This sponsored post was written by Phil Hunt and Ben Straub on behalf of Central Africa Baptist University in Kitwe, Zambia, a university I have visited and believe in.
When you hear the phrase “missions in Africa,” what image comes to mind? For previous generations of Americans and Europeans, this phrase stirred up visions of a lone pioneer in a pith helmet and safari shirt, hacking his way through the uncharted bush to reach tribes who had never heard the name of Christ. Nowadays, our collective imagination is just as likely to conjure up images of energetic young people flying out in large groups on short trips, eager to address social ills such as poverty, hunger, and AIDS, driven by a longing to be the hands and feet of Jesus. But how many of us immediately imagine an ambitious young Malawian, Zambian, or Sudanese believer with a Bible in his hand, a passion for God in his heart, driven by a commitment to the Great Commission and motivated by a love for the souls of his people?
For far too long, the Western Church has operated as if missions is something that flows “from the West to the rest.” While there are still some hard to reach places that have never heard the gospel (especially in North Africa), and while it is undoubtedly true that holistic missions must meet people in their need, these approaches should not be the dominant paradigm for effective and strategic missions in the 21st Century. The continent of Africa, in particular, has unique needs and challenges that demand a fresh ministry approach. Over the last several decades, the reputations of some western missions organizations have become tarnished in Africa, significantly hampering their effectiveness. Sloppy financial dealings, inadequate cross-cultural preparation, poor communication between missionaries and African church leaders, quick-result strategies, and unbiblical theologies have jaded many African and Western Christians alike. Yet the Church is still commissioned to proclaim the gospel to every tribe, tongue, nation, and people.
One healthy way to do this while avoiding these types of errors is through a strategic partnership between the Western Church and the African Church to reach the continent of Africa with the gospel. Today, there are many healthy churches and church networks across sub-Saharan Africa. Sadly, this is not how the Western Church typically perceives it (Chopo Mwanza, 9Marks blog). In reality, these churches are obedient, disciple-making, church-planting, mission-driven, contextually relevant bodies of believers. Many of them are actively engaged in Great Commission work. “The church in Africa is proving to be better equipped and ready to cooperate with the global church in fulfilling the task of world evangelization. Not only are there more available workers now offering themselves to be sent from Africa into mission fields on other continents, but there is a rapid growth and availability of national workers in Africa that need to be recruited, trained and sent out among their own people and others in different parts of Africa” (Mission in Africa: A Renewed Focus).
So there is much for which we praise God! There is also much that the Church in the West should be cautious not to interfere with or usurp. What then does the Church in Africa and the rest of the majority world need today? How can the Western Church partner effectively with the African Church, while avoiding the pitfalls of paternalism and ethnocentrism? For starters, they need Christ’s Spirit and his Word, which by God’s grace they already have! But they also need what young churches and ambitions church movements have required since the very earliest days of the church. They need their people equipped to press the mission forward. In 2 Timothy 2:2, the Apostle Paul exhorted Timothy to train faithful men so that they could also teach others. Paul knew the church would not advance without the strategic ministry of training, and that remains as true today as it ever was.
In a recent interview, Dr. Steve Lawson said, “If you had one bullet to fire, and hit the most strategic target, you would train men to preach the word of God. That sets in motion everything that is good and healthy in the church. I want to urge churches to come alongside ministries faithful to the word like Central Africa Baptist University.” This training then becomes a partnership opportunity that Western churches, that YOU can get involved in to invest directly into the Church in Africa.
COMMIT TO HELPING AN AFRICAN CHRISTIAN TRAIN FOR MINISTRY AT CABU
More than a decade ago, God raised up the ministry of Central Africa Baptist College (now University) in Kitwe, Zambia. This ministry exists to serve local African churches by training the next generation of servant leaders in Africa for Great Commission living. Students are applying to Central Africa Baptist University committed to serving Christ and his Church in Africa. They have come to CABU in Zambia from more than 15 African nations. Graduates return to their local churches to step into leadership as pastors, missionaries, educators, and chaplains. CABU works hard to keep tuition affordable. Students, however, need financial help to close the gap between the high cost of education and what is affordable for a student in Africa to pay. Your donation through CABC USA allows you to partner directly with the Church in Africa. This partnership invests in the training of men and women for ministry by providing financial grants to Central Africa Baptist University to keep tuition costs affordable.
Your partnership will open up an avenue for you to experience a meaningful connection with those preparing for ministry in Africa. Partners who give to CABC USA will receive a testimony update from a student studying at CABU twice each year. You will have the privilege to get to know and pray for a new student and will gain firsthand knowledge of the joys and challenges of serving Christ’s Church in Africa.
We invite you to help us change the paradigm of what “missions in Africa” looks like. Join us in raising up a generation of faithful African men and women who can “teach others also.” Partner with churches across the continent in the work they are already doing, in order to lift their hands and strengthen their ranks, that the Church of Christ in Africa may grow and flourish. We know that the opportunities you have to invest in God’s work are unlimited, but please consider partnering with CABC USA. You can make a personal difference not only in the life of a student but also in a local church congregation. By doing so, you can change the face of missions in Africa.
Articles & Recommendations:
- video: Discover Central Africa Baptist University
- challies.com: Training A New Generation of African Pastors and Church Leaders
- 9Marks: Building Healthy Churches in Sub-Saharan Africa
- Conrad Mbewe: Colleges worth attending in Zambia
- Kērussōmen: CABU’s Journal of Theology for the African Church
- Testimony of Mohammed from Darfur
- Testimony of Joseph from Blantyre
- Testimony of Samson, deaf pastor from Ndola
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