This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Enson Mbilikile Lwesya, DMin. Associate Professor of Intercultural Leadership Studies
The world continues to go through monumental changes. Notable changes include the mapping of the human genome, the development of the Information Communication and Technologies (ICT), and the collapse of the Soviet Union, which forever discredited communism as an ideology. 1 Globalization and its attendant factors, such as modernization, urbanization, and communication, have the ability to bring seismic changes to everyone’s doorstep. Truly, the world has shrunk; it is a global village. Global Village implies the contraction of entities of separation between peoples such as distance, language, time, culture, etc. The world has forever changed, collapsing many perceived disparities such as the developed, developing and underdeveloped; northern hemisphere—implying advanced technologically—and southern hemisphere. Globalization with its attending siblings of information, communication and technology (ICT), liberalized market economies, satellite television, etc, continue to lead the way in the inward contraction of earlier known discrepancies. Africa, as part of the global communities constantly goes through changes enhanced and cultured by globalization. Global realities are so colossal and create distinct and noticeable changes. These earthshaking transformations create economical, social, and people trends that, in turn, persuade practitioners, institutions, governments, etc, to fine tune their service delivery. Everything impacts everything. This article discusses missional implications emanating from global realities impacting Africa today.
GLOBALIZATION AND THE PEOPLE MOVEMENTS
Globalization’s positive and viable impact on the world has been its ability to transfer knowledge, culture, and principles from one area of the world to another. Everything becomes open to all through its impervious avenues of relatively quicker transports modes and through ICT avenues such as the internet, satellite television, etc. Economies are so intricately connected such that any blow-up or boom in one part of the world is transferred to others. The world suffered economically the first quarter of 2008 as economical hardship emanating from the American recession affected many markets across the world. World-wide corporations spread out like lianas in Africa’s tropical forests. In reality, the world has become more a global village than when the term was coined 2. The Africa village better illustrates the idea of the global village, for here people tend to know what everyone does in the community where the little huts are so close together. Similarly, globalization opens communities to scrutiny by other societies. Although traveling costs are still costly globally, it has become increasingly easier, quicker and more comfortable to travel from place to place. Embedded at the center of globalization is the desire to improve life; consequently, interactions evolving out of the process imply gigantic consequences for all humanity. A search and competition in acquisition of wealth is the reality of globalization. Global people movements are captivated and influenced for search for food, wealth, and a good life. People often travel across continents pursuing dreams to create great wealth. Africa’s modern diaspora manifests the reality of the expansive people movement from Africa.
AFRICA’S MODERN DIASPORA Although this modern Diaspora started in the 1960’s it accelerated in the 1990s. The continent calls it the “brain drain” of Africa. It is the Diaspora of Africans, as never known and experienced in modern times. Essentially, people from the South, especially the Africans immigrate to the Northern Hemisphere by droves.
The 2000-year statistics portrayed that there are 21 million foreigners in the whole of Europe?
Out of these: a. 12.9 millions are Europeans living in other countries b. 3.4 millions Africans (15%) c. 1.7 Americans d. 1.5 Latin Americans e. 0.1 million Oceanic Peoples Did you know that Africans settle in countries with historical links, such as previous colonial powers and those with a similar language base? Did you know that there are over 300,000 South Africans living in UK, and there were over 900,000 South Africans who have British Citizenship? Did you know that 7000 South African families per month immigrated to Europe in the year 2002? Did you also know that the figure for South Africa flyaway professionals is four times underestimated? Did you know that there are more hundreds of thousands of Africans that have emigrated in the last three years? (Taken from Phillepe Warner)
Various reasons camouflage the essence of travelling to the Northern Hemisphere, but the root cause is mainly economical emancipation. Africans are searching greener pastures in education, in employment and in everything. This is well understood. Typically, Africa’s economical conditions are a disaster. Of course, many of the African workers in the Diaspora commit career suicides, for they cannot find jobs fitting their qualifications. It is far better to work as a janitor in London than to be a surgeon in some African countries. Reality can be that cruel. Life in Africa is survival of the fittest. It has been said that Malawi, my country, has more trained health doctors outside the country than there are inside the country. Once trained by the struggling governments of Africa, they are now blessing the Northern Hemisphere—a diabolical reality. How can you keep well-trained professionals while treating them as if they are scavenging menial laborers? The result—we have flyaway professionals. As of 1999, it was reported that more than 30,000 Africans with PhDs were living outside the continent (Cogburn and Adeya, 1999: 12).
HIV/AIDS has brought a greater strain on Africa’s labor resources. Most sub-Saharan nations have the world’s higher percentages of infected people in relation to national populations. It is a colossal disaster. But the disheartening fact is that, despite the health situations, our nurses have become the recent flyaway professionals of the continent. Currently, the Northern Hemisphere receives Africa’s nurses far better than any other kind of professionals. Evidentially, the Diaspora is not a religious activity, but economical. It has no patriotism embedded in its DNA. But this has never caught God off guard. For we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). God is interested in the affairs and lives of the many hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of African Christians who have been part of the dispersion.
The Diaspora as the tool of God
The Africa Diaspora creates great implications for missio Dei in the 21 st Century. The Church should deliberately train Christians to go to the North as missionaries. Admittedly, almost all those travelling to the Northern Hemisphere are lay persons who now should be influenced to go as ministers of God. Training all members of the church to become missionaries of God begins with appreciating the philosophy of the church as a missionary community. The basic ingredient to such a philosophy is allowing the believer to know they have God-given gifts and that God rejoices in the careers they
pursue. Therefore, every career, job, business, hobby, and life becomes an arena where God’s grace interfaces with the needs of the community, with the believer as the point of contact. God’s providence is at work in the Diaspora. The majority of Africans only realize, after the fact that God controls their migrations. However, being aware that they drifted under the hand of God’s sovereignty is not enough. The African Christian must be helped to understand that they are found in the diaspora for a purpose. They are like Esther in the ancient Diaspora of Israel—the unlikely person who saved people from calamity; they are like Daniel who served the purposes of God with integrity in a generation that enjoyed serving itself. God’s hand is at work for the salvation of the Northern Hemisphere. This is not a claim that Africans will save Western Christianity. But God will. Part of the link may well be the economical immigrants that are becoming a sore sight in Europe. The temperature of Christianity in North America, Europe and Eastern Europe is frighteningly cold. The causes for this reality are varied. One major cause however, is the pessimism that rocks the Northern Hemisphere with a postmodern mindset. Whatever the merits of the postmodern mindset are, one of the major earth-shacking realities is that it hates to give allegiance to God. It is, surprisingly, a selfish mindset. No wonder the churches are empty, and buildings are being sold to entities with unholy purposes. The local church of Africa should be proactive in training the lay Christians that leave Africa with an orientation of being missionaries wherever they go. This may sound like futile imaginations, but it is do-able. Bible colleges are pivotal in this regard. There must be a curriculum set to train pastors as trainers of trainers. It should emphasize training of the lay person as a minister of God. Trained pastors are pragmatic and proactive supervisors of bi-vocational missionaries. There is a thin line to recognize here, though. The suggested courses, although orienting a pastor on the challenges and activities of a bi-vocational missionary, should not aim to re-train the pastor in bi-vocationalism. Its aim should be to persuade him to become a mentor and sponsor of bi-vocational workers in the Northern Hemisphere. The churches across Africa (especially mega churches) should be influenced to deliberately set up activities and provide information to the people that are on their way to the nations of the North. Part of the training in the local churches must be to sensitize, mobilize and commission these bi-vocational missionaries, or tentmakers, who are always getting to the nations of the North.
