!

God has used the most unlikely people to advance His purposes. A grandmother returning to her rural home to lend a hand in the fields managed to plant three churches during the rainy season. In Masvingo, a blind man successfully planted a new congregation. A converted drunk and thief planted over a dozen churches in the rural Nkayi area. God`s grace was available to those who responded in obedience to His call, regardless of their background or educational level.

NATIONAL VISION LEADS TO REMARKABLE GROWTH

The denominations that prioritized church planting experienced exceptional growth. In nine years, the Baptist Convention grew from 320 to 500 churches, the Full Gospel Church grew from 80 to 201 churches, Zimbabwe Christian Fellowship grew from 18 to 92 churches, the Methodist Church grew from 1355 to 1542 churches and the Apostolic Faith Mission grew from 975 to 2000 churches.
These are but a few examples of God`s blessings on denominations committed to church planting. With all of this activities, was the national goal achieved? In September, 2001, leaders gathered in Target 2000 national consultation to hear an progress update made throughout the country. There was great rejoicing when the report was shared that the goal of 10,000 new churches had been achieved. During this same period, 1186 churches had been planted by Zimbabweans in surrounding African countries and even to Europe and the USA. God had worked powerfully to advance His Kingdom.

In assessing the dynamics of the Target 2000 and Beyond movement, it would be noteworthy to highlight some strengths and areas for improvement.

STRENGTHS INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING

  1. A clear national vision uniting the Body of Christ.
  2. A committed national taskforce of respected, representative leaders.
  3. Church planting goals set by denominations and local churches.
  4. A simple strategy of multiplying congregations into every small community.
  5. Research that clarifies the task and promotes effective models.
  6. Local church-based prayer and spiritual warfare unlocking communities held captive by demonic forces.
  7. Evangelistic fruit conserved by the gathering of converts into new churches.
    The provision of ongoing training through leadership consultations and written materials.

AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT INCLUDE

  1. Least churched areas and peoples who need to be more deliberately identified and targeted. These communities are the most difficult to reach, including deep rural areas and immigrants.
  2. Church health needs to be emphasized alongside church planting in order to avoid the planting of weak churches. Sending churches should be encouraged to provide nurture and training until the church can stand on its own.
  3. The multiplication of leaders must be prioritized. Though there was a 98% increase in the number of pastors during the past nine years, the average full-time pastor remains responsible for five congregations. This ratio declines to one trained leader for every three churches when lay pastors are included. Every congregation deserves a trained, growing leader.
  4. Most new church pastors are not adequately prepared for ministry. Though 63% of denominations provide specific training for leaders in pioneering ministries, this has to be significantly strengthened through a variety of training opportunities.
  5. Leadership renewal is necessary within the national task force. It is critical that a steady flow of new, committed leaders be integrated into the national task force. Additional leaders bring needed energy, networking and creativity to ensure the expansion and implementation of the vision.
  6. Churches should be encouraged to work together for community transformation. Working together they can minister effectively to the hurts and needs of the communities in which they reside.

THE BATTLE CONTINUES

Zimbabwe has received a global press coverage due to the ongoing political turmoil sparked by the land issue, clearing slums (locally known as murambatsvina), and recent price blitz coupled with AIDS pandemic and looming food shortages and it is evident that society is reeling with pain. The major population shifts are underway as families and entire communities are resettled into new areas. The current environment poses a challenge for existing churches that aspire to be agents of transformation.

Yet, in the midst of such a crisis comes great opportunity. On the other hand, while the situation has been so tense, this has been a blessing in disguise, as there have been a lot of people moving out of the country to look for greener pastures as well as better living conditions. Like believers in the book of Acts who were scattered by persecution but despite that, preached the gospel and planted churches wherever they went, many more churches have been planted by Zimbabweans in the neighboring countries as well as abroad.

Within this demanding context, Target 2000 has revived itself. Like people, church planting movements pass through a life cycle. It must adjust to changing times and needs. What was relevant in the 1990s may no longer be what is necessary today. Therefore, over the past few years the national task force has undergone a restructuring process. New leaders are being empowered to develop new strategies and ministries to serve the Body of Christ.

The renewed movement has developed the following ministry priorities:

  1. Strategic church planting. The Body of Christ must continually be mobilized to reproduce itself where most needed (i.e. new communities, resettlement areas, overlooked groups, etc.).
  2. Leadership development. All available means must be marshalled to equip current and future church leaders. Bible schools, workshops, correspondence courses, mentoring and a multiplicity of training resources must be strengthened and utilized to train the number and quality of leaders that are needed.
  3. Church health. New and old churches need to be equipped to effectively disciple their members. Trained and mobilized members are the hands and feet of a vibrant, reproducing church.
  4. City outreach. God`s redemptive agenda for towns and cities can be effectively advanced when churches pray and work together. City outreach initiatives enable the city-church (the whole Body of Christ in a city) to transform communities through united prayer, emerging city leadership, saturation church planting, healthy church development and holistic ministries.
  5. Cross-cultural Missions mobilization. The Church in Zimbabwe is biblically compelled to participate in God`s global missions movement. Target 2010 is committed to encourage cross-cultural missions vision, training and deployment, challenging Zimbabweans to take the Gospel to neighboring countries and to the ends of the earth.

For healthy churches to transform communities there should be healthy and transformed pastors, who are equipped adequately so as to impact the churches to bring about transformation of their communities.

Behind the mushrooming of churches as mentioned above, there is also mushrooming of emerging young and inexperienced leaders that lack adequate equipping and mentoring. Zimbabwe continue to seek to fulfill the Great Commission through holding consultations or seminars for training, equipping and mentoring of emerging leadership on a country wide and interdenominational basis.

In addition to training, ZimNet also continues to seek to reach out to pockets of people groups that are less evangelized, such as the Gujarat, the Doma, the Tonga, etc., so as to reach them with the gospel by challenging and encouraging the body of Christ in Zimbabwe to reach out to them by planting healthy churches. The spirit of Zimbabwe mission may be summed up in an African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.” There is no limit to what can be accomplished when the Body of Christ partners together. May the concerted manner in which we work bear testimony to the Kingdom and serve to effectively advance the discipling of our nations.

* Published with Permission from the Regional Coordinator for Southern Africa of MANI.
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P. F. Moyo

MINISTRY REPORT: EAST-WEST CENTER FOR MISSIONS Research & Development

Dr. Steve Eom,General Secretary of the EWCmrd, and I, Dr. Timothy Park, President of EWCmrd, visited Bangladesh, Bhutan, Thailand, Hong Kong, and Macao from April 17 to May 8 to help facilitate the Asian missionary movement of the churches in the countries we visited. On May 15 to 24, I also visited Jordan and Egypt. We thank God for the fruitful ministries.

As a result of our Asian visits, about 10 Bangladesh Christians made a commitment to become cross-cultural missionaries and the first phase of founding the Bangladesh Missions Connection was started thru forming connections with several missions and church leaders in Bangladesh. Then after several months of meetings and confirmations among Bangladesh church and mission leaders, the first mission conference was held and the first mission agency was organized in the history of the Bangladesh Church and missions. We also visited the Kingdom of Bhutan to help facilitate the missionary movement of the Bhutanese Church. We met several Bhutanese Christian leaders and challenged them to launch a missionary movement among Bhutanese churches as soon as possible.

In Chiangmai Thailand, a board for East-West Center for Missions Research and Development was formed to help facilitate the missionary movement of Southeast Asian countries. I met and mentored leaders of the Karen Bible School and I spoke at the Dream Church of Chiang Mai. In Hong Kong, I made two presentations (“Today’s Missionary Training: Western Experience” and “Today’s Missionary Training: Korea Experience”) at a mission conference hosted by Alliance Bible Seminary of Hong Kong. Many Christian leaders from the mainland China and Hong Kong attended this conference. It was very encouraging that Chinese churches in China and outside China are involved in missionary work. In Macao, I met a missionary couple from Korea (both missionaries are Fuller students) and heard from them how God has used them in Macao and China. I preached at the church (Macao Korean Church) they have served.

In Egypt, I spoke at the joint worship service with Egyptian leaders and Korean missionaries and Korean residents in Egypt, celebrating Sarah Shinsook Kim’s 40th anniversary of her mission work in Egypt. I also spoke to GMS missionaries in the Middle East. In Jordan, I spoke to Iraqui refugees in Amman, Jordan and delivered a keynote speech at a mission forum “Refugees and Mission” and Korean missionaries in Jordan at a separate event. I had a wonderful fellowship with the leaders of the Association of Evangelical Churches in Jordan. One of the leaders attended AMA Incheon Convention in 2013.

Our visits confirmed our belief that the Holy Spirit has been strengthening the Asian churches and mobilizing Asian missions. I remembered the apostle Paul in the Book of Acts on how he visited the churches from Corinth to Philippi, Macedonia to Asia. He had seen the growth and movement of the people thru the power of the Holy Spirit and his good example. May our present ministry thru East West Center in Asia and beyond be also a venue to see the workings of the Holy Spirit and may we be humbled how the Lord will use our lives to encourage many in the field of missions.

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Timothy K. Park
President, East-West Center for Missions Research & Development

AFRICA IN MISSIONS: AFRICA DOING MISSIONS IN DIASPORA

INTRODUCTION

The world in the past few decades has witnessed an unparalleled intensification of transnational migration. It has been estimated that by the mid-1990s, more than 100 million people would have taken up residence in countries different from the land of their birth (The Economist 1997, 81; Wiener 1996, 128). The process of globalization has simultaneously created constraints as well as opportunities for the world at large. Africans, as a result, have responded in ways that have turned them into active participants in this phenomenon of transmigration contrary to the popular secularization thesis which posits that religion will fade with the triumph of modern science and globalization (See Weber’s Religious Rejections of the World and their Directions, 1920 & 1946), the Africa Missions have capitalized on the same and have responded to the call of Missions and evangelization by establishing thriving African Churches in the Northern Hemisphere.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF AFRICANS IN DIASPORA

The migration of Africans, mostly to countries in the Northern Hemisphere, began in the 1960s. The early immigrants were mostly students and seamen. Later, the influx steadily swelled in the eighties and nineties. The economic mismanagement by governments (especially military dictators), the structural location of the continent in the global capitalist systems, and neo-liberal policy prescriptions from the international financial institutions, created extensive economic hardship for many African countries (see Smith 2003, Amin 2002; Cheru 2002).

Moreover, the situation became fused with civil wars, political instability, ethnic conflicts, and political persecutions. These factors compelled many young African men to move North. They initially came as refugees and asylum seekers. After some years, their families joined them and new children were born.

This has shifted their temporary situations into long-term migrants or settlers in the Northern societies. Some scholars in the North argue that these new settlers should not be branded as African Diaspora because of the marked difference between their voluntary exile and that of their counterparts who were forcibly uprooted from Africa and scattered around the globe through the traumatic experience of the transatlantic slave trade. Yet the new settlers see themselves as Africans in Diaspora.

AFRICANS IN DIASPORA: WHO ARE THEY?

Briefly, the Africans in Diaspora are:

  1. New Settlers who voluntarily relocated from Africa to societies in the Northern Hemisphere and whose communities are overwhelmingly urban. The majority of them live in the big cities of Europe, Americas, the Middle East, Asia and Australia.
  2. People who want to live close to each other.
  3. Mostly unemployed or under-employed. This situation is changing considerably because many of them are now pursuing professional studies, notably nursing, information technology (I.T.), and engineering.
  4. Over-represented in low-paying, manual, processing, and machinery occupations in the manufacturing industry.
  5. Faced with racism and marked discrimination.
  6. Take delight in mobilizing themselves into ethnic associations to address their settlement and integration needs.
  7. Very religious.

Most African immigrants left the shores of Africa as religious. In that regard, God, their maker, was drawn into all aspects of their migration processes. God was drawn into the decision to migrate, through visa application, securing airfare or walking through the Sahara desert without much food or water, to the arrival, and eventual settlement process. These immigrants use religion to counteract social, financial and moral shocks in their international migration.

According to Joseph Mensah’s work (Doing Religion Overseas, September 2007), of about 12,000 Africans from Ghana who migrated into Toronto in the late eighties, 93% were Christians; only 2% were Muslims; and 5% declared no religious affiliation.

Gerrie tar Haar, a pioneer in the study of Christianity among Africans in Europe in his work, (Religious Communities in the Diaspora, 2001), noted that human migration is something of all times and ages and that ‘religion has always been a significant aspect of it’. The societies in the North will now have to accept the “staying power” (Fryer 1984) of these religious African immigrants since ‘return’ associated with the diaspora does not exist in their vocabulary.

