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Missions in Africa

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					                           Reflections on
 

                    Missions in Africa
    Thematic extracts from the essay compilation “Missions in the
            21st Century: Challenges and Opportunities”
 


                          Africa to AfricA
                           Murray Louw
                                SAAWE


Sunday 1 June 2008
Lovemore* heard the call from the front. He felt God’s nudging in
his heart. Weighing the cost of living in a totally foreign and difficult
environment among people whose language he would have to
learn, he realized that those least evangelized tribes just must hear
the gospel. And hear it soon. As he walked forward, he felt the
burden lift and was filled with joy. He was yearning to be one of the
ones to take the life-saving message of the Kingdom of our Lord
Jesus to some specific community who had never seen the light of
the Saviour in their dark environment.


Revival!
Something special is happening in many Zambian churches and
homes. Prayer meetings are regularly attended by the majority of
members. Families are sacrificing their savings to support their
missionaries. Young couples are taking up missionary training and
leaving their own town and country to plant churches. A few go to
Europe and Asia. But mostly to Africa - to Chad, Angola, Sudan and
Tanzania. They plant churches among Non-Christian tribes. Coen
Scholtz, leader of Pro Christo Global Missions, PGM, was puzzled
why the Zambian missionary families in those countries adopt local
Aids orphans as their own. Who told them? Maybe Coen didn’t
TELL them, but he certainly set the example. Suria and he have
raised and are raising seventeen children, mostly adopted Zambian
orphans, right in their own home in Kabwe.


Mobilize to Evangelize!
On that first Sunday in June, three churches in Kabwe were visited
by teams from Pro Christo, PGM. In each church, a PGM team had
facilitated a MISSION POSSIBLE ONE workshop on Friday and
Saturday. The turnout at the workshops had been good. On Sunday
in the worship services,        a short testimony by the team
accompanied a sermon by a preacher. Most people in church
responded by taking personal responsibility to help plant God’s
Kingdom both near and far. They committed to either support
missions or be missionaries. The previous week these visiting
teams, 89% Black Zambians, had worked through MISSION
POSSIBLE workshops presented in Kabwe by SAAWE, the South
African Action for World Evangelization.


Glory to God!
What happened in Zambia?
David Livingstone brought the gospel. He was buried in Zambia.
Zambian churches have been making their members disciples of
Jesus. Some of them understand that God gave us a church so that
everybody in the world may hear. The purpose of the church is to
spread the gospel to all.
Countless numbers of Christians have persevered, pouring sweat
and tears into Zambian ministry. It is bearing fruit.
There is a regular annual world missions conference in Kabwe each
August. It is attended by hundreds of people from all over the world.
If you go there, you will meet the Black pioneer missionaries. They
are carrying the light of the Gospel to far away tribes where there
are hardly any Christians. You will hear the reports of the
remarkable fruit that God is giving on their ministry under appalling
conditions.
They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.
* Not his real name.




 The quest for an authentic mission sending model by
                  the church in Africa
                   Dr. Nicholas D. Osameyan
           Africa Area Director, World Thrust International


There is no question as to the growing interest of the African church
taking its place in global missions from Africa by Africans to the
world.


There is however the quest for an authentic missions sending
model that is culturally and contextually relevant to the situation in
Africa. The Euro-centric approach to mission Training, Sending and
Supporting structures and models inherited from the western
missions is both expensive and outdated under the present day in
Africa's prevailing cultural and economic milieu.


Coupled with the challenges highlighted above are some change-
drivers with their mounting pressures on the church in Africa.
These include Poverty, HIV/AIDs pandemic, Urbanization,
Technology and the increase in the number of other religions
contending for the soul of Africa. Although it is a welcome
development that the church in Africa in the last decades has
witnessed rapid growth and extension through the different church
planting efforts, in some cases they are nothing but church
proliferation without strength and visionary leaders.


We can however celebrate the tremendous missions contribution of
some African emerging missions and mega churches. In spite of the
multifaceted challenges confronting the church in Africa in her
involvement in the noble kingdom assignment of world
evangelization, opportunities abound for greater participation in the
21st century.


The global human movement occasioned by economic migration,
war, political problems and global trade has greatly changed the
face of the harvest field in Africa. Mission "markets" have suddenly
come to the church's backyards. The poor churches need not cross
any geographic boundaries before reaching out cross-culturally.
The freedom from historic baggage of colonialism and imperialism
is an added value to African missionaries willing to serve in least
evangelized areas of the world. Communication and missionary
care have also received a big boost by the arrival of the internet.


Other encouraging developments are the springing up of national
missions bodies and networks like World Evangelization Network of
South Africa (WENSA), Ghana Evangelical Mission Association
(GEMA) and Nigeria Evangelical Mission association (NEMA) and
the catalytic efforts of the Movement for Africa National Initiative
(MANI).
Mission awareness is increasing in almost all the Countries of
Africa. More than ever before in the history of the church in Africa,
calls are being made for the development of an Afro-centric
approach to mission Training, Sending and Supporting in the
continent. The church in the global North is also becoming more
open to partnership without paternalism with the church in the
global South (Africa, Asia and Latin America).