Africa’s Migrations and the Tentmaker
The yielded member of the community of the redeemed is a carrier of God’s redeeming grace to broken humanity. In this way, everyone in the Church becomes the candlelight shining in the dark corners of the earth. It is not only a few specialized heroes, but everyone. This understanding further allows the people of God to know that “everywhere” becomes a ministry area, a pulpit for all to preach. This way the church avoids a “ghetto mentality,” trapped in one corner of society. The new paradigm projects the church integrating in the world just like salt dissolves in food (Matt. 5:13) and yeast permeates through the whole loaf (13:33). Believers can, thus, use what they know best as their bridge for ministry. Evangelism (missions) persuades the believer to be conscious that they are to practice Christianity all the time. Building bridges presupposes that one has built bridges with God before speaking to others about God. 3 The African Church should intentionally deploy all the travelers going into the Northern Hemisphere—for whatever reason— as missionaries. These tentmaking missionaries are effective when they leave home with a mindset of doing ministry for God. Different missiologists have, in the past referred to tentmakers with various titles such as nonprofessional missionaries, lay apostolate, self-supporting witness, or self-supporting missionaries.4 Tentmaking should never be thought of primarily as a financial strategy. 5 This philosophy allows
people of God to use the gifts of God for the works of God. Tentmaking, properly understood, is the marketplace ministry, which Christians can use in cross-cultural contexts. The basic difference is that Christians who are fully supported missionaries leave their nets and follow Christ; whereas, those who are self-supporting take their nets with them to follow Him.6 The variety of gifts and abilities of God’s people finds proper expression in the vocations of His people. This is a “theology of work” perspective, which justifies calling one’s job a “vocational ministry.”7 To a tentmaker, all of life is ministry: in both vocation and avocation alike, the tentmaker serves God. Vocational ministry is serving God through one’s job, just as a pastor’s vocational ministry time is spent preaching, teaching, and shepherding God’s people.8 Tentmaking is a workable strategy to proclaim the gospel in other lands. Interestingly, Muslims also spread their religion, principally, through soldiers, traders, and government administrators. The Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses also use the tentmaking approach. To a greater degree, the Watch Tower sect is more biblical when they regard all members as Jehovah’s witnesses. 9 The last five years, however, reveal that the Diaspora is being redefined by new rules due to the strains it creates on the nations of the North. The politics of the North are intricately linked with issues of sorting out the problem of immigrants of the South. Spain, France, Netherlands, Britain, America, etc, continue to grapple with the impact of the people from the South. The long-term consequences of today’s immigration are sobering for the Northerners. Imagine the constellation of the people diversity in the next fifty years. Governments of the North constantly draft new laws of immigration. THE GLOBAL SOUTH CHURCH A religious change, pregnant with sociological impact beyond what the world has ever experienced, is looming on the horizon. Despite the claims of the rapid growth of Islam, Christianity is growing faster. Surprisingly, it is growing faster in the South and has Africa as its epicenter.10In a few years time, a typical Christian will no longer be a Caucasian from the North, but an African or Asian in the buzzing cities of the South. Let us turn the tables. How would Christianity from the South affect that of the North? Knowing that Christianity is getting stronger in the South; while simultaneously a great people movement is happening from the South to the North, what are the implications for Christian missions? Will the Christianity of the South be pure and strong enough to influence and impact the secularized North? For two thousand years, the Church grew and established itself in Europe, North Africa, East Europe and later in North America. The modern missionary movement, beginning in the 18th Century, did not only focus on Asia through such enterprises by the likes of William Carey and Hudson Taylor, but also on Sub-Sahara Africa, Latin America and South Asia. The effort of the Holy Spirit through the Church has resulted in an exponential growth of the Church in the South. However, there is a distinct opposite reality in the Church of the North, especially in Europe. Evidently, the Church in Europe stagnated in the last fifty years. Unfortunately, great gothic church-related buildings have been passing from the Church hands to others, sometimes to those deemed its enemies. More than 1,600 churches—about 10 percent of the country’s total—have been formally declared redundant by the Church of England. And the English have recognized the new reality: if church buildings are to survive, new uses must be found. While a handful serve as mosques or Sikh temples, many more have found roles as cafés, concert halls, warehouses or chic apartments.11 The Global South Church has distinct peculiarities. First, it is diverse in its people configurations. It includes Africans of all kinds, Latinos, and diverse people groups from South Asia. Second, the Church is a mosaic of a myriad of denominations, groups, networks, collaboratives, etc. It is diverse in nature. One thing, however, is clear. The Church in the South is growing faster among the Pentecostals,
Charismatics and many other groups that claim they accomplish God’s work only with the power of the Holy Spirit. Third, the diversity goes beyond ethnicity and nationality. It is also theological. The new forms of churches, though largely conservatives, are differently located on the Liberal—Conservative continuum. There is a significant increase of one evangelical section with excesses on teachings of prosperity. God established the Church as a means to extend His Kingdom to all nations, tribes, languages, and peoples (Rev. 5:9). Thus, every church community—local assembly—is commanded to replicate itself, not only within its local but also beyond, to the regions where people of other nationalities and tribes exist. The Church is not a dead-end community but an organism of life, growth, and multiplication. The witness motif strongly portrayed in the New Testament should characterize the Global Church of the South. Evidently, the Church is fast growing in specific environments. Sub-Sahara Christianity is growing rapidly. Church planting is a rallying call for most of the African churches. Within this tapestry of the Sub-Saharan Church, we find hundreds of Pentecostal and Charismatic mega-congregations of East and West Africa. The expansion of Christianity and its growth in the South come with dire responsibilities. As the work of God progresses, it is essential that the gospel should not die in one’s hands; it must go to the next village, town, people group, nation, language, etc. The African Church should replicate intentional and focused missions in environments that are neither easy nor familiar to them, such as in the North and around the Rim of Africa12 where we find unreached people group of over a hundred million, which is largely Islamic. Some missiological commentators feel the African Church is too weak to do missions. Actually, they cite its diversity and theological immaturity as its greatest challenges. This is far from the truth. God trusts Africans just as He does any type of people. Every Church has the responsibility to accomplish mission Dei; it cannot be exempted on the basis of immaturity, poverty, diversity, etc. The young do grow, however. But the Church becomes whole as it goes and works for God. The lepers who asked Jesus for healing became whole as they went (Luke 9); the African church becomes whole and mature as it goes out. However, maturity is an issue based on outsider perception. It does not matter the church’s level of maturity on a person’s “maturity scale.” It still acts as the branch office of the Kingdom of God. The Church is, by nature, an empowered and missionary community; therefore it only acts godly as it reflects its missionary nature by doing mission Dei. Theological purity, if there is any such thing, is only achieved by reflective practitioners and practical theologians who work in the trenches of life. It is by going to the nations that the Church becomes truly what God envisaged. To whom much is given, much is required (Scripture). The African Church has been a recipient of the Northern Hemisphere’s generosity for over a hundred years. Based on the principle of reciprocity, this Church is obliged to give too. However, the spiritual blessing embedded in the African Church demands it takes up the responsibility to pass on to other nations. Intense primal Christianity permeates the African Church, expressed through a devotional life and prayer. It is highly conservative in essence. Largely, the African Church, especially the Pentecostals and Charismatics believes in the inspiration of the scripture. It believes that the Bible is the word of God and should be taken literally. 13That is why, by and large, the Global South Church fails to understand and accommodate the thought and possibility of allowing gay people to hold credentials within its ministerial rank and file. In this light, it crosses swords with the more liberal and secularized form from the Northern Hemisphere. Although the African Church may grow more sympathetic to the practicing gay community, it gets agitated when others claim the scriptures should be interpreted with the contemporary concerns. The African Church is blessed with orality manifested through hearty preaching, expressive worship and singing. Because the Church is so blessed, it must refresh others. Its greatest way to do this is by extending itself to people from other tribes, nations and languages. The African Church does mission Dei despite its weakness; in this it finds its strength—for when we are weak, we are strong. This
