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.
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.
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
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.