Unlike the Jews in Diaspora who could not ‘sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land’, the African immigrants are singing the Lord’s songs in foreign lands by establishing vibrant churches in the North

This paper, therefore, will endeavor to examine the characteristics of these African Diaspora Churches (Africa Missions) established and led by Africans and whose membership are mostly Africans or people of that descent. The paper will also try to expose the kinds of social services they provide; some challenges facing them; few suggestions to some of their problems; and the blessings they are offering to Christianity in general and the northern societies in particular.

The African Churches in Diaspora (Africa Mission) may be categorized as follows:

  1. African Initiated Churches (AIC or Spiritual churches),
  2. African Initiated Pentecostal Churches,
  3. African Initiated Charismatic Churches,
  4. African Initiated Baptist Churches (mainline),
  5. African Initiated Catholic Churches (mainline),
  6. African Initiated Methodist Churches (mainline),
  7. African Initiated Presbyterian Churches (mainline),
  8. African Initiated Anglican Churches (mainline),
  9. African Initiated SDA Churches (mainline),
  10. African Initiated Assemblies of God Churches (mainline), etc.

Typical examples of such churches scattered in many cities in the Northern societies are: The Church of Pentecost Churches, The Assemblies of God Churches, Redeemed Christian Churches of God, Kingsway International Christian Center (KICC), Christ Embassy Churches, Blessed Embassy of the Kingdom of God, Deeper Life Churches, Apostolic Churches, Christ Apostolic Churches, Baptist Churches, Ghana Methodist Churches, Ghana Presbyterian Churches, Nigeria Anglican Churches, Ghana SDA churches, etc.

Ironically, the above classifications spring forth some questions – should there be a Nigeria Anglican Church in Britain? And should there be a Ghana SDA Church in Washington DC, where the SDA has its international headquarters? These varieties of churches began as fellowship among the immigrants who felt unwelcomed in many mainstream Northern or “white” Churches on racial grounds.

Moreover, these African immigrants felt the spiritual and liturgical poverty of the worship life in these mainline churches in the North. They, as a result, sensed the call to establish varieties of Churches which expressed religion in ways that resonated with African and biblical pieties. Contrary to the claims of some scholars, therefore, these Churches sprang up not because the new settlers wanted to create religious spaces in their new environments, but it was because the missionaries’ churches continued to lose their spiritual fervor and sense of the supernatural.

It is no wonder that Methodism, Anglicanism, Roman Catholicism under the leadership of Africans in Diaspora have been geared towards new ecclesial identities, liturgical structures and styles of worship that differ markedly from those inherited from the missionary endeavors (Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu, African-led Christianity in Europe, 2008).

AFRICAN DIASPORA CHURCHES: HOW TO IDENTIFY THEM?

Some marked characteristics of the African Diaspora Churches are:

  1. They are self-supporting, self-evangelizing and self-governing. Only few of them have missionaries from Africa leading them but such missionaries are paid by the Diasporic churches.
  2. They hardly receive support from the governments and agencies of the societies in the North.
  3. Most of them have solid ecumenical ties with churches in Africa. The Churches in Africa are known as ‘mother churches’.
  4. High visibility of women as devoted members.
  5. They are men dominated. Women are relegated to low and mid-level leadership positions. They mostly deal with traditional African women’s roles of children and youth ministries, singing / music ministry, cooking during conventions and conferences and cleaning. Even where women are at top leadership positions, they are regarded as co-Pastors with their husbands.
  6. Besides meeting on Sundays (Saturdays for SDA churches) for vibrant services, they meet at least twice in a week for Bible studies and long prayers. Some of them have the ‘cell groupings’ that meet at homes for additional Bible studies.
  7. They mostly use English and French as the medium of communication during services and meetings. But, surprisingly, most of the churches led by Ghanaians use ‘Twi’ with interpreters during services.
  8. While there are some variations in worship and liturgy styles, almost all their services are characterized by vibrant worship backed by musical instruments, singing, clapping and dancing.
  9. Most pay Tithe and give Offering at services. Two or more offerings are often taken at a service.
  10. Finally, they are very particular about their dress code. They want to put on their best attire to church, especially on Sundays. The men normally prefer to put on suit and tie. The women also take delight in putting on dignified African attire with matching colorful head gear.

AFRICAN DIASPORA CHURCHES: WHAT THEY DO FOR THE COMMUNITIES

At a time when Christianity is under siege in the lands it originated from and thrived, the marginalized Africans in Diaspora have emerged as “apostles” poised to expand the Christian mission and evangelization in the global spread of the faith. Furthermore, the African Churches in Diaspora have responded to the call of Jesus Christ to feed the hungry, house the homeless and cloth the naked by providing social services to the Diasporic communities.

Indeed the African Diasporic Churches approach these indispensable social services with great sense of urgency (Opoku, Onyina 2004, Pentecostalism and the African Diaspora). The services they render are geared mostly towards the new African immigrants but are also opened to all other communities. Some of such blessings are:

  • English as a second Language (ESL) classes.
  • Job search networking support.
  • Helping members/others find affordable housing.
  • Marriage Counseling.
  • Giving ride/help with transportation.
  • Help with immigration/refugee applications.
  • Conflict resolution.
  • Technology skills training, such as help with internet access and computer use.
  • Youth and Children Mentorship and Tutorials, Summer School programs.
  • Help with social celebrations.
  • Sports programs.
  • Bereavement/funeral assistance.
  • Food Bank provision to the general public.

With the provision of such wide range of social services, the African Diasporic Churches serve as conduit of helping the settlers to adapt in the new societies.

AFRICAN DIASPORA CHURCHES: THEIR CHALLENGES

In the interest of balanced analysis, it is fair to acknowledge that the African Churches in Diaspora are not beyond reproach. Some of their challenges are:

  1. The African Diasporic churches are made up of about 99% Africans or people of African descent, and they are mostly reaching out to African migrants. There are only few exceptions like: Rev Sunday Adelaja’s Church – Blessed Embassy of the Kingdom of God for all Nations in Kiev, Ukraine which has over 90% “white” congregants. A million dollar question therefore is: if the Africa Missions in Diaspora indeed felt ‘called’ to world Missions and evangelization, then why are they not reaching up to people of all races?
  2. Most of the African Diaspora Missions have some built-in power imbalance regarding gender. Even though women constitute the majority of the membership of these churches yet they play ‘second fiddle’ to the men. They are always the minority when it comes to leadership positions in the churches. Are the churches also guilty of creating the problem of ‘minorities within the minority’?
  3. The high level display of wealth and class in terms of flamboyant cars, clothing outfits, shoes, and jewelries by leaders and members at Sunday Church services are becoming an eye sore.
  4. Normally, Africans are bad mix. Their social participation and integration into the wider societies in the North is very slow. Is the vast number of social services provided by the African Diaspora Churches to these immigrants a major factor?
  5. The African Diaspora Churches are gradually deviating from their traditional preaching and teaching emphasis on morality, humility, prayer, Holy Spirit and eschatology to the popular “prosperity messages”. Will this not impede or derail their global Missions and evangelization agenda?
  6. Their failure to attract the second generation Africans in Diaspora into their folds. Most of these second generation Africans started as children and youth in these churches but the overbearing influence of the Northern Hemisphere’s culture and values have drifted most of them from the churches into the hands of gangs, drug lords and eventually jail. Many of them face violence daily on the streets in the North. What agenda do the churches have for these young Africans?
  7. Inability to establish better training facilities, and also systematic communication and awareness among the leaders and members to minimize syncretism and mismanagement in the churches.
  8. Failure of leaders, both in the mainland Africa and of theAfrican Diasporic communities, to set better machinery to dialogue with the governments and leaders of the Northern societies on very pressing issues like:
  • Racial discrimination due to the pre-fixed derogatory images of Africa.
  • Restrictive regulations on immigration, employment, education, and the concept of multiculturalism by governments and agencies in the North.
  • Tougher restrictivelaws enacted recently by governments in the Northern societies making it difficult, if not impossible, for the African Diaspora Churches to purchase and refurbish redundant church buildings and other building in the inner cities and re-dedicating the same for worship.

WHAT AFRICAN DIASPORA CHURCHES NEED TO DO ABOUT THE CHALLENGES

Few suggestions as to how the African Diaspora Churches can counteract some of the challenges are enumerated below as follows:

  • The African Churches in Diaspora should pull their resources together and establish training facilities that will equip both current and future leaders of the churches. Firstly, equipping pious youth (future leaders) who have already taken on the culture, education and values of the North and could help the churches to reach out to the second generation Africans.

BLESSINGS

  • The African Churches in Diaspora (Africa Missions) have been a great blessing to the African settlers. The churches have been able to use their religious beliefs and formats to empower the new settlers spiritually, morally and socially to counteract the cultural shocks, alienation, and discrimination they encountered in the North. Moreover they have managed to equip and enlightened them with their host of social services.
  • The Africa Diasporic Churches, through evangelization and Missions, have been able to draw many of the African settlers from the curses of prostitution, drugs, human trafficking and terrorist activities to the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (Christianity). Thus helping to populate Heaven and depopulate Hell.

CONCLUSION

The marginalized African settlers who migrated mostly in the eighties and the nineties to the Northern Hemisphere as students, seamen, refugees and green pasture seekers have managed to preserve their cultures and identities and also created emotional and spiritual support through the establishment of various thriving African Diasporic churches. These churches are mainly Pentecostal, Charismatic, and also mainline churches that have been re-initiated by Africans.

Africans and people of African descent are the majorities in these churches. Also the churches are self-supporting, self-evangelizing and self-governing with many having strong ecumenical and transnational ties with cognate missions in Africa. Even though the males dominate their leadership, women are the majority. Moreover, these churches are well noted for their vibrant and dynamic liturgical structures and styles of worship. To them ‘who says Church is boring?’.
They are also providing a host of social services to the helpless immigrants as response to Jesus’ call to feed the hungry, cloth the naked, and house the homeless. Yet these African Diasporic Churches are guilty of not reaching out to many other races with the gospel. They are also not adequately reaching out to the second generation Africans who are also seeking identity and acceptance in the Northern societies. The individualistic tendencies and struggle for popularity and more followers on the part of their leaders are not helping the Diasporic communities and the churches either. They need to form a united front to dialogue with the various governments and authorities on pressing social, financial and moral issues confronting the Diasporic communities.

Finally, Africa Missions in Diaspora needs much commendation than condemnation. Through their missions and evangelization agenda, many people who were shunning Christianity (including Muslims) are now converting into the faith in the North. Moreover, they are using their brand of Christianity to empower the African settlers to stand up against the social vices in the North. Their followers are now saying ‘no’ to prostitution, illegal drugs business, crimes, gangs, violence and other social vices which are seriously tormenting the societies in the North. Can this be termed ‘mission in reverse’?

I will end up with these four questions for brain storming and for further research:

  1. Is it true that the Africans in Diaspora are using Christianity to maintain their cultural identity, and also amplify their human and religious rights to facilitate their settlements in the Northern Hemisphere?
  2. Does the African Churches in Diaspora (African Missions) have some significant negative undertones that need to be unearthed?
  3. Do African immigrants find it necessary to join the African Churches in Diaspora, if they are accepted as simply ‘Christians’ in the Northern churches?
  4. Will the African Churches in Diaspora continue to appeal to the African settlers especially the “second generation Africans” as they become well educated and richer? Or are the Churches going to fall into the same spiritual state as the missionary and mainline churches in the North? “African Churches in Diaspora” (Africa Missions, Africa Diasporic Churches); Diaspora; Northern Hemisphere (North); Missions; settlers (African settlers).

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Tettey, Wisdom and Korbla P. Puplampu (eds.) 2005, The African Diaspora in Canada, Calgary: University of Calgary Press.
Walls, Andrew F. 2005. “Mission and Migration: the Diaspora Factor.” Journal of African Christian Thought 5(2): 3-11.
Wong, Madeleine 2000 ‘Ghanaian Women in Toronto’s Labour Market: Negotiating Gendered Roles and Transnational Household Strategies,’ Canadian Ethnic Studies, XXXII, 2: 45–74.

* Published with permission from MANI
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Emmanuel Owusu Bediako
Dr. Emmanuel Owusu Bediako (Apostle) was one of the founders and Senior Pastor of the The Church of Pentecost, Canada. He passed away in November, 2013. He presented this paper in the MANI 2011 Consultation.