demonstrates that practicing mission Dei demands more than our human resources; it is done through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. The numerical growth in the African Church implies a reservoir of human resource. The African Church should mobilize, prepare, train and send hundreds of thousands of missionaries to access restricted areas. Actually, Africans may have better chances to get visas into nations more than missionaries from Europe or America. TRENDS ON URBANIZATION
The Pentecostals & Charismatics in the South
The Pentecostals and Charismatics are growing faster and stronger and demonstrating greater visibility. Their constituency is bigger and diverse. It includes classical Pentecostals, Charismatics, Africa Independent churches, Africa Initiated Churches, etc. One distinct feature about all these is their unequivocal belief that the Holy Spirit comes upon them just as he arrived on the apostles (Acts 1: 8; 2:4, 14-17) to empower them to do the work of God. This community has groupings that represent the extreme conservative right and the liberal conservative (because they do not emphasize the dietary and ceremonial laws of the Old Testament) on the left. Their commonality is the “arrival of the Holy Spirit” to help them do the work of God. These people of the Spirit also believe that miracles still occur as in ancient times.14
This part of the African Church is poised to shape the future of missions. Basically, Pentecostal theology insists that every believer should to experience a second experience after the conversion experience. This experience, known as the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, empowers the believer to witness for God. Furthermore, Pentecostals claim that signs and wonders, results of empowered ministry, are essential in any pioneer mission work. The “People of the Spirit” from Africa still believe that the Holy Spirit, as the great Paraclete, goes with the Global South Church in mission. Additionally, they believe that the Holy Spirit is the source of creativity, pioneering and innovation; Hhe is the constant companion of the missionary and the multiplier of the efforts of missions. The growing Global South Church, which adheres itself to a primal faith and still believes that God works with signs and wonders, is the main hope of opening up many access-restricted communities to the hope of Jesus Christ. The last three decades have seen the inception and rapid growth of some of the most influential and charismatic denominations of Africa. These churches tend to have theological emphasis ranging from hyper-faith, prosperity, prayer, holiness and healing. Apart from adhering to different doctrinal emphasis, the new Charismatic churches use different forms of governance. However, the majority
Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is urbanizing faster than any other continent. SSA will have an urban majority by around 2030. Despite momentous urbanization, Africa’s cities do not have the commensurate economic growth and effective redistributive measures required to alleviate poverty By 2010, SSA will have at least 33 cities of more than 1 million inhabitants, with 2 exceeding 5 million and 1 (Lagos) having more than 13 million inhabitants. In 2001, 166.2 million people, or 72 per cent of Africa’s urban residents, lived in slums. During the 1990-2001 period, African urban slum populations increased by about 65 million, at an average annual rate of 4.49 per cent. This is about 2 per cent more than the total population growth (2.68 per cent). In 2015, the urban slum population in Africa is likely to reach 332 million. Lack of improved sanitation is the most important feature of slums in the African urban context. Lack of improved water supply is the second most important determining factor, affecting about onefifth of urban Africa. Africa’s cities have over two-thirds of its people between the ages of 12 and 25. In 1992, the Organization of African Unity estimated about 16 million street children in Africa, and the number was expected to double to 32 million by the year 2000. State of the World’s Cities: Trends in SubSaharan Africa Urbanization & Metropolitanization gleaned from www.unhabitat.org accessed on 10 October 11, 2008
follow a form where the founder’s position is non-elective and is for life. The Apostolic Transformation that casts the point leader as apostolic and mentor of the rest of the movement that swept the continent in the 1990s, found fertile ground in most of these churches. Southern Africa produced churches such as the Rhema Network of South Africa; the Zimbabwe Assemblies of God (Africa) also called Forward in Faith outside the continent; the Bread of Life International of Zambia, Family of God Church of Zimbabwe. The Deliverance Church of Kenya, the Miracle Churches of Kenya and Uganda; and the Nairobi Pentecostal Church Network represent the new charismatic churches from East Africa. West African new charismatic churches are by far the most influential and largest on the continent of Africa. These include the Redeemed Church of God, the Deeper Life Church, the Winners Chapel, and the Christ Embassy. These churches whether for good or for evil have been growing by leaps and bounds, most of the time recycling converts from mainline churches such as the Roman Catholic Church, Presbyterian, Methodists, etc. Africa’s new charismatic churches have an aggressive ambition to grow and extend their boundaries to other nations within and outside Africa. Europe’s biggest congregations are largely African and are led by Africans. God’s Embassy of Kiev, Ukraine, the largest congregation in Europe, is led by Sunday Adalaje of Nigeria. The Redeemed Church of God from Nigeria has more churches dotted all over Europe than any other Pentecostal movement. One weakness, however, that plagues these new movements is that most of these churches are largely concentrated among the indigenous African communities. This must be looked at as a work in progress. The Pauline apostolic teams worked in similar ways. Their first stop in a new city was, most of the times, the synagogue. To Paul this was essential. In the synagogue he hoped to find sympathizers. Commonalities of the faith, culture, and people helped to bridge the gap of evangelism. Of course, most of the time the Jews rejected what Paul presented, but the fact remains that the same strategy is workable in many situations. Thus, the efforts of most African missionaries and evangelists going to the Northern Hemisphere may be evident later, in the years to come, and possibly in subsequent generations.
JUNGLES IN THE CITY A hundred years ago, Africa was a rural continent with its people living in a few known towns. There exists today a different reality altogether. Urbanization continues to totally transform the continent. Africa has over fifteen cities with populations of CITY URBAN AREA CITY COUNTRY above 2 million people; three of these have numbers POPULATION POPULATION Lagos Nigeria 8,714,228 (2007) 13,400,000 (2007) above 5 million people each. Where do all these come from? For a number of years Africa has had Cairo Egypt 7,734,334 (2007) 12,200,000 (2007) an increased population growth rate compared to Kinshasa DRC 6,301,100 7,527,500 the Northern Hemisphere. Percentage-wise, Africa Nairobi Kenya 4,000,911 4,043,100 continues to have one of the highest birth rates in Alexandria Egypt 3,806,300 4,345,800 the world. Africans brought more children into the Addis Ababa Ethiopia 3,627,934 3,627,934 world in the last three decades compared to the Casablanca Morocco 3,344,300 3,344,300 Northern Hemisphere countries. In retrospect, since Abidjan Cote d'Ivoire 3,310,500 3,972,300 the 1960s, Europe sent a message to its people to Kano Nigeria 3,248,700 3,519,500 Ibadan Nigeria 3,078,400 3,670,400 reduce the number of children in their households.
