May 30, 2017 By World Watch Monitor
Jihad in Africa
In the Sahara-Sahel region, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, along with other groups affiliated to Al-Qaeda, continues to carry out violent attacks, including the kidnapping of missionaries: Dr. Ken Elliott in Burkina Faso, Jeff Woodke in Niger, and more recently a Colombian nun, Gloria Argoti, in south-eastern Mali.
In East Africa, the Somalia-based Islamist group, Al-Shabaab, has caused havoc in both Somalia and neighbouring Kenya. Two years ago, it was responsible for the massacre of 147 students at Garissa University, when Christians were singled out and killed.
In the West-Central region of the continent, Boko Haram’s insurgency, which has claimed more than 20,000 lives since 2009, and displaced more than 2.5 million others, has become a regional threat, affecting the four countries that form the Lake Chad Basin (Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon).
Christians have paid a particularly heavy price during Boko Haram’s insurgency. Open Doors, a global charity supporting Christians under pressure for their faith, estimates that, between 2006 and 2015, at least 15,500 Christians died in religion-based violence in Nigeria’s north. It also says 13,000 churches were destroyed, abandoned or closed between 2006 and 2014, and that 1.3 million Christians fled to safer regions during the same period.
In 2014, Boko Haram was named the world’s deadliest terror group, ahead of the Islamic State, according to the Global Terrorism Index.
Attacks attributed to radical Islamic groups are happening on a weekly, or even daily, basis in Africa, posing security concerns across a vast swathe of the continent.
The phenomenon has dramatically affected Church activities in various regions.
But Rev. Reuben E. Ezemadu, Coordinator of the Movement for African National Initiatives (MANI), a grassroots African initiative aimed at mobilizing African churches to send Africans as missionaries around the world, told World Watch Monitor the violence has at least had one unexpected positive effect: boosting mission work in Africa.
“The violence constitutes a real challenge for churches and mission work. But on the other hand, people displaced by that insurgency can come to places where they can easily be reached by the Gospel,” he says.
“Just an example: the widow of a missionary killed by Boko Haram in north-east Nigeria, who lives now in Ibadan, in the south, got engaged to a new convert from a Muslim background, who came to our school for training in mission. They got married in September last year. Later, they discovered that in a district of Lagos, there are Kanuris [an ethnic group originally from Borno State] living there and doing business. So now they are engaged in missionary work, reaching the Kanuris in Lagos.”
Rev. Ezemadu says there are now many missionaries among groups of internally displaced persons [IDPs], and that many Muslims have converted to Christianity.
“The upsurge in attacks have made some Muslims detest their religion,” he says, “and to ask the question: ‘Is this really a religion of peace? Is it really what we should follow?’ And as they come into contact with Christians, who show them the love of God, most of them are turning to Christ. We have heard stories of how God visited some of them, through wonders and miracles.”
He points towards the stories of Stephen, the first Christian martyr, and the apostle Paul, who started out as a persecutor of Christians.
“God could have prevented Stephen from being killed, but He let him be killed so that the Gospel could go beyond Jerusalem,” he says. “And then He let someone like Paul come on board, in order to do more things than Stephen could have done. We regard Paul as the first Boko Haram militant. His message was: ‘You are following Christianity. Because of that, you will die’. That’s what Boko Haram are doing now. But God used Paul to take the Gospel to different places.
“Out of our crisis, something great will come. For years churches were focused on converting people and claiming territories, without making disciples. The crisis will now force them to turn to Christ and be dependent on him.”
A turning point
Rev. Ezemadu adds that the nature of mission in Africa has changed, with Westerners no longer at the forefront.
“The crisis has also sent us a clear message regarding the future of mission in Africa,” he says. “Even before this upsurge of violence, anybody that is sensitive to the Holy Spirit would have known that the era of Western mission, in the way it used to happen in Africa, had passed.
“Even if Westerners can come, they can no longer go as deep as they used to go, for security reasons. Whereas African missionaries can integrate and mix with people.
“Moreover [some of] the people Westerners want reach in Africa are already in the West. God has brought them next to their doors, all over, whether in the US or Europe. Why don’t they stay there and reach them, as they can’t go to Somalia to reach Somalians?
“[Westerners] can also assist and encourage those who are doing it here in Africa. It’s like what America does [in conflict]: instead of sending troops to Iraq, they train Iraqis and equip them. Why can’t we do that in mission?
“We are not saying that Western missionaries should not come to Africa. But the time has come for missionary agencies to re-think their paradigm of missions, and even their strategies, and work in partnership with locals.
“That’s why a platform like this, MANI, exists – in order to engage African churches in mission, and also promote partnerships.
“So, the question is not whether Africans are ready to take over the mission work. It’s only for us to discover our part and play it. Because for years we were sitting down and the white people were playing it for us.
“But now, many Africans are having breakthrough in leading international mission organizations (SIM, IFES, SIL, etc.). Some started as students, others as footballers. But they are now planting churches and doing mission.
“That’s the message that MANI carries. We are God’s people, and we have a part to play in extending God’s kingdom. And what we have is sufficient to do what we can. But we are open to partnership.” (Source: World Watch Monitor).
I stand here this morning, as the coordinator of the Transformational Discipleship Network of the Movement for African National Initiatives (MANI), to welcome once again, every participant in this landmark congress.
Organizing this congress has been an act of faith. It originated from the MANI congress of last year (March 2016) in Addis Ababa. There, the suggestion was made and approved for the subject of discipleship to be given a special continental consideration in our bid to fulfill the great commission.
