Dr. David J. Cho was to the Global Mission Movement, David Yonggi Cho was to the Church Growth Movement. In fact, Dr. David J. Cho played a major role in championing the cause of the Two-Thirds World Missions efforts and was among the leaders from Asia, Africa, and Latin America that brought to limelight what the Lord was doing with the emerging missionary forces in the global South. Other contemporaries, comrades, and compatriots of his in advocating for and establishing a strong footing for the recognition of the emerging great mission forces from the two-thirds world then were Panya Baba (Nigeria Evangelical Missions Association), Jonathan Santos (Antioch Missions, Brazil), and Petrous Octavianus (Indonesia Missionary Fellowship).
As the President of the Korea International Missions (KIM) with North American Office at the USCWM in Pasadena, CA, he was a close associate of Ralph Winter and Dale Kietzman (both of the USCWM & William Carey International University) and Don Smith (founder of Daystar University Nairobi Kenya [Now African International University] and International Institute of Christian Communication -IICC that later became WorldView Center for Graduate Studies at the Western Theological Seminary, Portland, OR) who played significant roles in hosting and facilitating the inception of the Third World Missions Association (TWMA) [plus the World Link University] in 1988/89, and of which Dr. Cho was the Chairman and I served as the General Coordinator from 1989 to 1999.
Dr. David J. Cho stood out as the champion of the emergence of the harvest forces from the two-thirds world regions of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. His faith in the Lord of the Harvest for the Church from the global south, to accomplish her own quota in the Great Commission at a time when the older Church refused to embrace the great seismic shift in world missions, inspired and fired up those of us the younger ones who were craving for space to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives. He made us strongly believe that the Lord can use any child of His, irrespective of race, class, culture, or background.
I and my generation are grateful to the Lord for giving us such a model and mentor who helped us to overcome the timidity induced by the mentality of the ‘colonized’ people even in the Christian faith. He did marvelously well and reproduced himself in many other ‘David J. Chos’ all over the world of international missions.
He set the pace for us and has gone ahead of us to His reward. We will continue the good work he has established until it is our own time to return to our own reward!
It was the introduction of the Third World Mission concerns and input of the agenda from the majority world Church at the Lausanne II in Manila 1989 that sparked off the row that gave birth to the inception of the AD 2000 & Beyond Movement. As a matter of fact it was Dr. David J. Cho that made a presentation on the Third World Missions Movement at Lausanne II Manila 89, which stirred up the tension due to resistance from some of our Western brethren, jettisoning the focus that had been agreed upon by the leaders that gathered in Singapore in January 1989 at the instance of Thomas Wang, the then International Director of the Lausanne Movement, in preparation for the Lausanne II conference in Manila, September 1989. You know how that same resistance to what God was doing in and with the majority-world Church that became more obvious during the AD 2000 & Beyond Movement era, led to the pressure for the AD 2000 & Beyond Movement to close shop by December 2000. I recall that the majority of the drivers of the AD 2000 Movement were from the Global South (including Thomas Wang himself who resigned from the Lausanne Movement and became the Pioneer Chairman of the AD 2000 Movement) while our Western brethren made their own contributions almost from peripheral positions mainly as resource persons. I also recall, that the two major global consultations on world evangelization that period were hosted in and by the Church in the global South (Seoul, South Korea, 1995; and Pretoria, South Africa, 1997).