AFRICAN MISSION LEADER SEARCHES FOR POSITIVES DESPITE DEADLY SURGE OF JIHADIST VIOLENCE

Attacks attributed to radical Islamic groups are happening on a weekly, or even daily, basis in Africa, posing security concerns across a vast swathe of the continent.

The phenomenon has dramatically affected Church activities in various regions.

But Rev. Reuben E. Ezemadu, Coordinator of the Movement for African National Initiatives (MANI), a grassroot African initiative aimed at mobilising African churches to send Africans as missionaries around the world, told World Watch Monitor the violence has at least had one unexpected positive effect: boosting mission work in Africa.

“The violence constitutes a real challenge for churches and mission work. But on the other hand, people displaced by that insurgency can come to places where they can easily be reached by the Gospel,” he says.
“Just an example: the widow of a missionary killed by Boko Haram in north-east Nigeria, who lives now in Ibadan, in the south, got engaged to a new convert from a Muslim background, who came to our school for training in mission. They got married in September last year. Later, they discovered that in a district of Lagos, there are Kanuris [an ethnic group originally from Borno State] living there and doing business. So now they are engaged in missionary work, reaching the Kanuris in Lagos.”

Rev. Ezemadu says there are now many missionaries among groups of internally displaced persons [IDPs], and that many Muslims have converted to Christianity.

“The upsurge in attacks have made some Muslims detest their religion,” he says, “and to ask the question: ‘Is this really a religion of peace? Is it really what we should follow?’ And as they come into contact with Christians, who show them the love of God, most of them are turning to Christ. We have heard stories of how God visited some of them, through wonders and miracles.”

He points towards the stories of Stephen, the first Christian martyr, and the apostle Paul, who started out as a persecutor of Christians.

“God could have prevented Stephen from being killed, but He let him be killed so that the Gospel could go beyond Jerusalem,” he says. “And then He let someone like Paul come on board, in order to do more things than Stephen could have done. We regard Paul as the first Boko Haram militant. His message was: ‘You are following Christianity. Because of that, you will die’. That’s what Boko Haram are doing now. But God used Paul to take the Gospel to different places.”
“Out of our crisis, something great will come. For years churches were focused on converting people and claiming territories, without making disciples. The crisis will now force them to turn to Christ and be dependent on him.”

A TURNING POINT

African church leaders met together in April in Ivory Coast to discuss mission in Francophone Africa.

Rev. Ezemadu adds that the nature of mission in Africa has changed, with Westerners no longer at the forefront.

“The crisis has also sent us a clear message regarding the future of mission in Africa,” he says. “Even before this upsurge of violence, anybody that is sensitive to the Holy Spirit would have known that the era of Western mission, in the way it used to happen in Africa, had passed.
“Even if Westerners can come, they can no longer go as deep as they used to go, for security reasons. Whereas African missionaries can integrate and mix with people.
“Moreover [some of] the people who are Westerners who wanted to reach Africa are already in the West. God has brought them next to their doors, all over, whether in the US or Europe. Why don’t they stay there and reach them, as they can’t go to Somalia to reach Somalians?”
“[Westerners] can also assist and encourage those who are doing it here in Africa. It’s like what America does [in conflict]: instead of sending troops to Iraq, they train Iraqis and equip them. Why can’t we do that in mission?”
“We are not saying that Western missionaries should not come to Africa. But the time has come for missionary agencies to re-think their paradigm of missions, and even their strategies, and work in partnership with the locals.
“That’s why a platform like this, MANI, exists – in order to engage African churches in mission, and also promote partnerships.
“So the question is not whether Africans are ready to take over the mission work. It’s only for us to discover our part and play it. Because for years we were sitting down and the white people were doing it for us.
“But now, many Africans are having breakthrough in leading international mission organisations (SIM, IFES, SIL, etc.). Some started as students, others footballers. But they are now planting churches and doing mission.
“That’s the message that MANI carries. We are God’s people, and we have a part to play in extending God’s kingdom. And what we have is sufficient to do what we can. But we are open to partnership.”

Source: World Watch Monitor

African mission leader searches for positives despite deadly surge of jihadist violence

* Published with Permission

MALAWIAN MISSIONS: RISING ABOVE LIMITATIONS

During His ascension to heaven, Jesus Christ commanded His disciples to go out and preach the Gospel. His command was quite obscure and not what the disciples had been expecting. They looked at themselves as doubters, fearful, unable to cast out demons, unable to stand the pressure of the pharisees and sadducees and yet Jesus trusted them.

The Great Commission entrusted to the disciples is also being entrusted to the African Church. The Church in Africa has been entrusted with the Gospel. Despite the feeble mind-set of the African Church toward this mission, God still views us as essential to carry out His Great Commission.

NEGATIVE TRENDS

The Church in Malawi has done a good job in terms of proclaiming the Gospel, yet it still has some rooms for improvement. Some of the highlighted trends that cause the Church to struggle to carry out the Great Commission effectively are:

Poor Partnership System: The Body of Christ has suffered a lot because of a lack of effective collaboration among itself. Many churches strongly rely on themselves even when they are not well informed in some areas. The lack of effective partnership has been rooted in the fear of loosing membership. This misguided behavior has not only stopped the progress of the Gospel among the least evangelized souls, but has also handicapped the process of edification.

Consolidating our efforts together is one way of getting the task accomplished. Moreover, for the Church to be effective in fulfilling her Master`s expectation, both clergy and the so-called lay people should recognize that they are God`s stewards. Therefore, they should seek to compliment one another and fight against Satan and his workers.

Inappropriate Leaders Vision: God`s heartbeat is within the local church. The Church is the only agency that God uses to fulfill His purpose for humanity. Surprisingly, some ministers have deviated from God`s plan for humanity by using the local church to fulfill their personal desires. These kinds of ministers are great hindrances and prevent the Gospel from penetrating, as it should. Their messages are awkward and have no life since they are intent on meeting their personal needs. They long to build the names of their respective denominations instead of proclaiming Jesus. Such leaders are characterized by unwillingness to prepare the emerging leaders. They are not pleased when others perform well and they cannot think of partnering with others. As a result, their followers remain hungry and do not fully understand God`s plan for believers.

Financial Misconception: The Church in Malawi and in Africa as a whole has a strong misconception about missions. Our eyes and minds have viewed missions as an expensive ministry that cannot be done unless we are backed-up financially by the Western and American brethren.

Actually, we are poor in our thinking. It is our responsibility to thank Europe and America for bringing the Gospel to our ears, and then rise up against the obstacles to proclaim this Gospel. The problem is that we, the locals also desire to do missions the way other missionaries do, to have a car, drive and travel like they do. If we are to consider ourselves as the salt of the world, then we must not have misconceptions concerning missions.

Traditionally speaking, salt is inexpensive and is found in every home, tent, and cave where people are. For it to be found in those different places, it does not necessarily have to travel by airplane; it can go on a bicycle, in jars placed on heads of people, and from the hands of one neighbor to another.

MISSING THE PRIORITIES OF THE CALLING

Churches need to put the donkey before the cart instead of doing the opposite. Local churches should be taught what the priority of Christianity is. In my opinion our priority is love. We should love God for His great plan of salvation that He accomplished through His Son, Jesus Christ. We should also love those who constitute the family of believers and then love sinners instead of judging and hurting them. If we open our eyes widely, we will find that sinners are the essential reason the Church exists on earth.

UNWILLINGNESS TO TAKE RISK

The Body of Christ has been unable to conquer the world because of the fear of facing risks. In many occasions we tend to focus our ministries on people who honor us, as it is instituted by African culture. This mindset has led us to ignore some people groups because they are not receptive. We have even considered Asia as an impenetrable zone. It is time for the Church in Africa to change her mindset that has limited our potential. We should learn from the early Church. The early Church conquered their world because they were risk takers. They looked at risks (death, rejection, embarrassment, imprisonment, torture, etc.) as opportunities to prove their faith. We cannot boast of our salvation while we fear to prove our faith in difficult situations. We should see death through the eyes of Aughey who said: “Death to the Christian is the funeral of all his sorrows and evils, and the resurrection of all his joys.”

EXAMPLES OF SOME EFFECTIVE MODELS DISCOVERED IN MALAWI

Despite the number of trends that have hindered the work of ministry to operate in its fullness, there are churches and ministries here in Malawi which are rising above their limitations to reach out to the un-evangelized and the least evangelized communities.

Capital City Baptist Church:

The efforts of this church regarding the fulfillment of the unfinished task has caught my attention. The following are some of the methods used by Capital City Baptist Church to fulfill the Great Commission:

1) Good Partnership Model: Being a Baptist Church, its system of partnership with Pentecostal churches is an outstanding example. Pastor Henry Joseph is a man who understands most areas of his spiritual gifts, therefore he is open to invite any minister from a Pentecostal church to come and work together with him in some essential areas such as deliverance ministry. Moreover, they financially support different denominations, ministries, and individuals outside Baptist circles to carry out the work of ministry.

2) Project Rahab: Project Rahab aims to reach out to sexual workers. It gives an opportunity to the sexual workers to interact with other ladies about the most vital challenges of life. Through Project Rahab, many prostitutes have felt loved; they have been saved and given capital to initiate legitimate businesses.

3) Zion Youth Centre: There are currently more than 46,000 youth in Lilongwe (the capital city) alone, but there are no facilities where they can interact without being exposed to destructive influences. This has greatly contributed to the fact that many young people end up being involved in underage drinking, drug abuse and experimenting with sex, (a factor relating to the high prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS amongst youth and young adults in Malawi). In response to this problem, Capital City Baptist Church initiated a project, the Zion Youth Centre project, to provide a platform for the youth and young adults of Malawi to engage in positive social and Spiritual interaction in an environment specifically designed for and geared towards their needs.

4) Intercontinental outreach: In its willingness to reach out to the Muslim community, Capital City Baptist Church has become devoted to touching the nations of Pakistan and Sudan. They have been able to send financial support to one of the local churches in Pakistan, and they are sending missionaries to survey the land for future permanent ministry.

MALAWI ASSEMBLIES OF GOD

The Malawi Assemblies of God (MAG) is the largest Pentecostal Church in Malawi and has a great influence in the African ministry:

Missions in the Country: The Malawi Assemblies of God is the most mission minded denominations in Malawi. Dr. Lazarus Chakwela (the President of MAG) has been able to influence missions in all levels of the denomination. They have enforced the creation of a missions department in all their local churches. Contributions towards missions are made nationwide. The Assemblies of God School of Theology (AGST) mission department plants two to three churches each year from faith promises and offerings raised from students and teachers.

Missions Beyond Borders: The Country of Zimbabwe is a testimony of what Malawi Assemblies of God has done in fulfilling the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ. They instituted a Bible School and opened several local churches. In addition, Namibia and Swaziland have benefitted also from Malawi Assemblies of God in the areas of church planting and discipleship.

CONCLUSION

Africa has all it takes to spread the Good News to the ends of the world, all we need is to rise above our misconceptions and meet the task ahead. We are favored by our innocent position in terms of world political involvement, and this has given us the ability to penetrate the countries and kingdoms where Americans and Europeans are not allowed. It is time for us to invade the world with the Gospel.

* Published with Permission from the Regional Coordinator for Southern Africa of MANI
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Innocent Magambi
Rev. Innocent Magambi was born in a small refugee settlement in Congo in 1979. His parents had fled the tribal conflict in Burundi. At age 26, a church in Malawi’s capital city offered Innocent a scholarship to study theology. For the first time in his life, Innocent was able to live outside the confines of a refugee camp. He went on to found “There is Hope”, a Christian non-profit that provides opportunities for refugees and their host community to grow in their capacity to live with dignity, providing for their families and making a positive contribution to society.

MISSION MOBILIZATION IN SOUTHERN AFRICA

The Southern Africa region has a rich history of Christian missions. In 1880 the church in South Africa was said to have made greater progress than in any other area of the African Continent. This phenomenal growth was said to have resulted in the emergence of a large number of African clergy (Hildebrandt 1990). Over the years the context has changed and sadly too, the Great Commission had become a free elective ministry to majority of African churches in the region. This scenario had further been compounded by the overwhelming issues of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, poverty, unemployment and the dilemma of transitioning from apartheid, colonial imperialism and a paternalistic missionary sending and supporting approach.

