Oct 21

This is from Joel News (joelnews.org). I thought I would repost it since FOSM does mission work in Africa.

Here it goes:

Africa sends out missionaries by the thousands

An Ethiopian tells that when he landed on Indian soil as a missionary in 1998 it surprised him as much as anyone else. “Could this be possible?” he asked himself. “We always thought only white people could be missionaries.” More than a step of faith, this venture created a worldview change for him. After all, he had gone out from Africa, the continent that for generations has been known as the mission field, the place where missionaries go.

But God had prepared the way. Soon after arriving, one of his team members shared the gospel with a woman. She stopped him. “I had a dream last week,” she said. “Fire was consuming the village and people were running. Two people were praying with arms outstretched. Then something like a cross came between the fire and the village.” She concluded, “You were the people.” In the following three months 1,357 people gave their lives to Christ. After their initial success, the home church in Ethiopia sent 20 more missionaries to India and Pakistan.

“In Nigeria, missions have been gaining momentum since the mid-70s. Now 5,200 missionaries are serving around the world.”

In the same way, thousands of Africans from across the continent are defying old stereotypes and embarking on the cross-cultural missionary adventure. In some areas, the church has been doing it for awhile; in other places it’s just getting started. In Nigeria, missions have been gaining momentum since the mid-70s. NEMA, the Nigerian Evangelical Mission Agency, now has 5,200 missionaries serving in Africa and around the world. A church in one of South Africa’s townships has been sending out short-term missionaries for seven years, according to a report at a recent MANI SA conference. Just two years ago they sent their first long-termers. Church members are enthusiastic about their missionaries who are working in three other countries, and are committed to support them.

Africans are still mindful of what foreign missionaries have done in their continent. “We appreciate you, and what the Lord has done through you for us,” said Nigerian Dr. Rev. Nicholas Asamayan, who mobilizes black churches for missions. “And to those who died, thank you for your sacrifice and your love. But in God’s prophetic timetable, the time has come for us,” he said. He explained that it is time for an Afro-centric approach to missions, for defining mission in the African context, for writing materials and coming up with creative ideas.

“They are moving into the earth’s difficult unreached communities. Professionals back home, such as engineers and doctors, raise money to support them.”

God’s new company of African missionaries is moving into some of earth’s difficult unreached communities. What motivates them to go into lowly villages with bad water, disease and a fearful relationship with local gods? Or to venture out into Europe, Asia and South America? Each country has its own story.

In Nigeria, it began with students. As they went out to the villages for their year of national service, they saw parts of their nation they hadn’t seen before, and were moved to action. They began planting churches, but they also caught a vision for missions, leading eventually to the birth of three mission agencies, Calvary Ministries, Christian Mission Foundation, and EMS, the missions branch of the Evangelical Church of West Africa. Then, in the early 80s, NEMA was born – the Nigerian Evangelical Mission Agency, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in October, 2007. They have an exciting support group – the Mission Supporters League (MSL), an innovation rarely found even in more prosperous countries. It includes 100 chapters of professionals, such as engineers and doctors, who raise money for supporting and sponsoring missionaries.

“In Zimbabwe 10,000 churches were planted in the ’90s. As persecution came, they went abroad preaching the gospel.”

Then there is Zimbabwe. “Our church planting model,” says Dr. Shana, “is described in Acts 8 and 9: ‘When they were persecuted, they went abroad preaching the gospel.'” Shana’s congregation, the mushrooming Word of Life Church in Bulawayo, has planted 3,500 churches all over the world, instilled with the missional vision to affect the community around them in every sphere of life.

But Zimbabwe’s missionary movement, according to Dr. Shana, came out of troubled times. It started with a movement in the ’90’s where 10,000 churches were planted. But soon after, the country dove into economic and political turmoil. Unexpectedly, those 10,000 churches became the seedling bed for a new missions thrust. As Zimbabweans left the country to settle in new places, they took their faith with them. “We’ve been following our diasporic sheep,” explains Dr. Shana. “In their new homes, they miss the church they’ve had in Zimbabwe, so they begin to meet in groups, and talk to their communities. A little group starts, which we support and we watch over for a period of time. And we start a church.”

“In Ethiopia over 3,000 missionaries have moved from one culture to the other to share Jesus Christ.”

“The gospel has been in Ethiopia for 1,670 years,” said Pastor Langana at MANI SA ’08, “first brought here by the eunuch in Acts 8. “But I’m sorry to say that, even though we were a Christian nation, we never reached the rest of Africa.” Things changed in 1990. “God brought a missionary,” said Langana, “and used him as a key person. He told us, ‘It is time for Ethiopia to see the people who are unreached.” We had never been thinking of going outside Ethiopia. Now, over 3,000 missionaries in the North African country of Ethiopia have moved from one culture to another in order to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The missions-minded country of Ghana, which has sent people to such far-reaching places as China, Ukraine, Brazil and India, was inspired by the Nigerian missions movement, and continues to be motivated by the Acts 1:8 strategy. It’s simple. Every church has four realms to influence: ‘Jerusalem’, your own home town, ‘Judea’, the next closest region, ‘Samaria’, even farther out, and then ‘the ends of the earth’. The Church of Pentecost is a good example, which opened Pakistan as its 70th mission field this year. Ross Campbell, MANI’s Information Coordinator, observes that “from the day of conversion, believers are commissioned, equipped and engaged in Kingdom advance.” And this is only one of Ghana’s major denominations which all have international mission boards. Others include the Presbyterians and Methodists. GEMA, the Ghana Evangelical Missions Association is a connecting point for them all.

In these and other countries, Africans are a key part of today’s missionary task force, digging into the hard work left to finish the job of fulfilling the Great Commission.

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