It was during the GCOWE 97 that the then ongoing ‘African National Initiatives’ across Africa [even before the Lausanne I (1974), Lausanne 2 (1989), and the inception of the AD 2000 Movement (1989)] was adopted by the AD 2000 Movement as a strategy of getting the whole Church in A Nation to take the Whole Gospel to Every Person and to Plant A Church among every people group in the whole world. There were already prayer movements aimed at bringing societal transformation and advance of the gospel in some countries of Africa (especially Nigeria (1977) and South Africa) before the Prayer & Spiritual Warfare initiative (coordinated by Peter Wagner) under the AD 2000 Movement came into existence. When the Celebrate Messiah 2000 which was to preside over the shut-down of the AD 2000 & Beyond Movement could no longer hold, it was only delegates from Africa who decided to go to Jerusalem in March 2001 under a very strong conviction that the Lord has a role for the African Church to play in His end-time global missions and agenda. This was confirmed during the time of prayer and worship, the 320 African delegates from 36 countries had with members of the International House of Prayer in Jerusalem. The Lord told us the reason He allowed only African delegates to Jerusalem after the cancellation of the CM 2000 meant for almost 4000 delegates from about 200 countries of the world. It was also during this Jerusalem encounter that we discovered that a number of the countries had set up their national initiatives-goals beyond the year 2000 AD. As a result of what the Lord told us and the fact that the vision of reaching our people in spite of the termination of the AD 2000 & Beyond Movement has stuck with our people, we made the decision to carry on with the National Initiatives vision hence the Jerusalem Declaration which gave rise to the inception of the Movement for African National Initiatives (MANI), continuing with the mobilization of people to focus on the remaining tasks, facilitation of collaborative efforts, and strategic engagement with the remaining unreached peoples within and beyond our continent.
That is what we have been doing throughout the past 19 years since MANI was inaugurated through the various ministry-networks, national efforts, regional and continental strategic consultations aimed at mobilizing and encouraging the African Church to take up her responsibility contributing her own quota in local and global missions. Prayer and intercession for the remaining unreached peoples have continued to be major planks for the accomplishment of the MANI vision. We have continued to collaborate with and use the Joshua Project list for daily prayer focus on UPGs (the list of which we had reviewed and updated through MANI’s Country Assessment Project (CAP) and encouragement for adoption and engagement by the Churches and ministries in our countries. The Global Day for Prayer (GDOP) initiative served in further mobilization and focus of prayer on the UPGs for the 2001-2009 period after which the Strategic Prayer Network was created which has been stirring up and sustaining that fervent prayer backing for reaching the unreached peoples and other missionary efforts of the Church in and from Africa presently.
CATALYZING, FACILITATIVE, AND NETWORKING ROLES OF THE MANI LEADERSHIP TEAM
The MANI Continental Leadership Team seeks to facilitate the MANI vision at a continental level and works through activities and responsibilities that are related to the following areas:
Helping African Church Leaders and God’s People to understand the ‘Kairos’ moment that has come upon the Church in Africa and the mandate from God for the Church to play significant role in the end-time harvest [Catalyzing; Vision-Casting; Creating Awareness, Asking the critical questions, raising up the pertinent issues, stimulating potent interests]
Building Bridges of Understanding between older missions and emerging missions in Africa, on one hand, and between the former harvest forces that are becoming harvest fields and the former harvest fields that are becoming strong harvest forces [Facilitating: steering ongoing efforts towards more strategic and Kingdom-benefiting outcomes]
Helping Missions and Ministries from outside and within Africa to explore new and strategic ways of doing ministry in Africa that will enhance our effectiveness, maximize our collective potentials, minimize duplication of efforts, unhealthy rivalry, and over concentration of resources and efforts in certain areas at the expense or neglect of other more needy areas [Networking: providing platforms, avenues, and opportunities for connection, consultation, becoming aware of and appreciating what others are doing in order to learn from another or complement each other’s efforts]
The primary avenues through which MANI carries its functions are Catalyzing the African National Initiatives and facilitating the regional, national, and ministry networks consultations on issues and then quinquennial continental consultation.
WHAT IS A ‘NATIONAL INITIATIVE’?
It is an evangelistic partnership within the Body of Christ in a given country or nation, drawing major denominations, local Churches and Christian ministries in such a country or nation together in a multi-pronged national strategy of renewal, church growth, discipleship, and missions (church planting). Such partnership harnesses the potentials of the Church in a given country and focuses such on bringing about transformation of lives and structures within the community.
The Objective of A National Initiative
It encourages the determination of the potentials, opportunities and challenges the Church has in her context of witness and promotes self-determined approaches and strategies that will make the Church to bear an effective and authentic witness to Christ in that country or nation as such cooperative, indigenous efforts model unity of the Body of Christ and demonstrate ownership of the task of evangelization of the country.