Despite these challenges, God is at work! A new momentum of missionary awareness and involvement started building during the last decade of the 20th century. This was climaxed when Africa hosted the Global Consultation on World Evangelization (GCOWE`97) for the first time in Pretoria. The impact of the Consultation has resulted in increased awareness, interest, investment and involvement in missions. Other significant outcomes include the formation of new partnerships, networks and hubs to reach the unreached. There are also new national, denominational and organizational missions initiatives. Missionaries are no longer presumed to be white, but have a beautiful diversity in color! Creating a new mission horizon.

There is no short cut to creating a new and enduring mission horizon for the church in Southern Africa. There must be effective and sustained mobilization, training, sending and supporting of African missionaries. To achieve this goal, we need to challenge the church leaders with the changing phases of the 21st century missions and the impact of its emerging global forces like economic depression, political changes, poverty and unemployment and many other social issues.

There is no doubt that a clear presentation of the challenges we face will prompt engagement in mission by the Church in the region. In practice, the mobilization process, training, sending and supporting that will work today in Africa must be creative, contextual, innovative and inspiring.

The mobilization process must also have firm hold on the present day realities, changes and paradigms. One impetus of mission mobilization is the fact that some politically stable and economically viable countries in Southern Africa, currently suffer the influx of refugees and immigrants, an advantage to mission enterprise. Consequently missions cannot be defined by geographical boundaries any longer, but rather in terms of mission-market. This is because mission field has come to the backyard. It has invariably provided a mission involvement opportunity for economically poor churches in Africa. We therefore need to create a simple new mission horizon for the Church in Southern Africa that can inspire involvement from where they are to the ends of the world and mobilization is the only solution. The Church must be taught to do away with the traditional mission lenses that see the mission field as only overseas.

MOBILIZATION PROCESS

Mobilization is said to refer to any process by which God`s people are awakened and kept moving and growing until they find their place in strategic involvement in the task of completing world evangelization (Winter and Tullis 1997).

For a long time missions mobilization has been treated as a straightjacket rather than a flexible process. Africa has also suffered as a testing ground for training materials that have been developed outside its culture. There is therefore an urgent need for mission mobilisers who are neither pastors, missionaries or mission practitioners with first hand experience, to be properly trained in the art of mobilization. This is because there are underlying factors and inter-connected elements that influence a local church`s ability to become involved in mission. These include effective communication skills of the mission mobilizer, congregational realities, congregational receptivity, denominational tradition, profile of the mobilizer, characteristics of church adult learners and local church critical mission resources of money, people and prayer (Osameyan 2006). All these coupled with the prevailing ecological frame of the different local churches, call for an in-depth understanding in designing an appropriate mission mobilization approach for the Church.

For any mobilization process to be effective in Africa, the following stages must also not be ignored: Exploratory, relationship building with the Church and its leadership, assessment of congregational needs to know the right approach and the appropriate follow-up strategy. Spiritual warfare in mission mobilization is another aspect that has been ignored, but very important if we are to see the Church in Africa involved. Jesus illustrates this when he said: Can a man enter a strong man’s house and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? And then he will spoil his house. (Matt 12:29)

The primary target of our mission mobilization should first be the pastors and church leaders.

This is because they hold the keys to the entrance of their local churches. Good exposure of pastors and church leaders to the challenge of the unfinished task often results in significant deployment of missionaries and resources to specific target people groups by their denominations and local churches. Another factor that must be addressed to see the Church in Southern Africa taking its rightful place in world evangelization is the issue of local church on one side and the old/emerging agency relationship on the other hand.

TRAINING AND SENDING

The issue of cross-cultural training for missionaries cannot be overemphasized. Jesus trained the twelve. Paul who himself was set apart, to be prepared for ministry spent time to train his converts and expected his disciples to do the same. (Acts 20:26-31; 2 Tim. 2:2)

Apart from cross-cultural training, there is also a growing need for adequate theological education for African missionaries. This is because experience has shown that they often find themselves playing different roles on the field, which they are sometimes ill-prepared for (e.g. pastoral and teaching doctrines).

Local church and agency relations: a call for synergy and collaboration

A historic tension existed between the church leaders and mission agency leaders. This tension must be replaced with a synergistic collaboration in order for the remaining un-evangelized people groups in the Southern African region and beyond, to be reached with the Gospel. There is also a great need for the established foreign mission agencies working within the region to join hands with the emerging ones, as there are areas of common interest and for cross-fertilization of ideas. Duplication and competition would also be eliminated since they target the same ministry market.
The following are a few models of missionary training among some emerging missions:

Jointly sponsored training school:

A typical example is the Nigeria Evangelical Mission Institute (NEMI) in Jos that was started in 1986 by six different mission organizations and churches. Although many other denominational and Mission Agency schools have been started since then, it still serves as a good model.

Church-based/apprentice type of training:

This is another model that has been used by different churches and organizations in Ghana and Nigeria. It is an on-the-Job training program for would-be missionaries and it has been found to be effective.

Interdenominational mission schools:

Few schools of missions are available within the region besides the Africa School of Mission in White River South Africa and Pro-Christo Mission School in Kabwe, Zambia. There is a great need for the establishment of more missionary training schools in Southern Africa to equip the growing number of missionary volunteers in our churches.

Sending and supporting models:

Emerging missions follow several models in their sending structure and function. The following are some typical examples that could be adopted by African churches in the region. They are less expensive when compared with the traditional models:

Today, many missionaries are sent as tent-makers. Two churches join together to send a missionary. Families contribute to send and support missionaries on the field. Sometimes local churches of the same denomination form a missionary society. A typical example is the Evangelical Missionary Society (EMS) of the Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA) in Jos, Nigeria. Churches in the hosting cities of refugees and immigrants are now adopting them for church planting purposes. Typical examples are the French church in Pretoria and the Ethiopian church in White River in South Africa.

Also with the increased awareness in member care, creative ideas that are contextually relevant are being developed for generating financial support for missions. The issue of lack of resources has been the major challenge and common excuse for non-involvement in mission by African churches. This issue can be resolved through effective mobilization.

Resources locked up in the Southern African Church could be released for the blessings of other nations in the world if missionary vision is ignited in the churches. There is no hard and fast rule on what a mission sending structure should be like. It may be a form of denominational or Agency-based type of sending. What is important is reaching the unreached in a sustainable approach.

FIVE GIFTS A WELL-MOBILIZED SOUTHERN AFRICAN CHURCH CAN SHARE WITH THE WORLD

Gift of Relationship: In this age of technological advancement and individualistic spirit, the African relationship and people-orientation remains a key both for soul-winning and effective mobilization of more harvest force.

African`s capacity to survive despite hardship and poverty in contrast with their Western counterparts. This has an added value for missionary work in other poor countries of the world.
South Africa, as a leading Country in NEPAD and as one of the economic powerhouse of Africa, is fast becoming a global trading hub in Southern hemisphere. This is an open window of opportunity for exporting African professionals and tent-makers as missionaries around the world.

The Southern African Church is endowed with many world-renowned scholars and missiologists. For example, the Southern Africa Missiological Society (SAMS), the first of its type in Africa, is making immeasurable academic and scholastic contributions to global missions.

Citizens of some Southern African countries do not need visa to enter many countries of the world. This is an added advantage for prospective missionaries from the region to the world, where doors are already closing against missionaries from Europe and the West.

CONCLUSION

We believe with proper mobilization, training, sending and supporting, the church in Southern Africa is strategically positioned to make a difference in the region. It can also become a strong harvest force, exporting missionaries to other parts of the world.

Time is also overdue to form a mission mobilization network in the region, to wake-up the sleeping giant and mobilize the God-given resources and potential locked up in the Church.
The Euro-centric approach to mission sending and supporting has to be reviewed well, for an afro-centric approach of mission sending and supporting. Africans are the best missionaries to reach other Africans for Christ. It makes mission less expensive, and saves time with the elimination of cultural adaptation and language learning. Also in different parts of the world where doors are closed against our brothers from the West, African missionaries will be welcomed. We believe Africa`s time in world evangelization is now. We are recommending a post MANISA `08 coming together of national, regional and organizational mobilization outfits for cross-pollenization of ideas and sharing of models that work. Contact us today.
Nicholas D. Osameyan

* Published with Permission from the Regional Coordinator for Southern Africa of MANI

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Nicholas D. Osameyan

AFRICAN MISSIONS – MY STORY!

The pin-drop silence was too loud for me. A quick look behind confirmed we were still all there; – seated, heads bowed, like people condemned to death. Again, I muttered under my breath, like I had done nearly a thousand times before: “I shall not die but live, and declare the works of the Lord!”

The alarm for announcements beeped, and the sonorous voice of the captain came on: “Ladies and gentlemen, you are aware that we have been flying through an area of serious turbulence. The weather in the airspace of Monrovia is difficult with visibility as low as 200 meters; – not suitable for landing! Except this situation changes in the next few minutes, I may have to go put this plane down in Freetown instead. We would need to refuel and wait for better weather before coming back to Monrovia. However I want you to be relaxed, I have been flying for forty-three years and I will do my best to make this flight as safe and comfortable as possible. Thank you.”

From where I sat by the window on seat 22A, I could see what appeared like the dark shadows of evil presence gnawing at the wings of our airplane and shaking up the Boeing 770 aircraft like a little boy’s paper kite in a windy field. I had prayed all the prayers I knew, since we flew into this impossible weather an hour earlier. I even confessed all the sins I had confessed many times before and asked the Lord to prepare me for home coming if this were to be my last flight. However, I had been in difficult flights on mission trips around Africa before and somehow; I sensed that this one would not be different, – we shall not crash! At least, I believed that God would not permit that our team of one hundred missionaries coming from Nigeria to do missions in Liberia would all die in a crash. Just like that? However my discomfort knew no bounds when the pilot announced that our safety would be a factor of his forty-three years of flying experience. God forbid! Was it not the Psalmist who said: “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.”

After about 30 minutes of further intensive struggles against the recalcitrant weather, our airplane landed safely at the Lungi International airport in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Probably I was the only passenger who did not join the clapping galore that greeted touch down. Many passengers were determined to alight here in Freetown and do the rest of the 542-kilometer journey by road to Monrovia. Was it not an Igbo proverb that said that the ring that is meant for the ear should never be tried in the eye? However, unlike most other passengers, I knew the battle was only just beginning. God specifically sent us to do mission in three provinces of Liberia. He instructed us to give priority attention to the children because, as He said, the adult population was almost destroyed. He asked us to work amongst the local Liberian pastors and denominations and teach them how we worship and do ministry. So you see, the instructions were succinct and clear, the venue; well known! However here we were in Freetown, a clear 542 kilometers away from our destination. My brethren asked me: What do we do?

I cast my mind back to recall what I had learnt about Liberia before undertaking this mission. According to history, Eighty-eight free black settlers and three members of the American Colonization Society (ACS) sailed from the United States to found Liberia in 1821. After the abolition of slave trade, the black race in the USA was declared free but their tendency for rapid growth became a new threat and a new problem for the American society. The ACS was therefore formed to solve this problem by resettling the blacks in Africa. From that time in 1821 to today, the kingdom of darkness seemed to have taken a special interest in keeping peace and God away from Liberia. According to Tom Schich, “From the beginning, the colonists were attacked by indigenous peoples whose territory this was, such as the Malinke tribes. In addition, they suffered from disease, the harsh climate, lack of food and medicine, and poor housing conditions.”[1] The economy of Liberia has always been poor and donor supported. Two civil wars later, and another against the dreaded Ebola pandemic, Liberia was virtually brought to her knees politically, economically and spiritually. Through it all, God did not keep quiet. In fact, God has a special interest in Liberia as he has in the rest of Africa! Over the years, God has sent missionaries to go and help the recovery and the building up of the spiritual fabrics of the country of Liberia. As at 2017, the population of Liberia is 4.35 million and five out of her thirty-nine people groups are still unreached by the gospel. Only 38% of the population is Christian out of which, only 10.8% are evangelicals while ethnic religions still command dominance amongst the people of Liberia.[2]

With all of the above in mind, on that fateful day of our bizarre flight to Monrovia that rather landed in Freetown, when the question was popped by the one hundred frightened missionaries: “What do we do sir? Can we go back to Lagos from here?” No better answer came to my mind than the words of Queen Esther in Esther 4:16: “I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” So I told my missionary team: “God sent us to Liberia and to Liberia we shall go. Though all the demons of West Africa may congregate against us; though the weather may be impossible, we shall yet land in Liberia, and if along this way we perish, we shall neither be the first nor the last!”