Cape Town Giza Dar es Salaam South Africa Egypt Tanzania 2,686,000 2,541,000 2,456,100 3,086,600 2,541,000 2,456,100
By nature, cities become hubs of economical life and pull people from rural areas. Essentially, people Dakar Senegal 2,384,000 2,384,000 migrate to the cities in search of a good life, which Durban South Africa 2,354,900 2,354,900 is translated in good jobs, proper education, good Luanda Angola 2,193,400 2,640,500 accommodation, access to health facilities, etc. The Conakry Guinea 2,000,000 2,000,000 rush of huge populations to the cities stretches to extremes the essential economical and social facilities necessary to sustain life. Evidently, most of these
facilities do not cope with the heavy strain placed on them by huge populations. The two-fold increase of rural-city migration and rapid birth rates increases the people in the cities of Africa. The larger cities of Africa pose missiological questions for the Church. In a way cities become mission fields, and churches must think missiologically in reaching them. Cities consist of groups and subcultures hidden to most efforts of evangelism. Cities, by nature, stratify people in social classes. Churches tend to evangelize people with greater numbers in that church. If the church is full of people from a certain social class, it then reaches more people from that class and, unknowingly, leaves out people from other social groups. Churches become people blind. People love to congregate with people of their kind. Missionary churches deliberately set strategies to reach people from other social groups in the society. Unfortunately, churches tend to neglect a lot of unlikeable communities such as street kids, addicts, punks, sex workers, beggars, and homeless people, etc, that mushroom in the inner cities. These type of people fail through the cracks as the church evangelizes the city. Of necessity, the church should be about reaching these hidden communities of the city. Urban mission is not a concept of the Western World Church but an attempt to react to the realities of our cities. How then does the Two-Thirds World or the African Church reach the cities that grow so fast and whose social challenges seem insurmountable? The Church must accept that cities are mission fields. Admittedly, based on particular theological postulations, it is anathema to call cities missions fields. However, it is a fact that cities consist of cultures, subcultures, people groups, languages, etc, demanding a particular form of missionaries to reach them. Urban missionaries must discern the culture and the constant dynamism that continually transforms cities. Contextual missions is the essence of missionary work. Contextual theologies struggle with the nature of the interaction between Christianity and culture. Whatever the direction, “true theology” should maintain a healthy balance between belonging to God and His word and, at the same time, belonging to the contemporary, globalized world that is, between its uniqueness and its relevance. Preferring the context above the word of God produces theologies of culture, which in themselves are weak, and fail to impact the ever-changing cultures of the city. Practical contextual theologians or missionaries, therefore, must be dancers of balance. Despite being part of the context, practical theologians bridge the gap between God’s word and the context (culture). A contextual theologian always attempts to evaluate God’s new acts within the settings of biblical antecedents (something He did in the past) and eschatological preferences (His ideal aspirations for the coming Kingdom). Thus, the missionary in the African city must understand God’s intentions for the cities as they look into biblical antecedents and affirm God’s eschatological preferences.
Understanding Culture The African Church struggles with the challenge of training Christians to practice contextualized theology. The question is, “How can the grassroots own and practice balanced, contextual theology?” The urban missionary, like any other missionary, must desire to understand the culture of the city. A good grasp of other cultures does not come easily. African cities are microcosms of the African continent. They are diverse in culture, languages and worldviews. Thus, missionaries must intentionally work towards deciphering the codes that make the city cultures before attempting to reach its people. Contextualization is best done on the “mission field.” It must be connected with the context. The urban missionary or pastor must in some way be a practicing theologian. This is premised on three assumptions. First, the practicing theologian must accept that God’s revelation initiates the process. Theologians come to the task of knowing God’s stated revelation about Himself, creation, humanity
and a host of many other issues.
African theology should not intentionally desire to make African traditions—cultures and religious beliefs—become the revelation of God.
Second, African contextual theologians need a humble and open spirit, sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. This approach scares the majority of Northern Hemisphere theologians who are bound by rules of hermeneutics that do not recognize the leading of the Holy Spirit in the act of theologizing. Of course, this is not a call to become “gazing prophets without limits.” It is an attempt to know what God desires in the context (John 5:19). Biblical antecedents—what God did in the past— and His eschatological
preferences of the coming Kingdom, which are firmly stated in the scriptures, ensure boundaries for any person seeking the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
Third, an intentional approach of allowing the African missionary to read scriptures as an African must be
cultured. Let them enjoy the Bible stories the way it is done within the rich African literary genre. The scriptures are largely built around the narrative genre and are better read “narratively.” Theologies of this type ask
questions about the ultimate origins, purposes, and destiny of the universe and humanity. Africa, an oral society, loves story-telling. Why do I suggest this approach? It allows Africans to develop in the area of their strength, which is story telling. Persuading the Africans to become abstract systematicians just amplifies their weaknesses in the way of handling information. Urban missionaries should, therefore, use all legitimate forms of arts to convey the message of Jesus in the cities teaming with untold social challenges. Specifics of the Cities The African cities are places of twenty-somethings. The average African is below the age of 30 years. Africa is youthful. The Church and theological systems must brutally grapple with this reality. Some of the evangelistic methods the church clings to are dated. Unfortunately, the newer methods appealing to the youthful generation are hated by those that have been in the church for a long time. Within this urban mission approach an emphasis on the youth should be core, for the majority of the African nations are the youth. Missions work in the cities revolves around filling needs and healing hurts. As the African city grows, its social amenities constantly stretch, and most of them snap- releasing chaos. Only a small percentage of the “citicians” access essential amenities that make life livable. The cities are jungles where only the fittest survive. There is untold poverty in the cities. Africa has some of the worlds’ biggest and ugliest slums. An essential part of missionary work is touching the hearts of the city through compassionate ministry. Effective urban missions are ultimately linked to social city outreach. The church can not continue to be disengaged regarding the city’s needs and hurts.
INTEGRAL MISSIONS Missiological discussions of decades ago regarding the evangelical and social mandates appear mundane and treasonable in the face of inconceivable human suffering in Africa. It is true that the evangelicals should lead as the head of the missio Dei train, but some of its coaches should include the Church’s attempt to provide hope and help for those in the jaws of pain. Humanitarian concerns demand that the African Church practice integral mission—the kind that affects the whole person. The church that refuses to take up the social mandate as part of its responsibility should be accused of proof-texting to support its bias. Demanding to practice one mandate above the other is not missiologically correct. Practically, its better to practice them in tandem with each other, and, in my opinion, the evangelical mandate should always be the leading partner.
The foregone disclaimers show that the African Church like others from various continents is called upon to practice integral missions. The list of social dilemmas challenging Africa include HIV and AIDS, poverty, lack of basic essentials, abuse of human rights, with that of the woman and child as urgent. Africa knows pain; no literary work can realistically depict the throes of suffering and pain of people in Africa. The church is called to act upon its responsibility as a healing and Koinonia community (Acts 4: 32-37). However the Church does this, its work should be marked with the values informed by scriptures. Globally, the Micah Challenge, a movement of Christians, Christian organizations, and churches united to eradicate global poverty —an initiative of the Micah Network and the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) —challenges the global church to balance its theology and practices. The global movement holds world leaders to account on the Millennium Development Goals, promises made by 189 nations in 2000 to halve the number of people living on less than $1 a day by 2015. Admittedly, this is an ambitious goal that persuades both Church and State to obey Jesus’ teachings on and concern for the poor and to hearken to the challenge of the prophet Micah who queried: “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6: 8).” Micah Challenge calls on Christians to ensure justice is done, to embrace mercy in our hearts, and to be obedient to God’s commands regarding the poor.15 Micah Network formulation also bestowed the missions enterprise with terminology—Integral Mission—that increased in popularity ever since the several evangelical development agencies from around the world met in Oxford, England, in 2001. The term, which follows the Spanish ‘misión integral’, was felt to be a less misleading expression of concern for the whole person than earlier language that spoke of ‘holistic mission’ or of ‘transformational development.’16 Here is the essence of the Micah Network’s ‘Declaration on Integral Mission’
‘Integral mission or holistic transformation is the proclamation and demonstration of the Gospel. It is not simply that evangelism and social involvement are to be done alongside each other. Rather, in integral mission our proclamation has social consequences as we call people to love and repentance in all areas of life. And our social involvement has evangelistic consequences as we bear witness to the transforming grace of Jesus Christ. If we ignore the world we betray the word of God which sends us out to serve the world. If we ignore the word of God, we have nothing to bring to the world.’17
The declaration is often taken to mean that there can be no authentic Christian social action that is not accompanied at the same time by the verbal proclamation of the Gospel (evangelism), just as there can be no authentic proclamation that is not accompanied at the same time by social action. This approach then tends to understand ‘integral mission’ as holistic practice, a strategy or methodology for our missionary outreach. 18 Admittedly, the Church many times gets lost in the humanitarian activities. Unfortunately, the nature of human suffering draws the Church’s attention, to the end, that the evangelistic mandate is less emphasized. However, it is betrayal of the greatest order for the Church to practice humanitarian ministries without adding the evangelistic mandate. The Church should not apologize for its absolute belief on the Finished Work of Christ. Thus, as it participates in assisting AIDS patients, digging wells, ministering to kids on the street, etc, it should equally demonstrate that God desires the recipients to know Jesus as the Lord. The job is fully done when the humanitarian mandate facilitates the presentation of the gospel. The social dilemmas qualify the African Church to minister socially. But to insist that the Church should only be involved in the evangelistic mandate becomes a mere academic discussion. The reality is that the African Church is too affected by the social upheavals for it to remain quiet.