The Benefits of A National Initiative
A National Initiative also helps to determine the framework within which the Church in a given Country decides what kind of assistance or help it will receive from the wider Body of Christ to meet her genuine needs within her own context or what potentials she has to offer to other sections of the Body where her assistance might be needed. In other words, a National Initiative helps the Church to determine what she brings to or takes from the “Global Missions Basket”.
The Expected Outcome of A National Initiative
A National Initiative can focus on a specific issue, need, challenge or threat facing the Church or the nation within which the Church exists or a specific evangelization task of the Church. In other words, a cooperative response (i.e. a national initiative) can be organized around specific evangelization task or issues, needs, challenges as identified in a given context and the potentials of the church could be mobilized and targeted on such task, issues, needs, challenges and threats in such a way that meeting such needs in the concerted way establishes a strong witness of the grace and mercies of God in the affected community bringing into existence a body of transformed people worshiping God through our Lord, Jesus Christ and impacting their communities through their continued witness of the transforming power of the gospel.
The Scope of A National Initiative
The ultimate scope of a National Initiative is the whole country. As such, it is a “whole country strategy” of ‘The Whole Church taking the Whole Gospel to the Whole Man in the Whole Country’. However, it follows the same concentric cycle of the Acts 1:8 commission: Jerusalem; All Judea, Samaria, and Uttermost parts of the Earth. In other words, such cooperative evangelistic, missional, transformational discipleship, and ‘Kingdom-Impact’ strategy can be organized by the Church of Christ in a given City, Region, State, Province, and Nation where there is need for pioneer/saturation church-planting and in-depth transformational discipleship efforts, extending beyond the local, cultural, and national boundaries to the uttermost parts of the earth which define the local and global dimensions of the Great Commission Mandate for the Church in a given context.
Strategic Consultations as avenues through which MANI carries out its Facilitating and Catalyzing Functions
Strategic Consultation is one of the primary engagements of MANI. Renewed vision, strategic plan and focused zeal for the fulfillment of the Great Commission is usually the result when Church leaders gather together, at an opportune time, sharing the right information without sentiments. Every five years MANI holds her Continental Consultation while other regional, ministry network, national or interest based consultations hold as and when necessary. The objective of every consultation is to celebrate what God is doing in, with and through the African Church in furthering His redemption plan among the peoples of the continent and the world, review past objectives, listen to God for fresh insights, leading and direction, to focus our energy on such directives during the intervening period before the next consultation comes up.
HISTORY OF THE MANI STRATEGIC CONSULTATIONS
In July 1997, 1,200 African leaders from 46 nations came together in a consultation on African National Initiatives at the GCOWE ’97 in South Africa. This consultation accelerated the birthing and development of structured African National Initiatives. This catalytic event led to the proliferation of new national movements, such as Finish the Task Kenya.
In March 2001, 320 delegates from 36 African nations met in Jerusalem for the African Millennial Consultation to celebrate and share the blessings of God in the evangelization of Africa over the years, and to consult together on the unfinished task in Africa and the world. This consultation gave birth to MANI, a strong continental awakening of Africa’s Kairos Moment.
MANI CAIM 2003 – Ibadan, Nigeria
In 2003, MANI convened a consultation on AFRICAN INDIGENOUS MISSIONS at which the various issues, models, structures and strategies of African indigenous efforts were articulated, shared and documented in a compendium with similar title.
MANI 2006 – Nairobi, Kenya
Two years later in 2006, the world watched as 520 leaders from 49 African nations gathered at MANI 2006 in Nairobi to pray, share best practices and assess the unfinished task in Africa. They celebrated the dynamic growth of the African Church and faced up to critical challenges. Commitments were made to advance national initiatives and to cooperate regionally to advance the Great Commission.
Nearly every African nation was represented by a delegation of high level leaders representing the major sections of the Body of Christ. The consultation created the platform to celebrate the vibrant growth of the African Church and to voice profound hope in the Lord’s intentions for the continent. The following years witnessed a continental harvest on the critical issues raised at the consultation: necessities of transformational discipleship, transformational leadership, united prayer, and empowerment of women for ministry, initiatives to tackle the social and economic challenges the Church and people of Africa are facing through holistic community transformation ministry interventions, taking more seriously the challenge of Islam, etc. Out from Nairobi 2006 was the challenge to clarify the task and refocus attention on reaching the remaining unreached peoples of Africa, hence the launching of the Country Assessment Process (CAP).
