A “new” way of evangelism takes root in West Africa

Indeed, wholistic ministry really is the oldest tool for evangelism–Jesus invented it. But in West Africa, where “open-air crusades” have been a preferred method for so many generations, today’s Christian leaders are discovering the power of extending Jesus’ love to the whole person, operating from a biblical worldview.

“The reception to our message was just overwhelming, and participants called for more time since it has been just a day’s vision casting,” says Chris Ampadu, a DNA partner working in Ghana.

In the past couple of months, Chris has helped conduct in Ghana:

  • a mentorship program for Christian professionals from six countries.
  • a training for 169 church leaders on “Love Action as a Tool for Evangelism.”
  • an annual Wholistic Club meeting with 10 leaders, each of whom has 30-60 members demonstrating God’s love in profound ways at the grassroots level.
  • presentations on wholistic ministry to more than 800 evangelistic leaders, followed by new plans for a four-day Vision Conference.

“A church elder from Katanga said [the church’s] demonstration of love to the needy and poor has shocked many people in the village such that two Moslems and three animist women have joined the club, saying they have never seen poor people coming out of their poverty to show such compassion and love,” Chris says.

In the DR Congo, cleaning up streets opens the door for the gospel

From Brother Serge, serving the Lord in Kinshasa, the DR Congo’s capital and largest city

For some time, I have been concerned with the physical cleanliness of our community. The streets were lined with litter. Drains were clogged up so much that they became breeding grounds for malaria-spreading mosquitoes — these would claim many lives every day, especially among infants and children.

It was during a training by Harvest (a partner of DNA) that I was challenged to do something about this.

Every Saturday, I took steps to care for this environment where I live. Soon, many neighbors joined me….

Today, you will find a whole group of men, women and even children working together to improve their community. We call ourselves the Wholistic Discipleship Club for Community Transformation.

As a result, we have been invited by many churches to share about this ministry — God’s desire for us to be healthy not just spiritually, but also physically, stewarding our resources and serving each other together.

“We Are Not Cursed!”

Some long-believed lies in southern Africa were exposed during a recent Biblical Worldview and Transformational Development Conference.

Over 40 people attended the three-day event, conducted at Mawilini in September. They came from the communities of Mawilini and Kandeni and represented four denominations: the IRM, Kalibo Church, Methodist, and Catholic.

Hein van Wyk (center) facilitating with Pastor Jose Ganhale (L) translating into Takwane and Rev. Danie Murray (R) translating into Portuguese.

The session was sponsored by four partners: Hope for Africa (Hein van Wyk), Hande Vat Project (Rev Danie Murray), TOPIA (Rev Johannes Aucamp) and The Tumbine Synod of the Reformed Church of Mozambique (IRM). The IRM Synod was represented by Pastors Souza Estaforde (IRM Liazi) and Jose Ganhale (IRM Namitimba) who are both being trained as conference facilitators.

The IRM congregation at Mawilini, pastored by Pastor Carlos Herbert, Moderator of the Tumbine Synod,  hosted the event.

This conference was the first in Mozambique to be arranged and funded by the local community. The desired outcomes were: 1) a growing vision for community development through cultural transformation, 2) a basic understanding of worldview and of the role of the Church in society, 3) all of this practically applied through the demonstration of God’s love in every area of community life.

The facilitator team debriefing

During the conference the delegates had the opportunity to deal with cultural lies like tribalism, male superiority, the lie that work is a curse, and fatalism. In small groups they discussed the roots and fruits of these lies, how they are transmitted in the culture, what the Bible says about them, and what practical steps can be taken to expose these deceptions.

The group made one practical application during the week. The married men left their benches to cross the aisle and sit with their wives on the floor on the other side. The next morning the wives in turn sat with their husbands on the benches. This simple action showed a changed mindset, one which acknowledged that Jesus Christ had demolished the wall of separation between male and female.

The following are some of the comments delegates made during the course of the conference:

A wide range of ages was represented

  • We as Africans are not cursed; we do not use our opportunities and what we have. Because of this others take away what we have.
  • Now we know that God sent us to work.
  • I’m encouraged by Galatians 3:28 which say that there is now no separation between different tribes and between male and female. It liberated me.
  • We discovered Africa has two sides – blessed and broken. We know the reason is our thinking; our glasses. We should change our glasses.
  • We now have new ideas to start new things.
  • We talked about fatalism that we cannot change anything, but now we know that we can change things.
  • All things are possible in Christ.
  • Wives can now sit with their husbands in Church.
  •  Church is not the building but people who believe in Jesus Christ.
  • Christ is the Head; we are the body who demonstrates His love.
  • Christ came to reconcile us; all of us – with one another and with God.
  • Jesus is who God is.

Pastors Souza Estaforde (R) and Jose Ganhale (L) being trained as facilitators

As a result of the training, three Seed Projects were done by the participants. The first was the repair of a damaged bridge at Maramotondo. A second project, done by people from different denominations to demonstrate unity, was repairing the house of Pastor Kalito Mario (the pastor from Kalibo Church) which had recently burnt down. The small group also raised 100 Malawi Kwacha and presented the gift to him at the closing of the conference.

A group of youth did the third project. They composed a new song and sang it to the conference attendees at the conclusion of the three-day gathering. One of the truths of the conference lessons was captured in the lyrics: “To work is not a curse; it is a blessing. Go and read Genesis 2:15.”

By Hein van Wyk

Love Builds a Bridge

Rongin Ntirivamunda of Rwanda relates how two communities once separated during the rainy season became connected, and the surprising results for education, government relations, and church growth.

Ethiopia: The Fruit Follows the Toil

Demelash Lemma is Horn of Africa coordinator for Samaritan Strategy Africa. He recently traveled from his home in Ethiopia to the DNA global forum in South Africa where he shared the following testimony.

Demelash was first exposed to DNA teachings at a Nairobi Vision Conference in 1999. For the last 10 years, he has worked with Harvest International. In that time, Demelash has trained over 10,000 local church leaders in 4,000 congregations.

“It has been a great privilege for me to share this message,” he said. He went on to acknowledge that the first six years was difficult, like breaking hard ground.

“The idea was not welcome because of the traditional church things,” he admitted, “but the last three or four years the work has begun to pay off.”

In recent years, Demelash has had opportunity to work with a new denomination, the Emmanuel United Church (EUC), founded about 20 years ago. Today it has 130 local congregations, and all the pastors have completed a Vision Conference. Many have also finished a Training of Trainers.

“These leaders are young, professional and passionate,” Demelash says. “Whenever they plant a church, they start it not only with the idea of soul winning but they also go to the local government and ask how they can help their communities.”

God has used the EUC to serve the brokenness of Ethiopia’s families affected by HIV/AIDS. Each local EUC congregation has taken care of “at least two orphaned kids with clothing, food, school materials, and visiting.” Some churches have even started Saturday tutoring classes with professionals giving their time and expertise. Every member is contributing their time, money, gifts to heal the brokenness of that community.

One congregation in the capital city is supporting 85 orphans and poor families. Each child is “adopted” by one or two church members. Church members are also offering tutorial class every Saturday.

Improvement in church and government relations is one of the benefits of this ministry.

“The local government sees this church caring for elderly people, planting trees, caring for HIV victims and poor families,” Demelash says. “As a result, the government has changed its mindset about the church. Government officials, when approached by funders from the West wanting to help, says, ‘Please go to that church. They know what you should do!’”

This congregation also has 50 home Bible studies, and Demelash expects further stories of impact.

“I am hoping to see the seed projects going to a bigger level and bringing transformation to that community.”