The Church and AIDS
AIDS brings to the continent of Africa colossal consequences. Its impact on the continent is incomprehensible.19 Imagine the psychosocial, environmental and physical ramifications from this scourge? In all affected countries the HIV and AIDS epidemic brings additional pressure to bear on the health sector. As the epidemic grows, the demand for care for those living with HIV and AIDS rises, as does the toll among health workers.20 In subSaharan Africa, the annual direct medical costs of AIDS (excluding antiretroviral therapy) has been estimated at about US$30 per capita, at a time when overall public health spending is less than US$10 for most African countries. At the end of 2007, women accounted for 50% of all adults living with HIV worldwide, and for 61% in sub-Saharan Africa.21 The toll of HIV and AIDS on households is severe. Although no part of the population is unaffected by HIV, it is often the poorest that are the most vulnerable to HIV and AIDS and on whom the consequences are most tragic. In many cases, the presence of AIDS means that the household dissolves, as parents die and children go to relatives for care and upbringing. A study in Zambia revealed that 65% of households in which the mother died, dissolved. A lot happens to a family before this dissolution happens: HIV and AIDS strip the family of energy, dignity, assets and income-earners, further impoverishing the poor.
Africa and AIDS
AIDS is an overwhelming reality. Look at the 2006 statistics: To date, 65 million people have been infected with HIV, and AIDS has killed more than 25 million since it was first recognized in 1981. In 2006, there were approximately 39.5 million people living with HIV; 17.7 million of those were women. Sub-Saharan Africa has 24.7 million people living with HIV, making it the world's worst-affected region. Some 4.3 million people were newly infected with HIV in 2006. That's more than 11,000 people infected every day. AIDS is the leading cause of death in Africa and the fourth leading cause worldwide. About 2.3 million children under 15 are now living with HIV; 530,000 were infected in 2006 alone. In the hardest-hit African nations, between 1/3 and 2/3 of all 15-year-olds today are expected to die of AIDS. AIDS has orphaned over 12 million children in Africa alone as of 2000; 2010 projects 40 million orphans. In Zimbabwe, one of every 18 citizens is an AIDS orphan; one of every 21 in Uganda is an AIDS orphan. Those with AIDS occupy seventy percent of the hospital beds in much of Africa .
It is hard to comprehend the trauma and hardship that children affected by HIV and AIDS bear worldwide. Not only do HIV and AIDS forecast a situation where children lose their parents or guardians, but many times it means losing their childhood as well. The educational system of Africa is overwhelmed. Fewer children receive basic education. HIV and AIDS do not only affect pupils but teachers as well. HIV and AIDS affect the work place, the church, and the military barracks; it affects every human social infrastructure. It is a cancerous monster. The ramifications are seen everywhere; we live with the effects daily. In most African countries life expectancy has been halved. What are the answers to the ravaging impact of AIDS? No one knows the complete picture of what is, and we still have no answers to the many questions asked. We have to keep praying for answers, even the cure, hopefully. Be assured, the list of its impact is baffling and endless. It is important to reiterate the call for further help in terms of funding. The UN is doing a lot through the Global Fund for AIDS and Malaria. The Faith-based Communities have received credibility in the eyes of those that never thought they could be viable structures to let Africa receive the needed help. In whatever ways, Africa needs more people talking and doing something about AIDS. This is where African faith-based leadership plays its part. Africa needs its leaders to pave the way in issues that relate to prevention and care of AIDS patients.
Africa’s leaders are its brightest beacons in this darkest time of AIDS. The challenge is to have public leaders who demonstrate in life what they proclaim by mouth. The tragedy of African leadership, and perhaps of any continent, is creating discrepancies between what is spoken and what is eventually done. Africa desperately requires moral leaders in the fight of HIV and AIDS. The Global South Church, with its increased numbers and resources, has to deliberately offer that leadership
The Rights of Women, Children and the Nameless
Africa, like any other continent, faces the challenge of treating its people in a humane manner. Human rights abuses are rampant on the continent. Documented stories from the non-governmental institutions testify to this. The African woman, though slowly recognized, is still dehumanized by her society. The woman is the unsung hero of Africa. She works the longest, at least 16 hours a day. She is the most innovative person of our rural Africa. African political leaders are talking about 30% increase of women in positions of influence. This is good, but it is not good enough. The problem is entrenched in the cultural norms and attitudes of the African society. There has to be a deliberate deconstruction of a lot of Africa’s discriminatory cultural belief systems. Africa may take years to pay the sins of its past, but is there any other way? The African leader should not pretend that half of the African army (women) does not exist as he fights challenges such as corruption, poverty, AIDS, malaria, economical battles, etc. This is much more than a mere appeal to gender sensitivity; it is a yearning to face the realities of our continent. Let us not forget the women of Africa. Children are often referred to as the future leaders of our society. But which future? There is no future for them if the leaders, both in the church and civil society, do not create it now. Africa’s children always bear the blunt consequences of bad choices made by fathers and mothers. One hates to see pictures of the child soldier who fights the wars they do not understand at all. It is hard to come to grips with the understanding that Africa’s children are the first victims of famine, wars, AIDS, malaria, cholera, etc. The children on the street are a sad reality of Africa. Child slavery, trafficking, labor, and prostitution are an indictment on the African leadership. Traumatic events and lack of moral responsibility by Africa’s leaders rob the majority of African children of their innocence and childhood. Slowly, a few non-governmental organizations, UNICEF, and faith-based groups have started working towards a better future for Africa’s children. A significant population of Africans “without names” is increasing. People regularly refer to them as the underprivileged of our societies, which is, in itself, an indictment against Africa’s leadership. Different labels categorize them: people with disabilities, the “primitive” tribes in the deserts and rain forests of Africa, the homeless in the urban centers, children on the street, sex workers, etc. These groups may not be exciting to lead nor work with. They may not even be economically profitable. But who said people are for profit anyway? These are human beings created in the image of God and equal in value to those that claim to be cultured and civilized. These may be nameless, but they walk and roam through the cities of Africa. Human rights issues vex Africa. Although every person should be regarded equal to the other, some in African societies are regarded as being less equal. Of course, some rights’ activists go to extremes as they fight for strange rights; there is need for more African Christians to contend for the rights enshrined in the scriptures. Allowing Africans—every type of African, such as male female and children—access to legitimate rights, creates societies that are tolerant and welcoming to all. In this arena of human-rights abuse, that of the woman and child ranks the highest. The demand by African political leaders aiming for 30% of women in leadership, though laudable, is far from being enough. The first major change should be a change of attitudes of men against women; if this does not change, every championing of women rights remains superficial and cosmetic. Of course, Rwanda’s phenomenal record of over 50% women in parliament is commendable. The basic misunderstanding or
the essence of denying others their human rights, lay in a faulty theology of how those people were created. Essentially, those denied rights are thought to be inferior, either because God or the gods made them such or that their design is weak and inferior. The Scriptures are clear and bold. Both male and female are created in the image of God. The woman, just as the man, carries the image of God. Although the woman’s physiological design is different, she is nevertheless created in the image of God. She too carries the God’s essence—the likeness of God. Thus, human rights, such as gender equality, child’s rights are not a forte of the United Nations, but the Church’s too. Actually the Church has a better and stronger reason to articulate human rights for it does understand the creation of humanity.