Eventually we all braved it and headed back to Liberia and this time, the pilot succeeded in making a safe landing at the Roberts International Airport in Monrovia. Then for the next several weeks, God used us to lead several hundreds of children, men, women and youth to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. We partnered with twenty indigenous Liberian churches, trained their pastors and children workers and evangelized side by side with their church workers to grow their churches. The outcome was the strengthening of the indigenous Christian movement in Liberia, which is a better strategy for reaching the unreached than the popular planting of foreign cultured churches in African countries.

BACKGROUND STORY OF AFRICAN MISSIONS

The accounts of the New Testament of the Bible relate how on several occasions, Africans witnessed or participated in events in the lives of Jesus and his disciples. For example, Africans from Libya and Egypt witnessed on the day of Pentecost how the gospel was preached in their own native African languages (Acts 2:10.) Added to the converts that must have come from this encounter, was the Ethiopian Eunuch who himself got converted on the desert way from Jerusalem to Gaza (Acts 8:27–39.) Also Acts 11:20 spoke about men from the African nations of Cyprus and Cyrene who in Antioch, preached to men from Greece. It is popularly believed that Missions in Africa began with these men sharing their newfound faith with friends and relations in their various North African countries.

From North Africa, Christian missions began its spread in Africa going east towards Ethiopia and Eritrea. However with the invasion of Islam on North Africa from the 7th century, the spread of Christianity was halted and only thrived in Ethiopia and pockets of places in North Africa. When the Portuguese arrived in Africa in the 15th century, sub-Saharan Africa received the gospel just as the Dutch opened up Southern Africa to the light of the gospel from the 17th century. Also the quest of Western powers to colonize Africa opened greater doors for missionaries to come in and spread the gospel into the interiors of Africa where, before then, African Traditional Religion (ATR) held sway. Christian Missions spread quite fast thereafter. Says Christianity Today: “Only nine million Christians were in Africa in 1900, but by the year 2000, there were an estimated 380 million Christians.”[3] Also according to a 2006 Pew Forum on Religion and Public life study, 147 million African Christians were “renewalists” (Pentecostals and Charismatics).

However in many parts of Africa, though Christian Missions prospered, many adherents found it difficult to totally let go of ATR and this led to widespread syncretism that culminated in the labeling of African Christianity as ‘a mile wide and an inch deep.’ According to Rosalind Shaw and Charles Stewart:[4]

“In a relatively short time, Africa has gone from having a majority of followers of indigenous, traditional religions, to being predominantly a continent of Christians and Muslims. Since 2013, traditional African religions are declared as the majority religion only in Togo. Importantly, today within most self-declared Christian communities in Africa, there is significant and sustained syncretism with African Traditional Religious beliefs and practices.”[5]

Not withstanding this highly criticized corruption of the integrity of African Christianity, a new regime of African National Initiatives (ANI) has invaded the African spiritual space leading to spiritual revivals in many regions of Africa, massive conversions in many climes and a rebirth of true biblical Christianity in many nations of Africa. This new movement is completely indigenous to Africa. According to David Barrett, most of the 552,000 congregations in 11,500 denominations throughout Africa in 1995 are completely unknown in the West.[6] This new movement has made inroads even into Moslem enclaves leading to very hash jihadist responses as what we have seen happening in Nigeria where the aggressive incursion of the Church up north is being challenged by the murderous activities and church–burning escapades of the Boko Haram sect and the Fulani herdsmen. Says Patrick Johnstone, “A 2015 study estimates 2,161,000 Christian believers from a Muslim background in Africa, most of them belonging to some form of Protestantism.” [7]

It is hoped that this new move of God in Africa will not be quenched after some time like has been witnessed with revivals around the world; rather that this will evolve into an end time fire that will engulf the world and prepare the church for the final actualization of the mandate of Matthew 28:19 towards the ethne of this world and for their final dance of Revelations 7:9 &10. The Yale University historian, Lamin Sanneh, captures this hope when he opined that “African Christianity was not just an exotic, curious phenomenon in an obscure part of the world, but that African Christianity might be the shape of things to come.” [8]

THE STORY OF AFRICAN NATIONAL INITIATIVES

There is a Movement for African National Initiatives (MANI) to which this writer belongs. In fact, yours truly is the Regional Coordinator for West Africa 2 Region of MANI. The Movement for African National Initiatives is a grassroots African movement “committed to catalyzing the Body of Christ in Africa to work in strategic partnership to disciple the nations and to send Africans in mission around the world.” [9]

As there would be no point in attempting to ‘reinvent the wheel’, I have lifted the following story of African National Initiatives by permission from the website of the Movement for African National Initiatives.

An African National Initiative is a strategic, national process designed to mobilize the whole Body of Christ to complete the Great Commission within its borders and to send Africans in mission to the least evangelized of the world. The goal is to see healthy churches transforming every community throughout a nation and beyond. United by common vision and solid information, national initiatives take a unique form in every country and assume a local name, such as Ghana Evangelism Committee, Nigeria Finish-The-Task Network; the World Evangelization Network of South Africa, Finish the Task (Kenya-FTT), the Zimbabwe National Evangelism Task, the Disciple Namibia Movement, and continental/global networks as such Transformation Africa and Global Day of Prayer, to mention but a few.

Nearly half of the countries in Southern Africa are engaged in some expression of a National Initiative. The first National Initiative in the region was launched in Zimbabwe in the early 1990s. Called “Target 2000”, this strategic partnership involved 60 denominations in an effort to plant 10,000 congregations in un-churched areas by the end of the decade. Intrigued by what was happening across their borders, Swaziland sent a group of leaders from 13 denominations to attend the Target 2000 national congress in 1992. Profoundly challenged, they returned home and helped the three major church associations to launch a partnership called the “Swaziland Evangelism Task.”

The AD2000 & Beyond Movement, and in particular, GCOWE 97, was used by God to light the fire of additional national movements across the region. The Namibia delegation was inspired to launch the Transformation Namibia movement, with significant strides made in networking church, business and government leaders. Building upon the foundation of the Love Southern Africa initiative, The Evangelical Alliance of South Africa helped to initiate the World Evangelization Network of South Africa (WENSA), which serves as a network of ministry streams within the country.

The Malawi National Initiative for Missions and Evangelism took initial steps following GCOWE ’97 and the Copperbelt Survey began as a pilot project in Zambia in the years to follow. Lesotho has explored the initiation of a National Initiative and strong interest has been expressed in Botswana. The Portuguese-speaking countries of Africa converged at MANI 06 and voiced their commitment to encourage one another in the formation of national movements.

Each initiative is at a different stage of development. Several are vital and growing. Some are in the exploratory stage. Others may need revitalization. Yet all are expressive of the desire among many African leaders to mobilize the whole Body of Christ to fulfill the Great Commission within their nation and beyond.[10]

THE STORY OF ONE AFRICAN NATIONAL INITIATIVE: – MISSIONS AID INTERNATIONAL (MAI)

IN THE BEGINNING …
Missions Aid International (MAI) is a Non Governmental Organization (NGO) and a mission arm of the Charismatic Renewal Ministries (CRM), a mission-based Christian denomination based in Nigeria. Born in 1980, the Ministry has over 600 branches in Nigeria, Africa, Europe and America. The process of growing brought the Ministry face to face with tough missional issues like the faith of unreached peoples, Muslims and Diaspora people. Today the Ministry has taken a positive stand with God on these issues and, driving with about 250 field missionaries, is making positive impact especially amongst unreached peoples in Africa; using free Medicare, free vocational training and community development projects, which are the trade marks of Missions Aid International (MAI.)

MAI focuses on taking the gospel where no one else wants to go. Great testimonies have followed MAI in the last twenty years as we carried the gospel message into more than sixty-five unreached locations in Nigeria and over twenty in various African countries. Since 2004, CRM and Missions Aid International have entered Ghana, Togo, Cameroon, Gambia, Benin Republic, South Africa, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda. In each country, the land has been delivered from the hand of the kingdom of darkness and several hundreds of indigenes were given practical vocational training and empowered to become useful to their communities; socially, economically and spiritally.

SOME OF THE SHORT STORIES OF MAI MISSIONS …
1. ITAKA

Located in Etung LGA of Cross River State, it took a visitor about three hours of local boat ride in those days, to arrive in Itaka from Ikom. As of that time in 1998, an 80-year-old indigene was yet to see a bicycle for the first time. While civilization was too far from them, occultism and witchcraft were rife. When Missions Aid International entered the land of Itaka in 1998, their king, Chief Enya, declared that we were the first ‘Government’ they had ever seen. We entered the land with Free Medicare and Welfare projects alongside the strong preaching of the gospel. Our powerful challenge against their occultism and witchcraft led to the public burning of five shrines and the public repentance of two of their chief priests. The ruling Epe cult was sacked and their hall and occult paraphernalia were burnt during a holy riot conducted by the repentant Itaka youth. The event nearly turned fatal as the revenge-seeking cultists surrounded the missionaries with machetes and other weapons. At that point the Lord led Pastor EmmaJoe to challenge them to a power contest. He told them that the first among them to step forward to kill anybody would fall down and die immediately. At that point all the cultists withdrew.

As majority of Itaka people saw the power of Jesus, they repented of their sins and godlessness and turned to God. Today, God has rewarded them for accepting Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. The Lord used Missions Aid International to establish an International Secondary School in Itaka in 2003 and in April 2010 we constructed a jetty (habour) worth several millions of naira for Itaka people at their beach head. The Lord has also turned the heart of the State Government to Itaka. Now they have a state school, hospital and ongoing electrification project. Also a road has been constructed that finally connected Itaka by land to the rest of the world! Praise the Lord!

2. GIDAN GIZO

This is a Maguzawa community in Sumaila LGA of Kano State. They are believed to be among the original settlers of Kano State but they were instructed by their forefathers never to accept Islam. And just like the Rechabites of Jeremiah 35, they have fastidiously obeyed their forefathers and rejected Islam up to this day. This has cost them too much because the sharia state Government of Kano has given it back to them by ensuring that no form of civilization entered the land of Gidan Gizo! The Government ensured that all other villages around them have good roads, electricity, water boreholes, schools, hospitals and even mosques financed by the State while Gidan Gizo remained a bush without any motorable road or any other amenities. The water they drank from their hand dug well has the colour of milk. The people died of cheap sicknesses, as they were not allowed to visit hospitals in neighbouring Moslem villages unless they were willing to convert to Islam. Their children too did not go to school for the same reason. What was most bizarre as at then was that the Gidan Gizo people who rejected Islam in preference to Christianity knew nothing about Jesus Christ, except the cross they hung on the doors of their mud houses. This was the physical and spiritual state of these persecuted and abandoned people until God led MAI missionaries to discover them in 2006. Since then, their story has changed! The Lord has used us to provide the missing amenities in Gidan Gizo including water borehole, school, clinic and electrification. Also a big church has been built for them and a missionary family now lives among them and is teaching them how to live as true Christians.

3. IBWA

When we discovered this community, near Abuja, in 2002, there was only one known Christian from the community. Every other indigene was a Moslem! However when the Lord sent us to this potentially suicidal mission, we entered the land with the Bible in one hand and Free Medicare and other life enhancing gifts on the other. To the glory of God, we were well received to the extent that the chief of Ibwa gave us a free land for the building of a Christian church. Today, Christianity has taken root in Ibwa.

4. KAFFIN KORO

In some mission fields, we were presented with the dilemma of choosing either to abandon the gospel or surrender our lives. To the glory of God, we have been consistent in choosing not to abandon the gospel. In Kaffin Koro, Niger State, in 2005, the Sharia State Government banned Missions Aid International from preaching publicly in their state, just before the well-advertised crusades were to commence. By God’s grace, we boldly ignored them and went ahead with the crusade, which recorded over three thousand adults in attendance every night for six days. Midway into the program, the State Security Service arrested the Missions Director, Pastor Emmanuel Nwachukwu, but released him same day with a stern warning never to preach in the state anymore. However, from the SSS office, Pastor Nwachukwu returned to the crusade ground and the program continued for three more days until the Kaffin Koro people believed and confessed that Jesus Christ is the Lord! On the very last day of the crusade, the very SSS official that arrested Pastor Emmanuel on day three, returned to the crusade ground, this time, not to arrest but to apologize to him. Praise God!