MANI 2011 – Abuja, Nigeria
In September 2011, a total of 614 participants from 60 countries gathered in Abuja Nigeria for the consultation of the Movement for African National Initiatives. This Consultation gave birth to Strategic Networks: Denominational Leaders, Emerging Leaders, African Women in Ministry, Strategic Prayer Network, etc, and many untold testimonies of post consultation engagements at local, regional and network levels. Through the CAP carried out in the past five years, it was discovered that an estimated 970 least-reached people groups in Africa do not yet have a viable indigenous Christian fellowship in their midst. The majority of these are in a belt stretching from Senegal in the West to Somalia in the East of the continent. Here, where Christianity of the South engages Islam of the North, the missionary task of the church is usually the hardest, and the greatest sacrifices are required. The African church is uniquely positioned to spread the sweet fragrance of Christ (2 Cor. 2:15) in these areas and to ensure the expansion of the Body of Christ to North Africa, where it once was so strong, and from there to the Middle East, Europe and beyond. We have heard God’s command to the African church to “Go North” and we commit ourselves to obey. We appreciate the hard work already done to gather data about unreached people and the most effective response of the church. More work is needed in this task and we are willing to assist in this important task of scouting the land (Numbers 13) and exploring what needs to be done (Nehemiah 2). It was also decided by the Denominational Leaders Network to convene a Summit at which the African Church leaders will be encouraged to own and drive the last push of the African Church towards reaching the identified remaining least reached/unreached people groups in Africa.
MANI AHC SUMMIT 2016 – Accra, Ghana
The African Heads of Churches Summit, convened in Gomoa-Fetteh, Accra, Ghana, with the theme, “African Churches’ Response to the Critical Issues Facing Christian Witness in Africa and the World Today.” 1 Chronicles 12:32. There were about 105 from over 20 Church denominations in Africa. The Goal of the Summit was to facilitate a platform/forum where strategic awareness was generated and action provoking QUESTIONS were raised, discussed and agreed upon by a catalytic group of African Church leaders on critical issues that present threats and opportunities for the African Church in fulfilling the Priestly, Prophetic and Apostolic (missionary) mandate of the Body of Christ in the continent and from the continent of Africa to the rest of the world in the 21st Century and beyond, if Christ tarries.
MANI 2016 – Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
MANI 2016 Continental Consultation was the 3rd of the post-Africa Millennial Consultation (AMC 2001) aimed at ensuring that every effort in carrying out what we understand as the mission mandate of the African Church in the present context and realities of events in our continent and in the world, was being done according to the dictate and leading of the Holy Spirit, God’s Director of Missions, hence the theme chosen for this period. Five hundred and sixty (560) delegates from more than fifty (50) countries gathered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 7 to 11 March 2016 for the third consultation of the Movement for African National Initiatives (MANI). The consultation took place in the African Union Centre where heads of African states and their representatives meet to deal with issues affecting the African continent. Significantly, Ethiopia also represents Africa’s early and unbroken connection with the Gospel of Jesus Christ (e.g. Acts 8:27-39). As stated in the consultation theme, “Hearing and obeying God in times like these”, we placed ourselves alongside the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3 to hear what the Spirit of God is saying to his church in Africa regarding our mission in this world. The Addis Ababa Consultation was significant in several ways. Firstly, it was hosted by the oldest Church in the continent. Secondly, it was held on the premises of the African Union, the political seat of the Africa. Thirdly, we had participants from all the four continental geographical regions (North, South, East and West Africa), the Indian Ocean Islands and Africans in the Diaspora. Fourthly, there were fraternal delegates from Chinese, Asian, North & South American, and European Church who brought greetings and shared of the great doings of the Lord in their parts of the world and extended hand of fellowship and partnership to the African Church in these days of God’s power among the nations!