Compassionate Evangelism stands on the premise that people are more probable to open to the gospel when they are treated in humane ways. People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care. The humanitarian crises in Africa demands compassionate ministries; thus, most of its people turn to God when they see how much the bearer of the gospel cares for them. One of the significant features of the New Testament Church was its ability to express kindness and compassion. It took care of widows who had no hope and help. Believers sold properties in order to serve others (Acts 4: 32-37). How can the African Church accomplish this? First, the Micah Challenge, which persuades the church to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God, must inform theology and church practice. Bible-college curriculums should have adequate courses challenging pastors to do humanitarian ministry. Second, congregations should practice compassionate ministries. Africa should not wait for the Northern Hemisphere people to minister to its weak, abused and sick people. Congregations can use whatever resources they have to minister to the underprivileged found within its community. These acts of mercy serve as pre-evangelism, opening the doors to those living in darkness. Admittedly, the local church is the brightest beacon of light in the dark corners of Africa. An effective and outward-looking congregation is the most transforming community there is in the world. It surpasses the impact of any other non-governmental organization or United Nation agency. Third, the African Church must ensure that it only forms and operates faith-based compassionate organizations with biblically-informed philosophy, mission and vision. Unfortunately, humanitarian agencies tend to shift their allegiances from the churches that formed them to the organizations that fund them. With this shift of allegiance comes a shift in philosophy. Compassionate ministries should be viewed as pre-evangelism acts, preparing the recipients to interact with the evangelistic message of Christ. Whenever faith-based, compassionate ministries circumvent the evangelistic mandate, the nature of the New Testament Koinonia is abused. True Koinonia brings people in fellowship with God (Acts 2: 42-47; 4: 32-37) Compassion is a powerful tool for bringing people to an awareness of the power of salvation. God’s kindness leads to repentance (Romans 2: 4). Evangelism is the essence of compassionate ministries; without it, the acts of mercy do not carry a vicarious meaning of Jesus’ death. As the church digs wells for fresh water for millions of Africans, participates in rescuing the children off the streets, snatches sex workers from the dehumanizing bondage, feeds the hungry and provides disaster relief help, it should do it with the passion of reaching all with the saving knowledge of Jesus. Our compassion for humanity coupled with the passion for souls, brings hope to Africa’s hopeless and helpless situations.
INTERNATIONAL MISSIONARY TEAMS
A CASE FOR THE AFRICA ASSEMBLIES OF GOD ALLIANCE
The Assemblies of God (Africa) grew exponentially in the last fifteen years from about 2 million to about 15 million members and adherents. The last ten years of the 20 th Century were dubbed the “Decade of Harvest” among the Assemblies of God (worldwide) and saw various national churches across the world grow both in numbers and maturity. During that time, the Assemblies of God churches set up a non-legislative alliance that helped facilitate the fellowship, joint projects, mission awareness and theological development, etc. The growth of the Church is evidenced in the number of members and adherents who fellowship there; the number of congregations planted, the number of pastors leading these congregations, the number of bible schools and students, etc. In 1989, Assemblies of God Africa had about 2 million members and adherents. The number grew to 8,594,297 in the year 2000 and to 13,917,391 61.9% in 2006 The growth spans and continues to influence the movement to consider crossing national boundaries to plant other indigenous missionary churches. The reality is that national churches from various nations are sending missionaries to different nations. Mission has become truly from all nations to all nations. Despite the slowness of responding to the missionary call in the scriptures, the Assemblies of God from country to country say they will participate in the worldwide enterprise. Despite its novelty, missions from all nations to all nations creates monumental logistical challenges. First, because the Assemblies of God sees the planting of local churches in the Acts narratives as normative, the movement believes that the best way to do mission is by planting indigenous missionary churches with capacity to start other churches. This type of church replicates itself. It self-governs, finances its activities, and thinks for itself and, at the same time crosses cultures, boarders, and languages to preach the gospel to those who have not heard it yet. Notwithstanding the idea of perpetuating a denomination, it is very clear from the New Testament that setting up a local church is essential in conserving the fruit of missionary labor. Inevitably, this strong DNA-forming philosophy for an Assemblies of God Church makes every national church desire to plant a church in other countries with the same New Testament characteristics. There lies the danger of confusion, fights, and heartache on the mission field. A traffic jam looms and, without care, accidents are bound to happen.22 Second, the remaining people groups without an adequate witness of God tend to be in places farther away from sub-sahara Africa and are philosophically difficult to reach. The majority of these groups are from North Africa, along the coast of Africa and the Middle East. African churches, though getting strong, still need concerted efforts to raise resources to deploy missionaries in these areas. The cost of living in Libya is about ten times that of Malawi. Thus, churches will be called upon to raise ten times more than they can care for a pastor locally. Philosophically, most of the remaining unreached people groups do not compare with the ideological and cultural worldviews of most Africans. The African missionaries going to such people will have to debunk their old stinking thinking about these people. Similarly, they will have to be ready to experience and surmount notions of discrimination and racism.23 African history bequeaths its people with the ability to withstand climatic disparities, rejections, economical hardships, etc. Indeed, the remaining mission frontier is hard to penetrate but not impossible. Third, religions in the access-restricted nations tend to be against proselytizing. Worst still Western missionaries are rejected, for they are seen as carriers of American capitalism and morality—both of which are critically and rigidly disdained. The greatest and best option is the African missionary, who
goes there without the trappings of America and the raiment of traditional missionaries. Yet, whatever they do, they are expected to initiate or start high cost projects. Through the Eleventh Hour Institute (EHI),24 a mission mobile school echoes a strong voice for the creation of deliberate international missionary teams. The concept of international missionary teams presupposes the need to plant indigenous missionary (national) churches. In this sense, this team is a group of missionaries from various national churches who adhere to the common purpose of penetrating an unreached people group with the gospel until a viable indigenous missionary church is created. The partners use their resources, giftings and strengths; they accept a set of roles and guidelines until their stated purpose is accomplished. International missionary teams ensure that resources are not misused by duplication of activities and projects. At the same time international missionary partners contribute diverse strengths, giftings, abilities and resources to the team. Teams of this nature increase the capacity to perform different missionary tasks. Thus, the team corporately fulfills the goal of setting up an indigenous missionary church. Of course, this proposal is grounded on specific assumptions. First, the partners must be those in agreement doctrinally. In this sense the Assemblies of God will not sacrifice the notion of empowerment of the Spirit, which in essence informs its identity for the sake of unity. Second, missionaries in this team aim for the goal of planting a church. This is essential because there are a lot of mission agencies who do not regard planting a church as a major component of mission work; they are satisfied with their presence on the field. Across the continent, various international missionary teams within the Assemblies of God continue to work in their attempt to create an indigenous church.
REDEFINING MISSIONS The foregone discussions on trends demand newer definitions and descriptions of who is a missionary. Definitions draw boundaries and forge specific identities. They apportion ability and right to the definer—the right to being first in describing something. Definitions are avenues describing patterns, paradigms and worldviews of people. This section wrestles with the traditional views of what is mission and draws important implication for the practice of missions from the Global South Church, especially the African Church. The diversity found in the Global South Church through denominations, independent churches, networks, apostolic collaboratives, etc, also implies that missions is done through new forms.
What is Missions?
Unfortunately, most of the time technical and theological abstractions tend to confuse rather than simplify matters. Contemporary missionary definitions conflict with that portrayed by Lucan literature. What is the Church’s mission after all? How does that mission relate to evangelism? Definitions of missions25 range from the embodiment of agape to the “Christianizing” of culture, to the expansion of Christendom, both in terms of government and orthodoxy. 26 The “emerging paradigms” articulated by David Bosch, further enlarge the scope of missions, encompassing it as missio Dei, enculturation, liberation, and ministry by the whole people of God to name a few. 27 Sometimes, Christian missions is seen as something done overseas, in other nations, where the church is not established. The talk about going on a “missions’ trip” implies that it is done far way from home. Failure to biblically frame a definition and description of what missions and evangelism are obstructs the implementation of the same. Protestant missions, especially Pentecostal missions, evolved over the years to mean Christian work done across cultures. Historically, embedded in most missions’ organizational philosophies and theological assumptions is the notion that a missionary, who is a modern equivalent of an apostle, must cross cultural barriers and work towards the Christianization of the people in the host culture.
