The people of Africa are quite hospitable, loving and very peaceful. Religion is one of the most important issue in most African society and the concern for the hereafter is upper most in the thought of millions of people in this part of the world. Missionaries targeting the region are quite welcomed. You will be surprised at the great hospitality and awesome reception you would be given particularly for those missionaries coming through established mission agencies and Church organizations.
However, there are certain regional issues and strategic area of interest you’ll need to be aware of. This articles is meant to probably help prepare you spiritually, emotionally and professionally before your arrival. Below are some of them:
- A number of countries have been shattered by decades of wars which destroyed much of their infrastructure, including housing, roads, electricity and agriculture. Rebuilding the infrastructure will required enormous resources. So you must make up your mind as you travel to most parts of Africa, never think you are visiting some world cosmopolitan cities like New York, Frankfurt or London. You are visiting a world region that is in need of urgent socio economic attention. You are coming to a world territory with inadequate social amenities, like poor road network, bad drinking water and irregular supply of electricity.
- As you prepare your trip to Africa, do not neglect the possibility of developing entrepreneurial initiative if you have the resources. Most conflict and armed opposition groups are being carry out by jobless youths. Their activities have continued to constitute serious threats to national stability and security in their various sub regions. If they are appropriately rehabilitated with adequate gainful employment, their respective communities will enjoy peace, and poverty could be significantly eradicated.
- Certain provinces, districts and states in some countries have imposed a deviant expression of strict Islam. They grant freedom ( officially and unofficially) to practice the Islamic religion but there appears to be no freedom to propagate other religions such as Christianity or to convert from Islam to Christianity.
- As a result of strong cultural bonding, commitments to national unity and socio economic development is often weakened in most countries, because most people are committed culturally to their ethnic groups. They render more allegiance to their tribal chiefs and ethnic kings than to the national government. And Christianity in such territories are often cultural than biblical.
- Most Africans perceive poverty, activity of demons and lack of security to be their greatest problems. You should be prepared to address these issues as much as you can.
- Missionaries targeting Africa must beware of spiritual compromised. Be theologically vigilant with the kind of associates you relate with in your area of primary assignment . A significant proportion of clerics seen to have deviated theologically, embracing strange theological convictions which are not in conformity with sound biblical theology. With such syncretic beliefs, some clerics have attracted large crowds, and posses incredible national religious fame. The missionary must be watchful like a good watchman or else you’ll be a victim of their theological excesses and scriptural bankruptcy.
- Be spiritually rooted. Most local communities have deep anti- biblical orientations. Before engaging any people group, make sure you’ve been fortified with the power of the Holy Ghost ( Acts:1:8) or else you’ll be a casualty of evil supernaturalism like the seven sons of Sceva (Acts:19:11-20). Be prepared, through “marathon” Biblical prayer and fasting, to disarm and dethrone the evil principalities, powers, territorial rulers, hosts of darkness and the demonic princes that rules your target area.
- Be ready to take the gospel message to the grass root of the society. Most missionaries deals only with higher level national leaders but their ministries are never felt at the grass root level by the orphans, widows, homeless, the megapoor and slum dwellers.
- Ensure that your relief materials and financial assistance gets to the lowest level of the society. Most national leaders hardly pay significant attention to the poor and the needy. They hijack virtually every thing that comes from the foreign missionaries. They use such resources and international contacts to take care of their immediate families and even send their kids to nice colleges and universities in Europe and North America, while the orphans and widows struggles helplessly in the burning oven of deep seated hunger and abject poverty
- As a missionary, you must be willing to shun corruption and extravagant living. The average life style of some Western missionaries serving in Africa are often higher than that of home missionaries in Europe and North America. Activities of some people from the West who are visiting Africa for missionary work shows that they are not here for the real purpose of evangelism, discipleship and church planting but maybe for some other personal reasons. Africa needs real missionaries not tourists.
- Learn to identify with the poor. A number of missionaries working in Africa, hardly identify with the poor in their poverty. They associate more often with the relatively affluent. I am not discouraging any meaningful association with the upper class, it is a welcomed move. They need to be evangelized and discipled. What I am saying is that you should not neglect the poor. Remember them, identify with them and carry them along. They formed a larger portion of any society.
- Be a faithful steward of God’s given resources. Some missionaries raise enormouse resources from their home countries for the evangelization of Africa but some of the funds gets missing in transit and are never channeled into the task of discipleship and frontier evangelization. It is also true that some African Church leaders visits the West annually and raise millions of dollars for the work of evangelization and community development in the region but the funds never gets to the mission fields. This is wrong. Always channel every evangelical gifts and donations to the appropriate designated mission field or projects they were meant for. Any overaged, however, could be channeled to similar evangelical causes but don’t mismanage and don’t misappropriate.
- Detach yourself from every negative foreign influence. Don’t import into Africa any negative Western philosophy. Come with your Bible only and nothing more. This is because the subtle spirit of error that destroyed the Christian West is currently eroding the foundation of Biblical Christianity in Africa. We must stand against every attempt to “Europeanize”, “Americanize”, “Asianize” and “Africanize” Christianity. We must stand solely on the platform of Scriptural truth. Full stop.
14 Contemporary missionaries visiting Africa today must ensure that the region is not made a dumping ground for every wind of doctrine and negative theological opinions that are currently gaining root in other parts of the world. Help make Africa Scripturally sound and theologically correct.
15 As an international missionary you have a God given responsibility to uphold biblical truth and sound missiological initiatives that promotes collective evangelical advancement and spiritual progress in the region. Most people in Africa are open to the gospel but they have only heard half truth. A significant proportion have never heard the full redemptive gospel of Jesus preached to them.