I wish to conclude by saying the 21st century is Africa's time in
world evangelization, its various challenges not withstanding.


The brevity of this write-up only provokes food for thought on the
topic under discussion, so thank you for understanding my
limitations.



                     The African Worldview
                      Frits van der Merwe
                       Missionary, Mozambique

The biggest challenge for mission in the African context is not to
communicate the Gospel – that has been done time and again.
Effective use is being made of all possible means of
communication; conversions are common, new churches spring up
everywhere. On closer inspection, however, the evangelism, the
pastor-training, and the discipleship still result in tribal churches, in
pastors who use traditional medicine to “strengthen” their
preaching, in members who participate in rituals to appease the so-
called ancestral spirits or to invoke their help. The Gospel is often
like paint applied to a mud wall, ready to peel off at the slightest
provocation, having had no penetration past the very surface of
people’s lives.
The challenge of mission in Africa, then, is not reaching or
preaching or language or understanding culture, important as these
things might be. The challenge, rather, is to change the substrata,
the underlying ideas, and the subconscious way of thinking - the
framework people use to evaluate and give meaning to what they
experience. I refer, of course, to their worldview. To change
people outwardly while their entire way of thinking is still dominated
by a traditional understanding of reality cannot bear long-term fruit.
The challenge is rather to replace the traditional African worldview
with a Biblical worldview. The worldview is the root that produces
the rites, beliefs and taboos that comprise the culture. So when a
missionary works to bring new beliefs, new rites and new taboos,
he is often only working with the results of the worldview, instead of
with the worldview itself. The new beliefs are added to the old, and
are only functional on the surface level. In times of crises, the
problems people encounter are still understood in terms of the
worldview, and dealt with in those terms.

The immediate challenge when working with African people is to
replace their understanding of the spirit world with a Biblical
understanding of the same. As long as they accept that the spirits
communicating with them in their dreams are really the spirits of the
deceased, of their ancestors, then syncretism will be the only result
of our mission work. Unmasking these spirits, demonstrating the
complete victory of Christ over them, and teaching people to stand
and live in this victory is thus the first step in accepting our
challenge: to inculcate a Biblical worldview. It is possibly also the
easiest step, since the subject has been studied and most
missionaries bring with them at least some experience of dealing
with the spirit world.

The rest of the challenge is to identify specific aspects of the African
worldview and addressing these aspects, bringing the light of God’s
Word to bear on them until conceptions are changed. This will not
happen unless the specific elements of the African worldview are
brought into the open and challenged – repeatedly. Issues include:
Explaining, predicting and controlling happenings (these are mayor
elements in African religion); what is this life for? What is the value
of women and children before God? How do we think about sex and
power?

The biggest challenge lies in the fact that worldview (everybody’s
worldview, not just the African one) function on a subconscious
level and is rarely, if ever, brought into words. And yet we have to
address this if our work is ever to bear long-term fruit. See “A Letter
to Africa About Africa” by Kasongo Munza (email
enright@coppernet.zm) for some ideas.



           Emerging Mission Movement Strategy
                          Peter Tarantal
                 National Director, OM South Africa


Over the last decade we have been seeing a wave of mission from
parts of the world which have traditionally been recipients of those
bringing the gospel message, namely Africa, Asia, Latin America,
the Middle East and even Eastern Europe. God is doing new and
greater things in his church, especially in the Global South,
preparing her to take greater responsibility for reaching the nations
with the gospel.
There is much to be gained from the church in the Global South– no
matter how rich or poor – understanding its own role in sending, as
a recent story from Zambia movingly illustrates:

A pastor went to speak at a church in one of the rural areas of
Zambia. He was accompanying a member of the church who was
interested in joining a church planting team in an unreached area
along Lake Tanganyika. When they took up the offering of the
normal tithes it amounted to just twelve rand (US$ 2). The pastor
was reluctant to ask them to support the young man but he felt
prompted by the Holy Spirit to do so anyway.

After praying, the elders came back to say they would take up the
challenge to find the 5,000 rand (US$ 700) for his transport and
initial support and committed to finding the money in a month. By
the time a month had passed they had come up with the full sum.

On enquiring how they had done it, the pastor was told everyone in
the church with more than two pairs of trousers or shirts had
brought their extras to the church to be sold. However, after selling
their clothes they still had quite a shortfall.
They then agreed to fast one meal a day for the next few weeks
and brought the money they would have spent on their staple maize
meal to the church. God honoured their faith and commitment as
well as their sacrificial giving and they miraculously reached their
target.

If the church moves in this direction it will see a rich harvest of new
workers in the near future.

        Other thematic extracts available from Bless the Nations
  • Prayer and Missions
  • South African townships
  • Arab World
  • Media
  • Bless the Nations as a movement
  • Discipleship
                  Full compilation (61 essays) available.
            For more info: www.blessthenations.co.za / 0835544183

				
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