Unfortunately, such missiological constructs, previously formulated to influence people to intentionally cross barriers in preaching Christ, have led to a skewed missionary image. These well-intentioned definitions and descriptions create missions done only by the expert career missionary. Luke 24:47-48 gives the twin themes of proclamation and witness. Whether presented as “proclamation” (kērussō), “announcement of good news” (euangelizomai, cf. katangellō) or “witness” (martureō and cognates), the missionary’s primary activity is to tell “the truth to the world about God’s action in Christ.”28 Precisely then, all things considered, missions should be the conscious effort on the part of the church in its corporate capacity or through voluntary agencies, to proclaim the gospel (and all it implies) among peoples and regions where it is still unknown or only inadequately known. Missions is not only a department of the church, but the church itself in its complete expression, that is, in its identification of itself with the world.29
Was Jesus a Missionary of God?
Jesus considers His mission all-consuming to His life. He articulates it, demonstrates it by His life and deeds, and passes the same to His mission coalition—the apostles. He comes “to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10). Lucan literature, like other biblical genres, links the narratives of Jesus and the apostolic church in the redemptive scope and history of humanity. Luke believes in the unity and harmony of inspired Scriptures, the massive quotes from the Old Testament demonstrate this fact. 30 He, deliberately, connects the new acts of God done in his day to the acts of God he reads in the text (Old Testament). Thus, Luke shows that Jesus sees himself as the Servant, Prophet, and King sent from Yahweh (Luke 4:18) to bring light into the world through the proclamation of the gospel and the provision of acts of mercy as empowered by the Spirit. He is heaven’s missionary to earth. Yet, He is from among the earth. He is the Son of Man, born from man, sent to man.
Were Apostles Missionaries?
The contemporary apostolic reformation movements challenge both the theological presuppositions and practices of contemporary evangelical mission activities and, thereby, force the church to redefine the word “missionary. 31” The English word “apostle,” a transliteration of the Greek apostolos derives from apostellein, to send.32 The word “apostle” means “one sent.” Its meaning is kindred to the word “ambassador” (2 Cor. 5:20), the messenger whom a king sent to foreign powers, and also to our modern word “missionary,” which equally means “one sent.” The word “apostle” is translated “messenger” in 2 Corinthian 8:23 and Philippians 2:25. It came to mean one who is sent on a specific mission and acts with full authority on behalf of the sender. What do these apostles do in Lucan narrative to warrant his use of the term? In the first treatise, they are learners and itinerant evangelists. Later, their main duties are preaching, teaching, and administration.33 This is the niche the contemporary apostolic reformation exploits in which the apostles are defined as fathers, mentors, and supervisors of other ministers. Despite the gospel’s advance across the cultural borders of Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, Damascus, Antioch, and the rest of Asia Minor, the apostles are not defined by their crossing of any of these cultural barriers, for they minister within the confinement of their cultures, but it is the leadership responsibility thrust on them that defines them as apostles. In those days, every one ministered wherever they were. Philip, running away from the persecution in Jerusalem, ministered Christ cross-culturally to Samaritans. Interestingly, Luke refers to Philip, who is likely a Gentile (by reason of his name) and crosses cultures to preach in Samaria, as an “evangelist” and not as an “apostle” (Acts 8:4-8; 21:8). Could it be that these definitions are more bound by the descriptions of people’s giftedness instead of the ability to cross cultural barriers? The Jerusalem apostles and Paul do not just measure up to the contemporary definition of a missionary.
In Lucan literature everyone is sent to preach the gospel. Jesus sends the apostles to evangelize within Israel on two occasions (Luke 9:1-6; 10:1-17). Later on He commands His community to go out to proclaim the goodness of the Lord in the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). In the Acts of the Apostles, all kinds of people go out to preach. Despite the giftedness, prophets, teachers and evangelists all go out as missionaries (Acts 8:4-8; 11:19-24; 15:31-33). Some even evangelize as they run from persecution. The emphasis is not on which person goes for mission, but that the church goes out to accomplish God’s work. Everyone is a minister and, in this sense, every member of the Jesus community is sent out as missionaries into the entire world to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:18-20).
Prophethood of All Believers
Evangelizing the nations is the responsibility of all the members in the community of Christ. The advent of the Holy Spirit upon all of the one hundred and twenty disciples signifies that all can be used to preach the gospel of the Kingdom (Acts 2:1-4). Peter declares that what happened conforms to what God promises through Joel’s prophet (Acts 2:16-21, cf. Joel 2:28-31). By referring to these Old Testament prophecies, Peter contends that God wants all to be filled with the Holy Spirit. In the Old Covenant, only a few select persons receive the Holy Spirit for select vocations. Moses understands, however, the impact of a Spirit-filled community when he declares that he wishes to God that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them (Num. 11:29). The Holy Spirit equalizes ministry to all believers. The advent of the Holy Spirit transforms the redeemed into a community of prophets— people that speak on behalf of God. The ministry of the New Testament is available to people of all social classes found in the Church. Before this time, ministry vocation depended on tribal and clan affiliation. One needed to be from the tribe of Levi and of the Kohathite clan to practice as a priest. Using a proper understanding of social class dynamics, Luke demonstrates that the empowering Spirit obliterated class and social lines, making the redeemed ministers of God. In this regard, people who have no honor in the society receive honor within the community of the saints, by the transformation of the Holy Spirit. Despite the distinct gender roles in New Testament times, the believers appreciated the gender differences bestowed upon humanity by God but refused to accept the notion that one gender is superior to the other. Peter declared that both men and women could be filled by the Spirit and be used by the Lord in His Kingdom (Acts 2:14-17). One hundred and twenty people, including men and women, prayed and waited together for the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1). This community that experienced the redeeming grace of God by the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, became the charismatic community of Jesus through the advent of the Holy Spirit. In the community of missionaries, generational differences between fathers and sons or mothers and daughters do not dictate the pace of business. The Holy Spirit blesses both fathers and sons for the ministry. The reason the Holy Spirit comes on men is the same reason He alights on women, children, and slaves—to make them a community of God’s spokespersons. The advent of the Holy Spirit collapses the distance between the altar and pew and fills the chasm that separates the priest and laity. In a true sense, in Christ all are ministers or missionaries. The Church as a Spirit-community is composed of God’s prophets. If ministry is part of the new activity of the Spirit, it was also, by that fact, limited to the persons and the community where that activity takes place. For Paul that community was the Church, the body of believers, who had received the Spirit and whose ministry is a means to mediate the Spirit and His gifts and benefits to others. In his understanding, the nature of the church’s own existence determines the nature of its ministry.34 The whole church is gifted; therefore, all believers are ministers who serve in different ways.
The priesthood of all believers becomes a reality in the Church because all have become God’s spokespersons by the coming of the Holy Spirit. Careful observation of the organizational development of the church in Lucan literature shows that the church starts developing structures helpful for administration, governance, and leadership of the community (Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-37; 6:1-6; 14:23). The community recognizes the place and leadership of the twelve apostles. Yet this development does not imply that only a select few preach the gospel. All are ministers anointed to preach the gospel. Over the centuries missions morphed, based on various ingredients on missionary fields, missionssending agencies and in the missionaries themselves.