5. AMALA: The Land Between the Living and the Dead.

Amala is a small community close to Obollo-Afor in Enugu State of Nigeria. It is situated as a boundary town with parts of Benue State. Amala is an ancient and strong traditional Igbo town, with very special and peculiar spiritual significance. Amala is regarded as the land (boundary) between the living and the dead. It is traditionally believed that any person that died anywhere can be seen at Amala during a particular festival. Towards the end of this festival period, the elders (Ndi Ichie) and the Chief priest go towards the northern part of the community to have meetings with the spirits of the dead, who give them instructions on how to conduct their affairs for the next one year. The level of Christian witness was very low until August, 1992, when we carried out a mission outreach to that community. There was no Pentecostal church of any sort there. There was just a Catholic Church and Jehovah’s Witness group that had probably less than 12 members according to reports. We were informed from our pre-camp survey that every attempt that was made by any group ended in open frustration by the spirits in the land.

Unfortunately those who attend the Catholic Church were involved in the same occult practices. By God’s grace we were able to plant a church, which took a long time to survive, but the good news today is that, having broken the spell on the land, most of the mainstream Pentecostal Churches have now come in to plant and run churches. One of the things that brought us to that land was a report published in a news magazine saying-“Nobody goes to Amala unless he is tired of life”. In a sense it was true, because the few prospering young men and women from Amala do not come home at all. There were so many tales of the exploits of spirits and their interference with everyday life of the people. One of such reports was the encounter of a young man apparently wearied from his journey, who turned beside the road to urinate. As he started, a female voice spoke to him from the ground asking, “is there no other place for you to do this apart from this bed I have prepared to sleep on with my children?” The man, who was sure that there was no other person within sight or earshot, became petrified and almost went comatose out of fear. Much later when he recovered and told his story, he was informed that they truly live among spirits and that the area where he ventured to was one of the habitations of the spirits.
When we were preparing for the outreach in August, 1992, a colleague of one of our brothers working at Nsukka then, told him plainly: “You don’t need to preach to me again. As soon as you go to Amala and come back in one piece, I will repent and follow you”. Of course he added, “I’m sure you will die or come back mentally affected.” He was wrong!

6. BORTIANOR, GHANA

Bortianor in Ghana was known as the headquarters of witchcraft in West Africa. When Missions Aid international entered the land in 2004, not only did power change hands but the chief priest of the Papla witchcraft deity surrendered his life to Jesus! Today, the transformational anointing of MAI has yielded fruit in Bortianor. Civilization has entered Bortianor including roads, mega buildings and 4-star hotels.

7. LOME, TOGO

In the year 2005, MAI executed a project that started a new church in Lome, capital of Togo. Soon after the project, God used the converts of that program to start a revolution in other areas of Togo. One of them, Appom Faustin, was chosen as the new chief priest of his village shrine soon after he became born again at our program. He not only stood for Christ against his whole village of Agome Koutoukpa but single handedly destroyed the oracle and all their totems of worship, presenting Jesus to them as the only true God!

8. ENUMGBA

This is a community in Agatu Local Government Area of Benue State. Again, here were a people held hostage by witchcraft and idolatry. Agatu is the headquarters of where the spiritual insurance against death by gunshots is done in Nigeria. In fact, the evening our missions team arrived in Enumgba, ten elderly witches in a single file, six women and four men, danced around the village with short brooms in their hands cursing us, their unwelcome visitors! Why were we not welcome? Because by the law of the reigning evil in Enumgba, nothing good must come into the community! However the grace of God was with us as usual. We built a market for the Enumgba people, which is what the community leaders told us they needed. We started three new thriving churches in Enumgba and neighbouring communities and were used by God to restore sight to a blind four-year-old boy.

IN CONCLUSION, SO WHAT?

This is no time to admire and praise those who are labouring! Many admired Jesus in His days but He told them to ‘FOLLOW ME’ and not just admire Him! As the end times approach, the battles for the souls of men are getting much tougher! We don’t have “four months” before the harvest any more! The harvest is no more over ripe! Those who are not in Christ today are virtually in hell! No wonder Jude says we should save them out of the very fire! (Jude 23). Do not allow your self to be caught at the wrong end of eternity; the place where unfruitful vessels are sent to chill out! I can still hear the angry voice of the Master ordering: ‘Cut It Down! Why Cumbereth it the Ground?’ (Luke 13:7)

There is a role you can play in this end time army! You can Go, Give or/and Groan. Any one, but do it right now. It has already been sworn that there is time no more!

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ENDNOTES


[1] Schick, Tom W. (1980). Behold the Promised Land: A History of Afro-American Settler Society in Nineteenth-Century Liberia. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
[2] https://joshuaproject.net/continents.
[3] “Gospel Riches, Africa’s Rapid Embrace of Prosperity Pentecostalism Provokes Concern and Hope”, Christianity Today, July 2007.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Rosalind Shaw, Charles Stewart, Syncretism/Anti-Syncretism: The Politics of Religious Synthesis (1994).
[6]“Ecclesiastical Cartography and the Invisible Continent: The Dictionary of African Christian Biography” at http://www.dacb.org/xnmaps.html.
[7] Johnstone, Patrick; Miller, Duane (2015). “Believers in Christ from a Muslim Background: A Global Census”. IJRR. 11: 14. Retrieved 22nd March 2017.
[8] R Lamin Sanneh. “Historian Ahead of His Time”, Christianity Today, February 2007.
[9] http://maniafrica.com/mani-an-overview/
[10] http://maniafrica.com/mani-an-overview/

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Emmanuel Nwachukwu
Pastor Emmanuel Nwachukwu is the Executive Director of Missions Aid International. A 1984 graduate of Accountancy from the University of Nigeria, Nwachukwu is also a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and the Managing Partner of Emmanuel Nwachukwu & Co. (Chartered Accountants). He holds a Doctorate in Ministry Degree in Transformational Christian Leadership from the West Africa Theological Seminary, Lagos, Nigeria. He is also the Executive Chairman of Change Publications Limited, a leading printing, and publishing outfit based in Lagos.
Dr. Nwachukwu is the Nigeria Regional Coordinator for the Movement for African National Initiatives (MANI), Nigeria/Anglophone West Africa 2 Region. He is also the National Director of Missions in the Charismatic Renewal Ministries (CRM) and the Senior Pastor of Amazing Grace Centre and other CRM.

MAPPING AND MISSIONS RESEARCH IN AFRICA: THINKING OUT OF THE BOX

INTRODUCTION

Our Lord Jesus said to his disciples,” But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) We are, therefore, to be witnesses for Jesus Christ, in our local village town or city, in our country, in our region of the world and to all nations. This paper focuses on how missions research and particularly mapping in missions research can be a valuable tool in assisting with the task of reaching out with the Gospel message, especially in the continent of Africa. Current trends and developments in mapping for missions research in Africa are highlighted and some interesting examples of the use of mapping in missions research are presented.

World-wide, there is mostly a negative perception of Africa. When you ask people what they think of Africa they often mention poverty, corruption, crime, war, tribal and religious conflicts, AIDS/HIV, Malaria and other diseases, famine, droughts, floods, limited technological advancements, lack of adequate education and dependence on outside aid and resources. Africa is known as the Dark Continent. Africa does have many problems and challenges and certainly is in great need of the Gospel message. However, there is some good coming out of Africa. There is a growing Christian Church and this church is beginning to understand its role to be witnesses for Christ throughout the continent and beyond. There are also some positive trends regarding how maps and research are being used to assist with this task.

MAPS, CARTOGRAPHY AND GIS

A map is a graphic representation, usually on a flat piece of paper of part or all of the world. There is information of one kind or another on the map. A map can be a useful simplified representation of the real world and can show in a visual way what can take many words, graphs or tables of data and information to describe. Mapping or cartography is the art and science of drawing maps. Christian missions and outreach takes place in a geographical setting in some part of our world and so much information which is useful in missions and outreach can be effectively communicated by means of a map such as where the least-reached peoples of the world are, where are the churches in my city etc. Thus in missions and missions research, maps are very valuable tool. Related to the discipline of cartography is the discipline of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) which is the collection, storage and analysis of geographical (spatial) data as well as the presentation of the results of such analysis, often in the form of maps. GIS is usually a computer-based technology. Since missions takes place in geographical space and much spatial (geographic), data and information is useful in planning the task of missions such as what does the community within a 5 kilometre radius of my church look like, GIS can also be a very useful tool in missions research and strategy.

MANI

The Movement for African National Initiatives (MANI) is an African movement committed to mobilizing the Body of Christ in Africa to fulfill the Great Commission (see http://www.maniafrica.com). One way MANI is trying to achieve this is through assisting in the establishments of National Initiatives in each country of Africa that would be a partnership of churches, indigenous mission organizations and individual Christians who would work together to reach their country and beyond with the Gospel message. In doing this MANI is also seeking to help the church in Africa to become less dependent on the rest of the world in advancing the Kingdom of God in the continent and so help change the negative perception of the African Church as unable to do the task without help from places such as Europe, North America and Korea.

MANI is seeking to mobilize the church in Africa for missions. In order to effectively plan for this task accurate and up to date information is needed of what the church is already doing, who are the people needing to be reached with the Gospel, and where they are to be found. Much of this information can best be displayed in the form of a map. Inserv has been tasked with assisting MANI with research for the Southern African region and an important component of this research involves mapping. Some of the examples of mapping presented below are related to this research.

THE HISTORY OF MAPPING IN MISSIONS RESEARCH

Mapping or cartography has a very long history over many centuries. The main focus of this brief overview is not on all of the history of cartography but mostly on the history of the link between cartography and missions research. According to the knowledge of the author, the first use of maps and missions research to mobilize for world missions was by the famous Baptist Missionary to India, William Carey. While Carey was pastoring a church in England from 1786 to 1793, he had to supplement his income by the trade of shoe making. In his shoe maker’s shop he had a map on the wall made up of a number of pieces of paper stuck together on which he had drawn a crude map of the world with each of the known countries. As he gathered information about the area, population, religion etc. for each country he would write these in the space for the appropriate country on the map. In 1792 this information together with other research was published in the book titled, “An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens in which the Religious State of the Different Nations of the World, the Success of Former Undertakings, and the Practicability of Further Undertakings, are considered.” (Carey, 1792; Smith, 1909) A major contribution to mapping and missions research was made by the missionary explorers who opened up many countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America for the Gospel as they explored places previously unknown in Europe and North America. Perhaps, the most famous of these missionary explorers was the Scot, David Livingstone (1813 – 1873) who explored many parts of Southern and Central Africa and in so doing both helped improve the maps of these regions and opened up these parts for other missionaries who would follow (Livingstone, 1857; Mackenzie, 1996).

In the 19th and early 20th centuries as printing and cartographic technologies improved and there was a growing focus on Christian missions from Europe and North America a number of Mission Atlases showing the status of Christianity and missions in the world were published (Fahs, 1925).[1]

Since World War II, there have been a number of technological developments which have had a major impact in the discipline of cartography and in particular the application of mapping in missions research. These mostly revolve around the developments in the fields of computers and the Internet. As a result of these developments more and more maps can be easily produced with the aid of computers and many who are not expert cartographers are now able to produce maps. Also maps can now be easily communicated around the world by means of e-mail and the World Wide Web. With a little knowledge and training many more people can now produce their own maps without going to a professional cartographer. Many of these maps can be published on the Web and some of these maps are even interactive allowing functions such as zooming in and out and displaying certain features from any computer connected to the Internet. A few examples of websites displaying such maps include http://www.worldmap.org, http://partnerts.worldmap.org and http://www.ywam4k.org.

The last development in the field of mapping for missions research to be highlighted is the establishment of Global Mapping International (GMI) in 1983. GMI is a mission organization based in Colorado Springs in the USA. The mission of GMI is to produce and present world-class research that fuels emerging mission movements and leaders. Much of this research has a mapping component. GMI is also now involved in the distribution of GIS and Mapping software built on the back of existing commercial software at very reasonable prices to people who will be using the software for Christian ministry purposes. GMI also provides training in the use of such software (see http://www.gmi.org). GMI, in partnership, with others is very active in Africa.