“We were reminded of the great need for the Gospel of Jesus Christ in North Africa, the Middle East and Europe, once the heart of Christendom. At the 2011 MANI consultation, we clearly heard God’s call to “Go North”. We rejoice over advances already made and hear again God’s mandate and invitation to increase our efforts and focus. As Ethiopia reminds us of Africa’s earliest response to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the faithful preservation of our faith throughout the centuries, we want to erect a spiritual memorial to declare that the Church in Africa will not rest until the whole world is filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14). From Addis to everywhere … until Jesus comes”.
REVIEW OF (AND REFOCUSING) THE MANI VISION BEYOND NOW
MANI – AD 2006 – 2021
In review of how we have fared in carrying out the Vision and Purpose for which MANI was birthed in March 2001, we are grateful to the Lord that He has enabled us to achieve the following:
- Awareness of MANI’s unique nature and role as a catalyst and servant to the Body of Christ.
- Ongoing development and defence of MANI as an authentic African movement built around visionary leaders totally committed to MANI’s ultimate vision and MANI’s core objectives.
- Maintenance / keeping of the vision and primary objectives.
- Maintenance of the original mode of operation – self funding.
- Sustained focus on MANI as primarily a catalytic networking movement – agent of change but not the change; not an organization.
- MANI’s commitment to servant-hood and operation through existing structures at various levels.
- Kept MANI on track as an authentic grassroots African movement committed to catalyzing the Body of Christ in Africa to work together and linking strategic networks. To disciple the nations of Africa and send Africans on Mission around the world.
- Maintained MANI ethos (characteristic spirit/attitude); catalytic role to the Body of Christ; grassroots African movement; demonstrated and modeled the maturity of the African church; kept focus on MANI’s core objectives.
- Consolidated links with AEA, WEA Missions Commission, Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, Great Commission Round-table, Joshua Project, and Operation World.
- Readiness to partner with Global Networks – Ethne to Ethne, IPA etc.
- Assertion of Africa’s right to be respected as an equal partner in the global mission community.
- ‘Two planks’/Key roles 2006 – 2011 Facilitating CAP and attempts at catalyzing functional National Initiatives
MANI – AD 2021 – 2041
As MANI enters yet another period in the quest to fulfill the Great Commission in the nations of Africa and the world, it is important that MANI’s role is clearly understood.
MANI’s role must remain primarily that of imparting vision, of being a dynamic catalyst and a compelling prophetic voice to the Body of Christ in the nations of Africa and beyond.
MANI’s vision and commitment for evangelized nations and world must be sharpened to focus on the most unreached. The proliferation of ministry networks must not be allowed to become an end in themselves.
MANI as a Continental Movement must understand and function as a catalyst – a change agent that effects radical change in the way the Body of Christ goes about its Missions mandate. A movement that births change without going becoming part of it.
In the next 20 years the aim must be to strengthen MANI’s role as a source of vision, as a catalyst, as a prophetic voice to the whole Body of Christ.
Reuben E. Ezemadu is the founding (and currently International) Director of the Christian Missionary Foundation Inc. He served as the pioneer General Secretary and later as the Chairman of NEMA (Nigeria Evangelical Missionary Association), the General Coordinator of the Third World Missions Association (TWMA) and currently the Continental Coordinator of the MOVEMENT FOR AFRICAN NATIONAL INITIATIVES (MANI). He is a co-founder of Development Associates International (DAI) of which he served as the Pioneer Director of its Nigeria Ministry Center and currently the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of DAI in Nigeria
His contributions to the development of the missionary movement in Nigeria and beyond has earned him the following awards: “1998 AKANU IBIAM AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING PROMOTION OF THE VISION AND WORK OF CROSS-CULTURAL MISSIONS” by Wesley International Theological Seminary, the “1998 WOSOM MERIT AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENTS IN MISSIONS WORK” by World Outreach School of Missions, and an honorary DOCTOR OF DIVINITY by the World Link University. He was also featured in the biographical documentary by the Alliance Research Network International titled “Indigenous Missions In Nigeria: Pioneers Behind the Scene”