Afrocentric Missions and Its Present Realities
The present realities in most access-restricted nations demand new ways of doing missions. The Northern Hemisphere bequeaths the Global Church with mission patterns (models) with a unique DNA. Under these models the missionary is usually a highly-educated person and fully supported by a mission-sending agency (or national church). New forms emanating from the South are, however, different. They are a combination of various models. First, because the South does not yet have equal financial muscle to send missionaries using the traditional or Northern Hemisphere Models. Second, although there are increased numbers of theologically-trained ministers, trained missionaries are awfully few. The challenges stalking the African Church should not make it stop from doing what God called it to accomplish. In fact the Church should do mission Dei despite the challenges. Africa’s new definitions of missions steer it away from what gives the Northern Church strength. The Church does missions in the face of lack of substantial financial income to support it. Historical evidence shows that funds come in when a bold vision of mission is cast. Provision follows vision. The various models of missions that Africa is trying include intentional tentmaking, regular mission work with a strong home church support, starting and growing a church in a cross-cultural setting, etc. The frequently-used models include missionaries pastoring churches followed by intentional tentmaking. We have a lot of Charismatic churches of West Africa who send pastoring missionaries all over the world. Regular missions supported by a strong home-church base or mission agency are the least used models. Admittedly, the Church should use as many sacred methods and models to help penetrate communities with least adequate witness of Christ. Unfortunately, Africa does not have data banks and records to account for the many intentional tentmakers going into mission fields. The work done by missionary pastors across the world is evident. In fact, the largest congregations in Europe are those pastored by Africans. They are big and noticeable, and a few bold ones use ICT technology to advance their purposes. Some missiologists discount this model as missions, for the majority of such pastors seem to target only Africans. To a certain degree this harsh criticism fails to account the similar patterns and trends from history. Wherever Apostle Paul went, he first entered the synagogue. This was a place of connection. The communities of the synagogue were of similar descent and understood the scriptures better. Thus, in Paul’s mind he desired to exploit the commonalities between him and the community of the synagogue. Thus, it is alright to begin missions among the people of ones kind if this activity is used as an entry strategy. However, such churches should never settle in that mode forever but seek to actively evangelize the people found in that culture. Churches should institute forays of evangelization to the people of that environment. It does not make sense to have a church for Africans only in, let us say, Kuwait for twenty years without intentional missionary activities for the people of that culture. Another success ingredient is the DNA that is used in setting up the said churches. It should always be known
that missionary churches are those with the ability to set up other missionary churches. The New Testament church planting mission-model motif includes planting other churches with the capacity to plant others. The long-term danger with potential to derail the fast growth of African churches in the Northern Hemisphere is the lack of leadership development. One major responsibility of leaders is to identify, develop and empower other emerging leaders. Two insidious consequence of leadership development haunt the African missionary in the Diaspora. First, there is a tendency by African missionaries to look at fellow Africans as the only potential emerging leaders for leader-development. This leads to a subtle result: the church continues to reach only one kind of people because people tend to associate and reach out to people of their own kind. Second, due to lack of proactive reaching out to people of the North, there are fewer or a lack of Northerners in the Church for leader-development. This becomes a vicious cycle forcing only one kind of people to be in the church. Missionaries only succeed as they learn to develop and empower emerging leaders from within the community. Ultimately, the success of the African church lies in developing northerners to do the work of God. Northerners are better suited and qualified to minister to northerners.
David English, Missions for a New Millennium: Catching up with Paul; available on http://www. globalopps.org/issue%20-%20New%20millennium.htm; accessed on 2 February 2006.
The term was coined by Wyndham Lewis in his book America and Cosmic Man (1948).
Michael Green, One to One: How To Share Your Faith With A Friend (Nashville: Random House, 1995), 19.
J. Christy Wilson Jr. Today’s Tentmakers (Wheaton, Ill: Tyndale House, 1981), 35. Stan Guthrie, Missions in the Third Millennium (Waynesboro, Ga.: Paternoster Publishing, 2000), 119 Wilson, 65.
Dudley J. Woodberry, ed., Reaching the Resistant: Barriers and Bridges for Mission (Pasadena, Calif.: William Carey Library, 1998), 211.
Ibid. Wilson, 40.
Philip Jenkins, The Next Christendom: the Coming of Global Christianity (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), 217-220.
William Underhill Newsweek's European Edition, February 2007
Jerry Falley called the area along the coast of Africa starting from the Gulf of Guinea through the North Africa to the cost of Mozambique as the Rim of Africa. New Forum: Spirit and Power: A 10-country Survey of Pentecostals, available on http://pewforum.org/ surveys/pentecostals page 3, accessed on 7/1/2008
Micah Challenge available on http://www.micahchallenge.org/ accessed 11 October 2008.
Vinoth Ramachandra, What is Integral Mission? ©, 2006 Page 1. Available on http://www.en. Micah network.org/ content/download/1644/19276/file/What%20is%20Integral %20Mission.pdf accessed 11 October 2008. ‘The Micah Declaration on Integral Mission’ in Tim Chester (ed.), Justice, Mercy and Humility: Integral Mission and the Poor (Carlisle, UK: Paternoster, 2002) p.19
Vinoth Ramachandra, What is Integral Mission? ©, 2006 HIV & AIDS IN AFRICA available from http://www.avert. org/aafrica.htm accessed on 5th March 5, 2004.
The source for the Statistics in the Side bar is Worldwide HIV and AIDS Statistics Available from http://crs. org/ worldaidsday/stats.cfm Internet, Accessed on 28th January, 2008.
21 AIDS statistics, available on http://www.avert.org/worldstats.htm accessed 28th January 2008. The world Statistics provided by Avert are lower than those given by CRS available on http://crs. org/worldaidsday/stats.cfm 22
Lazarus Chakwera, Eleventh Hour Institute, Lilongwe, Malawi 1997.
We use the word racism for lack of a better word. Although commonly used, this is a misnomer knowing that there is only one race, the human race on the earth.
24 The Eleventh Hour Institute is a mobile mission school initiated as a joint venture between the Africa Assemblies of God Alliance (East Africa Region) and the Africa Theological Training Services, an Assemblies of God World Mission ministry. Its creation was called for with a proposal by Dr. Chakwera in 1997 in a Leadership II meeting held at Iringa, Tanzania. The first EHI school was held in Malawi in 1999 and since then the Africa Assemblies of God Alliance decreed that the Institute be used to serve whole the Assemblies of God regions in the Sub-sahara.
Before the mid-1900s no distinction was made between mission and missions. A distinction has since arisen. Mission is broader, referring to everything the church is doing that points toward the kingdom of God. By contrast, missions is essentially the specific work of the church and agencies in the task of reaching people for Christ by crossing cultural boundaries. For further discussion see, A Scott Moreau, Gary R. Corwin, and Gary B. McGee, Introducing World Missions, A Biblical, Historical, and Practical Survey (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004), 17. John Mark Terry, Ebbie Smith, and Justice Anderson, Missiology (Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 1998), 18.
Beverly Roberts Gaventa, “‘You will be my Witnesses:’ Aspects of Mission in Acts of the Apostles,” Missiology 10 (1982): 417. O. G. Myklebust, The Study of Missions in Theological Education, Vol. 2 (Oslo, Norway: Egede Institute, 1955), 27. Larry D. Pettegrew, The New Covenant Ministry of the Holy Spirit (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2001), 20.
31 Apostolic Reformation movements are contemporary ministerial networks demanding the recognition of “apostles” as a legitimate category of New Testament ministries such as pastors, evangelists, and teachers, which are fully recognized and appreciated by the Church. The difficulties, however, evolve from the definitions, descriptions, identity, and authority of the present day apostles. 30 29
Everett F. Harrison, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Carl F. Henry, eds., Wycliff Dictionary of Theology (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 2000), 57.
Ibid, 58. E. Earle Ellis, Pauline Theology, Ministry and Society (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989), 7.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.