16 Frontier missionaries must be prepared to encourage the indigenous peoples of Africa and their respective governments to always look up to God for their needs, not to the West. God can use any one to meet the needs of a people, however, I believe there must be a limit to which Africa should look up to the developed nations for financial and technical assistance, if she must develop like other world regions. We should look up to God and trust Him for our needs. Jeremiah 17:5 says “Thus saith the LORD: cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD”.
17 Western trainers could consider a complete overhaul of those Western training models which may not be effective in Africa. Be prepared to address the pitfalls in our current Western theological education and worldview with a view to providing appropriate ministerial training models that will deal with our peculiar challenges from African perspectives.
18 As international missionaries, we must subscribe to training models that are entirely biblical. I mean programs that could protect historic biblical truths; preserve Christian unity and Charismatically enhance the current status of global evangelization.
19 The missionary and her Western sending agency must respect the collective priority of the receiving agency. Treat the local agency with respect as equal partner in the gospel. Never treat them as a servant who must accept whatever you say.
20 The trainers theological course contents must be biblically thorough enough with the capacity to produce global pastors and international evangelists who will be adequately equipped to preach Christ not just in Africa but anywhere in the world. African pastors needs credible international curriculum that can launch them globally. Yes, we should be trained to disciple our local territories but we must be adequately equipped also to evangelize the world at large because the global Church has gone beyond the era of mission from the West to the rest to mission from everywhere to everywhere.
21 Observe the principle of sound financial management and accountability at all times. Pay accurate attention to activities that promotes evangelical progress in your target area and always take into account the impact of your spiritual, social and economic actions on the local people.
22 Once you have been accepted and received by a Church or a local agency as a missionary in their country, seek to become an integral part of that organization and be a party to their evangelical proceedings. Do not hide under their cover to run your own programs except you are authorized to do so. Don’t operate in rebellion. If you wish to withdraw from the organization, notify in writing, your intention, at least some months or even a year in advance. At the expiration of such period, you may, if the notice is not withdrawn, cease to be a member of that community. During the period of your notification, you shall nevertheless comply with activities of the organization and shall be bound to discharge your obligations up to the date of your withdrawal. You must be willing also to follow all relevant due processes and comply with all the immigration procedures. Do not violate the immigration laws of your target nation.
23 Mission agencies must assist one another and should adopt a common position that foster biblical love and strategic Church growth. To this end, a foreign missionary may conclude evangelical, economic and technical agreements with one or several other mission agencies or local Church councils in his area of service provided such agreements are not incompatible with the provisions of the working document and terms of service he has with his host agency. He shall communicate such agreements to the leadership/eldership team and board of trustees of his host agency. In the event of incompatibility, he shall take appropriate steps to eliminate such incompatibility where necessary, or else you make your host agency to be at variance with the other agencies and local council of Churches in your area. We must learn to do things in an orderly manner always.
24 Learn to follow the job schedule given to you. If you have any adjustment to make, do not hesitate to do so, but suggestion for such adjustments should be submitted to your leadership/eldership team for review and possible approval. Where no job description exist, you may develop one but it must be in line with the furtherance of the vision and key objectives of your host agency.
25 God’s envoys irrespective of their denominational affiliation should encourage Churches and mission agencies to come together on regular basis to harmonise their respective evangelical policies for the common purpose of the strategic empowerment of the Christian community and the effective evangelization of their respective field of operation.
26 Be prepared to assist local Church agencies to formulate and establish appropriate holistic community development mechanisms that will enhance the spiritual, economic and social conditions of the poor, rural African women, widows and orphans.
27 Frontier missionaries must not see themselves as mere humanitarian officials, “philanthropists”, or agents of community development. Our social work must be unique. We must collectively undertake to formulate and implement policies and mechanisms that enhances the task of evangelism and ensures a balance between Church growth and socio – economic development of the people. Make sure to include evangelism, discipleship and cross – cultural missions as central components in the formulation and implementation of whatever missionary policies and community development programs you may have.
28 Provide your converts and disciples with sound biblical foundation and encourage honesty and transparency in their daily activities. You may also encourage them to participate, as much as they may be led by the Holy Spirit, in their national government. Such selfless involvement in government and attitude of accountability could contribute significantly in eliminating the scourges of corruption and financial mismanagement facing most countries in the region.
29 God’s global envoys , irrespective of their agency or denominational background should encourage the systematic exchange of experiences and information on missionary training, unreached people groups, international travels, national and regional security and the current move of the Holy Spirit in their areas. Such regular evangelical fellowships and exchange of ideas could provide their colleagues with the fresh zeal and evangelical enthusiasm they desperately need to move ahead and make strategic progress in their missionary career.
30 Ensure the survival and protection of refugees, stateless persons, disabled individuals and those who have been abused, neglected and exploited. Reach out to them with the gospel and message of hope and provide them with the appropriate assistances that could facilitate their re – integration into the society.
31 Assist the national Church to improve their national evangelical projects in such a way that they can minimize their dependency on the West. Promote training the trainers through the use of appropriate methods and aids that are socially and culturally relevant. Review existing projects to know how relevant they are currently. Seek to establish new ones as may be necessary.
32 The missionary’s message must get to the centre of the heart…to the depth of the human soul…to the deep roots of the society. It must penetrate beyond the bedrock of the people’s cultural identity and ethnic religious philosophies. While we respect the cultural values of our target territory, we must not forget that the Christian Bible is above all cultures and all cultures must submit to it. Any leaning to the people’s cultural charter and heritage and philosophical ideologies at expense of Scriptural truth will be inevitable.
I hope you’ve gotten one or two vital information that could help reshape your plans as you undertake a missionary career in Africa. We intend to continue with this article in future issue. Thank you.