DEVELOPMENTS IN MAPPING FOR MISSIONS RESEARCH IN AFRICA
A number of Christian missions research projects have been conducted in Africa in recent years which have a strong mapping component. Some of these projects include:

  1. The Bamiléké research project in Cameroon (Bouwa, 2006) to understand the historical, socio-economic, anthropological and spiritual conditions of Bamiléké villages in order to better reach the Bamiléké tribe with the Gospel.
  2. Church mapping in various African countries and cities by organizations such as DAWN Africa, (http://www.dawnministries.org), OC Africa (http://www.ocafrica.net) and United Body of Christ (UBOC) (http://www.uboc.co.za).
  3. The Transformation Research Project conducted by the Unit for Religion and Development Research at the University of Stellenbsoch. This project was conducted in the Cape Town Metro as well as some other towns in the Western Cape Province of South Africa and included a strong mapping component that included the mapping of churches and other places of religious worship (Unit for Religion and Development Research, 2004).
  4. Mapping of HIV/AIDS ministries in the Valley of a Thousand Hills in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa by the Cross Connections Network (http://www.crossconnections.net).
  5. The Institute for Strategic Services (Inserv) has also been involved or is currently involved in some missions research projects in the context of MANI that have a mapping component. A number of these projects are used as examples in the following section of this paper. There is a growing interest in mapping for Christian ministry purposes in Africa and people from a number of different African countries have bought computer mapping and GIS software for ministry purposes through GMI. GMI has conducted computer mapping training in several African countries including Egypt and South Africa. Inserv has also conducted computer mapping training in Lesotho. Currently there is an interest in mapping training for Christian ministry applications from a number of African countries including Lesotho, South Africa, Namibia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Kenya and Egypt.

Most likely this training will be conducted by either GMI or Inserv, if not Inserv in partnership with GMI. There is a growing partnership between GMI and Inserv with a view to both mapping projects in Africa and training in the use of computer mapping software for ministry purposes in Africa.

So, it can be seen that in the area of mapping and missions research much good work has already been done in Africa and there are some exciting developments that, God willing, in the future will result in useful, reliable maps and information for the church in Africa which can assist them to more effectively reach out with the Gospel into their continent.

EXAMPLES OF MAPPINGS IN MISSIONS’ RESEARCH WITH A FOCUS ON AFRICA

In line with the command of our Lord Jesus Christ to be his witnesses in all the world but starting in our “Jerusalem” these examples will be grouped under three headings starting with examples at the local level then moving on the national level and finally looking at the regional, continental and global levels.

1. Local Level:

Mapping of the distribution of the percentages of young adults (20 – 34 years old) and those people who claim no religious affiliation was undertaken for the suburbs in the Roodepoort area of the city of Johannesburg in South Africa. The data comes from the last census conducted in South Africa which was in 2001.

The two maps are shown in figure 1 below. These maps show that young adults and not children or youth (teenagers) make up the largest percentage of the population in the region. Although a detailed statistical analysis of the data has not been completed it would appear from the maps that the general trend is for suburbs with a higher percentage of young adults also to have a higher percentage of people claiming no religious affiliation. With some local knowledge of the situation in the region one could give some possible explanations for these trends but there is not time to explore these in this paper. These maps should be a motivation for Christian churches in the area not only to focus on ministry to youth and children but also seek ways of reaching young adults in their neighborhood with the Gospel message.

2. National Level:

UBOC is involved in mapping and capturing data for all the churches in South Africa. Inserv and UBOC have started discussions with the Sports Ministry Partnership in South Africa (SMPSA) as to ways in which this mapping and information could be used to assist the SMPSA in their planned outreach before, during and after the FIFA World Cup to be held in South Africa during June and July 2010. One suggested way of using the maps would be to identify churches located in close proximity to the 10 stadiums that will be hosting games and mobilizing them to become involved in evangelism and outreach during the World Cup.

A start has been made on mapping the distribution of the speakers of the 11 official languages of South Africa down to a sub-place level from the 2001 census data. In an urban area a sub-place is equivalent to a suburb and in a rural are a sub-place could be equivalent to a village. Knowledge of language distribution can be very useful when doing church planting or planning various forms of outreach and evangelism. Often there is a need for such information at a more detailed level than just a whole city or province.

3. Regional / Continental / Global Level:

There are plans to extend the mapping of languages in South Africa to include both the mapping of ethnic and social people groups as well as to include all the countries in the Southern African Region (South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Angola, Zambia and Malawi) as accurate and up to date data on the languages and people groups in these countries is gathered from various sources. This mapping project will assist MANI in providing the church in the region with good information that will help them in fulfilling the Great Commission in each of their nations.

Discussions have begun between Inserv and GMI as well as some other organizations in Africa who are involved in mapping for missions about the possibility of producing an AfricaVue CD that would contain many maps of missions interest for Africa. Such a CD would be a valuable resource for churches, mission agencies and individual missionaries in Africa and could also help to mobilize the church in Africa towards missions. Some of the maps already mentioned in this paper as well as other maps, some of which have already been produced and some still to be produced, could be included on such a CD.

Inserv has produced a map of the 10/40 window for South African Action for World Evangelization (SAAWE). The 10/40 window is the region of the world between 10° N and 40° N in North Africa, the Middle East and Asia that contains the largest portion of the world’s population as well as the largest number of ethno-linguistic people groups that are still least reached with the Christian Gospel. SAAWE is sending many mission teams to this region of the world. A reduced version of the map is shown in figure 2 below. The original map is a wall sized map. The map illustrates a different way of representing the religious composition of each country. Simply to colour each country with a colour to represent the largest religion for each country, which has been done on some other maps, does not present the whole picture. For example in South Korea, 35.02% of the population are non-religious, 31.67% are Christian, in the widest definition of the term, and 23.89% are Buddhist (Johnstone et. al., 2001). Simply to use one colour on the map to indicate the largest religious grouping in South Korea as non-religious does not show the full picture. Similarly in Eritrea 47.97% of the population is Muslim and 47 43 % are Christian (Johnstone et. al., 2001). Again indicating the major religion of the country as Islam does not give the full picture. Thus a pie chart for each country was placed on the map showing the percentages of each of the main religions in each country, which better depicts the religious composition of each country. The map also gives an indication of the population of each country. Such a map is a very valuable resource to churches and mission organization, such as SAAWE, who are sending missionaries into the 10/40 window. The church in a number of African countries is starting to send missionaries to a number of countries in the 10/40 window.

FUTURE CHALLENGES FOR MAPPING FOR MISSIONS RESEARCH IN AFRICA

The first challenge for mapping for missions research in the African context is to convince indigenous church and mission leaders in Africa of the value of mapping in mission’s research and how it can be a useful tool in helping the church to more effectively fulfill the Great Commission in Africa. Recent experience has shown that the best way of meeting this challenge is to show a person a map that clearly shows some information that is of value to them and their ministry.

The second challenge for mapping and missions is good quality data and information. A map is only as good as the data and information on which it is based. Incorrect data will result in a map that displays a wrong picture of reality. A map may look very nice but if it displays wrong information it is worthless. There is a need to train good Christian researchers in Africa who can gather and analyze accurate data that will help the church on the continent in the task of missions. Much of this data can be displayed in map form in order to highlight certain trends.

The final challenge to be mentioned in this paper is the need for additional resources (personnel, finances, equipment) to complete some of the mapping projects planned for Africa. Although this may be a major obstacle, the church in Africa needs to look at innovative ways of raising the needed resources and not just look to places such as Europe, North America and Korea to supply all the needs in this regard.

CONCLUSIONS

Although the continent of Africa has many challenges and problems we can be encouraged that the Gospel, by God’s grace, is making progress in the continent and that not everything coming from Africa is negative. We can also be encouraged that in a number of African countries there is a new zeal for evangelism, church planting and missions with the goal of seeing “the earth filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” (Habakkuk 2:14). Missions research and in particular mapping is playing an increasing role in this growing missions movement in Africa.

There are a number of exciting developments in this field and this paper has shown a number of different examples of mapping in missions research and how they can help the church in Africa with the task of fulfilling the Great Commission, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19 – 20)

REFERENCES
Beach, H. P. 1903. A Geography and Atlas of Protestant Missions: Volume II, Statistics and Atlas. New York: Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions. Cited in http://www.sahistory.org.za/pages/places/mission-stations/sources.htm.
Beach, H. P., Denis and Fahs, C. H., 1910. Statistical Atlas of Christian Missions. Edinburgh: Survey and Occupation Commission of World Missionary Conference. Cited in Fahs, C. H., 1925. Making a Missionary Atlas. International Review of Missions, 14, 1925. Available at http://www.worldmap.org/overview_3.php.
Beach, H. P. and Fahs, C. H. (with maps by Bartholomew, J.), 1925: World Missionary Atlas. New York: Institute of Social and Religious Research. Cited in http://protocat.nla.gov.au/Record/2668083 and http://www.worldmap.org/overview_3.php
Bouwa, A., 2006: Research Report: Project Bamiléké: A Study of the Historical, Socioeconomic, Anthropological and Spiritual Condition of Bamiléké Villages. Douala: Mission BINAM. Translated by Lepillez, K. Available at http://www.gmi.org/research/bouwa.htm.
Carey, W., 1792. An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathenism which the Religious State of the Different Nations of the World, the Success of Former Undertakings, and the Practicability of Further Undertakings, are considered. [e-book]. Leicester: Ann Ireland. Available at: http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/11449
Fahs, C. H., 1925. Making a Missionary Atlas. International Review of Missions, 14, 1925. Available at http://www.worldmap.org/overview_3.php.
Grundemann, R. 1867-1871. General Missionary Atlas. Gotha: Justus Perthes. Cited in http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reinhold_Grundemann
Johnstone, P. Johnstone, R. and Mandryk, J. 2001: Operation World. Carlisle: Paternoster Lifestyle.
Livingstone, D., 1857. Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa. [e-book]. London: John Murray. Available at: http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/1039
Mackenzie, J. M. ed., 1996. David Livingstone and the Victorian Encounter with Africa. London: National Portrait Gallery Publications.
Smith, G., 1909. The Life of William Carey, Shoemaker and Missionary. [e-book]. Available at: http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/2056. Unit for Religion and Development Research. 2004: Transformation Research Project (Cape Peninsular). Stellenbosch: Theology Faculty, University of Stellenbosch. Numerous reports available at http://academic.sun.ac.za/theology/Centres/Egon/trp/trp.htm.
* Published with Permission.
ENDNOTES


[1] The following is a list of some of the most significant of these atlases (only those from a Protestant perspective are mentioned):
1867 – 1871: General Missionary Atlas in 4 volumes by Rev. Reinhold Grundemann (Germany)
1903: Geography and Atlas of Protestant Missions by Rev. Prof. Harlan P. Beach (USA)
1910: Statistical Atlas of Christian Missions by Survey and Occupation Commission of the World Missionary Conference (Edinburgh, Scotland) (Edited by Prof Beach, Dr Dennis and Charles H. Fahs) – and expanded American edition was published in 1911.
1925: World Missionary Atlas by Beach and Fah with maps by John Bartholomew (USA).

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Pierre Wedepohl
Pierre Wedepohl worked at the Institute for Strategic Services in South Africa as the Director of the Mapping Ministry from 2005 to 2014. Since July, 2014 he has been a high school teacher teaching Geography, Tourism and Social Science. Pierre currently serves on the church council of his local congregation of REACH SA (Reformed Evangelical Anglican Church of South Africa) as well as being the local area secretary of REACH SA.

DEALING WITH THE ‘ONE MILE WIDE BUT ONE INCH DEEP’ SYNDROME: AN AFRICAN INITIATIVE ON TRANSFORMATIONAL DISCIPLESHIP

We all know how popular it has become to describe the massive growth of Christianity in Africa in the last few decades of the 20th Century, as being ‘one mile wide and one inch deep.’ Some speakers, especially those from outside Africa, tend to use this statement in some derogatory manner.

We should not mistake this phenomenon for a stigma, or an indictment on Africans. We should rather consider it as an appropriate and timely identification of Africa’s crucial spiritual challenge for this moment. This challenge became obvious when an African theologian tried to evaluate the impact or outcome on Africa, of the 20th Century global church initiatives on the Great Commission. He observed that the continent experienced tremendous numerical growth and spread of churches. But he also observed that generally, the believers’ lifestyles did not conform to the character of Christ as expected. There was a poor level of spiritual depth. It is this incongruence that he referred to as a “one mile wide and one inch deep” phenomenon.

The ‘one mile wide and one inch deep’ phenomenon seems to be a concealed and unacknowledged global phenomenon. The research report of Patrick Johnstone and Jason Mandryke supports this view. In the first ten pages of their book, Operation World: 21st Century Edition (2001), Patrick and Jason used statistical data to show that globally, Christianity was the most prosperous religion in the 20th Century. Many people groups were reached; souls were won, more churches were planted, and mega-churches sprang up. In this case, the growth of the church globally can be said to have been “one mile wide” or even something wider.

On page eleven of the same book, however, the authors listed as prayer points, nine specific major needs of the church arising from the 20th Century expansion of Christianity. The mistake so far is that church and mission leaders worldwide seem to have been contented with the report on growth, without giving some thought to the implication of the listed “needs”. Yet when considered more critically, each of the listed problems is symptomatic of decline in spiritual depth or biblical spirituality. And if taken together, the research report of Patrick and Jason clearly suggests that while the 20th Century church grew in number and spread, it declined in biblical spirituality or depth – just the same as was observed in Africa.

It is justifiable, therefore, to consider global trends in the 20th Century church growth as generally being ‘one mile wide and one inch deep.’ There was really nothing particularly unusual about Africa. Church and mission leaders should begin to accept the phenomenon as a global challenge.

WHAT WENT WRONG WITH THE HARVEST?

But an obvious question we should reflect upon at this point is why and how the growth of Christianity in Africa came to be ‘one mile wide and one inch deep’. Could it be that there was some deficit in the 20th Century emphasis and pursuit of aspects of the Great Commission, which invariably induced growth in number and spread, but unfortunately suppressed growth in spiritual depth? Answers to the above questions may provide some relevant insight as to how further global thrusts on fulfilling the Great Commission in the 21st Century can produce more balanced growth of Christianity, in any part of the world.

HOLISTIC CONCEPT OF THE GREAT COMMISSION

The 20th Century global church interpretation of the Great Commission was limited in focus and emphasis to the pursuit of missions, evangelism, church planting, church growth, and some allied interests. But when the Lord pronounced the Great Commission, Matthew recorded it in two verses (Mt 28:19-20). Part of the last verse states: “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you,” and, this implies discipleship. It is safe and appropriate therefore to think that the Lord Jesus had it clear in His mind that the Great Commission is a necessary cycle of three interdependent and equally important aspects: missions and evangelism; church planting and church growth; and discipleship.

When we pursue evangelism and missions, souls are won to Christ. When we pursue church planting and church growth, the souls won are brought into Christian fellowship and preserved. More churches are planted and some believers experience larger congregations. The 20th Century church stopped at this point.

Discipleship was usually skipped, though it should have been the next necessary, legitimate and vital component of the Great Commission to focus upon and pursue. Consequently, a natural imbalance in the spatial growth and spiritual depth of believers occurred.

Though we should really blame no one for this, it was such a limited perception of the Great Commission that also limited its pursuit in the last decades, and most probably created the “one mile wide and one inch deep’ problem.

But why was discipleship not focused upon and pursued? There may be several possible reasons, one of which could be a presumption that all church leaders know what discipleship is, know how to do it, and are really doing it. But the observed and documented decline in spiritual depth contradicts such a view.

Perhaps on a prophetic note, it could be that after the global church had gathered such a great harvest of souls, the Lord has destined the 21st Century to be the time for discipling them. Whichever, the challenge of discipleship stares us in the face.

SPIRITUAL DEPTH DEPENDS ON DISCIPLESHIP

The observed spiritual deficit in the growth of Christianity in Africa and other continents may have resulted to a large extent, from the obscurity of effective discipleship as legitimate and the ‘spiritual depth’- imbuing component of the Great Commission.

When Barnabas and Paul taught the converts in Antioch for a whole year, the believers reflected Christ in their behavior. Their contemporaries aptly described them as ‘Christians’ (Acts 11:26). We conclude from this and other instances in the scriptures that spiritual quality or depth is grown in people as they give themselves to some systematic teaching program and activities based on God’s word. Such a program is commonly referred to as discipleship. Its positive outcome is usually in the form of increasing Christ-likeness or spiritual depth in the believer’s life.

A possible answer could be that an effective discipleship program invariably has a transformational potential by which the lives of those subscribed to it become progressively changed, conforming to Christ-likeness. Therefore, whenever a general decline in biblical spirituality is observed, either there is no discipleship in place, or if available, lacked sufficient transformational potential.

So then, what every church in Africa and the rest of the globe needs to combat the ‘one mile wide and one inch deep’ phenomenon and fulfill the Great Commission holistically, is a focus, emphasis and pursuit of transformational discipleship.

Perhaps, if effective transformational discipleship was emphasized and pursued alongside missions, evangelism, church growth and church planting, Africa would have also grown in it, at the same time and with the same zeal we pursued the others. Then our testimony today could have been much different – probably a ‘one mile wide one mile deep’ phenomenon!

KEY TO THE FUTURE OF GLOBAL CHRISTIANITY

In this 21st Century, discipleship should rightly be perceived globally as the key to the future of qualitative and sustainable Christianity. It has been the perennial deficit in all efforts made so far in fulfilling the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the time to give it a preferential attention and emphasis.

Moreover, if we are to reasonably solve the problems of declining spirituality; of waning interest, and of poor commitment among today’s professing Christians;

If we are to have sustainable missions and sustainable church planting programs and projects, beyond this our very generation;

If we are to raise genuine disciples of Christ in all nations of the world; and prepare His Bride for His soon coming;

Then the 21st Century church must give priority to transformational discipleship in any further emphases and implementation of the Great Commission.

THE BOLD STEP OF MANI

At the Movement for African National Initiatives (MANI) conference which was held in Nairobi from 27th February to 4th March 2006, discipleship was considered. To my mind, this was the first of its kind in a pro-mission gathering.

In this conference, the discipleship issue group recorded the highest number of participants compared with the others. It was obvious from this that more church leaders were indicating concern over the declining spirituality in our churches than on any of the other issues considered in the conference. I personally regarded this as a positive development consistent with, and necessary for confronting the challenge of realizing Africa’s destiny in this new century.

MANI did not wait for an outside prompting, but rather has set out boldly to address the ‘spiritual depth’ deficit issue, as well as to pursue the transformation of Christianity in Africa. For these goals to be effectively realized, the Movement decided henceforth to recognize the indispensability of transformational Discipleship, and to integrate it into a holistic pursuit of the Great Commission.

We in MANI believe that the vital force which believers in our continent (and the rest of the world) require for sustaining our continuous and consistent spiritual growth, and galvanize the church beyond this and other generations, depends critically on qualitative or effective transformational discipleship.

If believers are effectively discipled for Christ, the church will have a spiritually active force, commitment shown by their lifestyles and witness, to a holistic and organic growth of themselves and the body of Christ, as well as to the fulfillment of all aspects of the Great Commission.

It is common knowledge that non-discipled church members may need to be urged to evangelize, go on missions or even support missions. But true disciples of Christ evangelize characteristically, and are willing to make sacrifices of their lives and substances for Christ and His Kingdom. This is our experience in the local church which I pastor.

I recommend, therefore, that the rest of the Christian world should consider MANI’s new orientation as a very bold step worth emulating, since particularly, spiritual decline has become unarguably a global phenomenon.

If we choose to overlook the obviousness of this, then we will most probably be the last generation to talk about the Great Commission with any meaningful passion and reasonable success.

My sincere prayer is that wherever mission and church leaders meet to deliberate on reaching the remaining unreached people groups in the world, we should also give the deserved attention to transformational discipleship as a necessary complement of what we have emphasized and pursued so far, as well as the biblical means for adding spiritual quality and eternal value to our sincere efforts.

————————- APPENDIX —————————–

MANI 2017 AFRICAN CONGRESS ON TRANSFORMATIONAL DISCIPLESHIP COMMUNIQUÉ

Out of the great need for transformational discipleship on the continent, and as adopted in the MANI Consultation of March 2016 in Addis Ababa, African Senior Church and Para-Church leaders gathered from May 1-5, 2017 at the Dimesse Sisters Retreat Center Karen, Nairobi. The aim of this important gathering was to deliberate on various discipleship models that could lead to a contagious transformational Christianity on the continent of Africa and beyond. The theme of the Congress was “Initiating a Transformational Discipleship Revolution in the Churches of Africa and the World”. The congress attracted 95 delegates of various denominations from 11 countries respectively:15 people from Ghana, 6 people from DR Congo, 8 people from Rwanda, 27 people from Kenya, 1 person from Zambia, 2 people from Tanzania, 2 people from Ethiopia, 28 people from Nigeria, 1 person from Malawi, 2 people from the United States of America, 3 people from the United Kingdom.

We want to deeply appreciate the warm welcome and hospitality accorded to the delegates of the Congress by the Dimesse Sisters. We commend the organizers under the coordination of Dr. Reuben Ezemadu and all the logistical support by our Sister Jane Waithaka, the MANI Administrative Assistant. We also want to give special recognition and thanks to the leadership of the MANI Transformational Discipleship Track, Drs. Uzo and Chinyere Obed.

The Congress was marked by early morning Devotions, the Keynote address by Dr. Obed and paper presentations on discipleship models. With focus on pursuit of a holistic fulfillment of the Great Commission and harmonization of the concept of discipleship in his Keynote address, Dr. Obed set the tone of the Congress. He emphasized that the Congress is to initiate a worthy revolution. The following discipleship models were subsequently presented:

  • Purpose Driven Movement
  • Alpha Course
  • Disciple Making Movement
  • Scripture Union
  • Believers Spiritual Growth
  • A case for Home-Based Spiritual Nurture
  • African Strategic Discipleship Movement
  • Your Kingdom Come
  • Acts 2:42 Initiative; and a few others.

The feeling at the Congress was a desperate need to see God create a discipleship revolution through the African Church that would sweep the entire continent and send missionaries overseas. Engaging discussions in small groups followed each presentation. The following 5 questions were used to guide the discussion in these break-up sessions.

  • How comprehensible was the presentation?
  • What do you consider to be the significant merits of the discipleship model?
  • Do you think it can work in your local church or denomination? Why do you think so?
  • Do you think the churches in Africa should try it out?
  • Do you have any other observation or suggestion?

It is our hope that when the final proceedings of the congress are released it will unleash an unstoppable discipleship revolution that our continent badly needs. There is a general call by the participants that all Church leaders will see the importance and urgency of Transformational Discipleship. They are urged to see how to adopt, adapt, and apply some of the Discipleship models irrespective of denominations.

Also, to help raise Christ-like disciples who will be agents of change, and provide the needed leadership to impact their society, communities and nations for Africa to realize its maximum potential.

Finally, we thank God who made this Congress possible and helped it to succeed tremendously. May His Kingdom come and His will be done!

=========================================
Uzo Obed
mail@uobed.org;
obed.aposdiscipleship@gmail.com
Dr. Uzo Obed was previously a University Lecturer. Later, the Lord used him and his wife to inaugurate the Glory Tabernacle Ministry in January 1990. After twenty one years of pastoring this ministry, they handed it over to a second generation of leaders. Presently, Dr Obed and his wife, Dr Chinyere Obed, are leading the MANI Transformational Discipleship Network, as well as the Apostolic Discipleship Movement International. They developed the Believers Spiritual Growth (BSG) discipleship program which they broadcast on TV and travel extensively to teach.

EDITORIAL: Mission In Africa

Africa is a continent composed of 54 countries. As of 2016 it was reported that its population have reached 1.2 billion people, accounting for about 16% of the world’s population. With this large number of people, do you have an idea about the current mission and church situation in the African continent? How can we assess whether the people in Africa have known our Lord Jesus Christ and are worshipping in Bible-believing churches?

If you are interested to know more about African mission, this issue is for you! We have invited several authors to share their papers about missions in their own African country, for us to know and understand the most recent happenings in the churches and missions in the African continent. Through our authors, we can learn about the joys of the accomplishments in sharing the good news to our African brothers and also have a better understanding of the needs and shortcomings of the African church.

First, we have the paper of Dr. Uzo Obed “Dealing with the ‘One Mile Wide But One Inch Deep’ Syndrome: An African Initiative on Transformational Discipleship.” Second we have “Mapping and Missions Research in Africa, Thinking Out of the Box” by Pierre Wedepohl. Third, Dr. Emmanuel Nwachukwu wrote African Missions – My Story. Fourth “Mission Mobilization in Southern Africa is shared by Nicholas Osameyan. Next is “Malawian Missions: Rising Above Limitations” by Innocent Magambi. There is also Africa in Missions: Africa Doing Missions in Diaspora by Emmanuel Bediako, one of the papers he wrote before he went with the Lord. We also added a Ministry Report on the East West Center by Timothy K. Park and a National Report on Zimbabwe Missions by P. F. Moyo. A bonus is also included : an interview with Dr. Reuben Ezemadu.

These authors wrote to inform and challenge us that there are still a big chunk of tasks to reach the unreached and give churches to the unchurched in Africa. We are grateful to MANI for the assistance they provided for us to acquire permits in publishing our contents for the AMA 56th issue!