Today, and by the grace of the Almighty God, we are witnesses of the realization of this goal. This is why, as a first step, we should give all the glory to God for inspiring and providing for all of us, who are here now. There are many more enthusiasts, who for one reason or the other, are not able to be with us in this meeting. But God has made it possible for us to be here. We praise Him for His mercy and provisions.
Some of your communications to me by email indicated that there is a high level of excitement, and expectation, that this congress is going to be a huge success. I consider this as an indication that God is already with us and will do great things this week. We shall witness a great milestone as we discuss this critical issue of how to improve the practice of discipleship in the churches of Africa.
History is about to be made
To the best of my knowledge (which I must confess, is highly limited), the ACD 2017 is the first of its kind as a continental effort to bring together, espousers of some discipleship models, to discuss their understanding and operation of life-transforming discipleship. I was aware of the effort made in 1999 to host a discipleship conference in Edinburgh, Scotland. Though I was not able to attend at that time, two of those who were at that conference told me they did not feel satisfied with the focus.
Since then, however, a heightened activity can be observed globally on the development and propagation of discipleship ideas and programs. Today, there are many websites on discipleship.
In this congress, we have listed five primary discipleship models for presentation and discussion. There are four others (and maybe more). We hope the various presentations will bring us closer to identifying what would be contextually relevant to churches in different parts of Africa.
I believe that the Holy Spirit will help and guide us to achieve this primary goal.
Discipleship and the Church in Africa
I was at the Global Congress on World Evangelization (GCOWE) which held in Pretoria, South Africa, in 1997. It was one of the greatest meetings of the global church to hold on African soil. It considered how to reach the rest of the unreached people groups globally, and particularly in Africa. I was highly motivated.
But I was also concerned that in discussing the great commission, focus was limited to missions and the best strategies for carrying it out; evangelism and the tools for it; church growth and church planting; research, and more.
I spoke to the then General Secretary of the AEA about my amazement that nothing was mentioned about discipleship as a vital component of the great commission. His answer was, “Who doesn’t know what discipleship is?” I was embarrassed. But I left Pretoria wondering about what African church leaders really know regarding discipleship.
In 2009, at the pre-Lausanne 2010 meeting in Cape Town, I again raised the issue in a break out session of African church leaders. Once again, it was obvious that discipleship did not seem to have a significant place in global and African church discussion on world evangelization.
But then, the impact of a lack of focus and emphases on discipleship in Africa has become obvious. The continent’s response to earlier world evangelization efforts yielded much harvest. Many souls were won to Christ and to the churches. Much church planting was done. To a fair-minded person, Africa excelled in the much that the global church emphasized in its pursuit of the great commission.
But soon, some people began to describe Christianity in Africa as being “one mile wide and one inch deep.” A number of times I heard some ministers use this statement in a derogatory manner. They spoke as if spiritual decline is native to Africa, or just to spite what God has been doing in Africa’s pursuit in the mentioned dimensions of the great commission
Yet we cannot argue against the ‘one mile wide-one inch deep’ phenomenon because the political, economic, and other indices of development and growth in Africa betray a lack of church impact on the continent. And, the ineffectiveness of the church to impact the continent with righteousness derives from her inability to raise genuine disciples of Christ who will make transformational impact in the world around them.
We must acknowledge that a few leaders have been making some isolated efforts on improving the situation. Unfortunately, it seems that majority of church leaders in Africa, particularly those heading the big denominations and fast growing ministries, are immune to this challenge, and have remained so for a long while now.
But let us accept that the “one mile wide-one inch deep” phenomenon is true, that is, that spiritual growth of the church in Africa is well below expectation, and does not match the rapid physical growth. What then should we do?
We owe the ACD 2017 to God’s grace. But we also thank God for the leadership of MANI, which, from the 2006 congress here in Nairobi, has consistently demonstrated a willingness to accommodate discussion on discipleship in recognition of its importance in any holistic fulfilment of the great commission.
This congress is an attempt to do something concrete and beneficial about discipleship in Africa. With the gathering of such choice leaders like you, God will give the church in our continent a breakthrough.
Africa’s Prophetic Destiny
If global church leaders have limited the way they choose to understand and pursue their fulfilment of the great commission, African church leaders should now break away from that limitation. If the world does not accept that spiritual decline is a global church phenomenon and dilemma, the church in Africa should courageously embrace the tag of the “one mile wide and one inch deep” disorder. And, it is as we adopt this attitude that we can be spurred to do something reasonable to change the testimony to ‘one mile wide-one mile deep.’
There is a prophetic destiny that Africa carries in this 21st century, and to which we must wake up. In a certain meeting of some global church leaders, Professor Andrew Walls, formerly of Aberdeen University Scotland, a Christian historian of note, had this to say.
“Christian advance in the world is serial and in the providence of God, it is the Christians of Africa, and Asia and Latin America and the Pacific that are next in the series… It means that the Christians of the southern continent are now the representative Christians, the people by whom the quality of the 21st and 22nd century Christianity will be judged, the people who will set the norms, the standard. And the quality of the 21st century Christianity will depend on them.”
It is high time the church in Africa and her leaders embraced this challenge of raising the ‘representative Christians’ for the 21st century global church. We should produce believers by whom the quality of Christianity will be judged; normative believers who are genuine disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is our lot to lead Christianity in today’s world, not by jostling for global recognition or positions, but by growing in our believers, the practical capacity for Christ-like lifestyles. And, the best means for attaining this goal is by rediscovering and pursuing the practice of life-transforming discipleship.
Pursuit of a Holistic Fulfilment of the Great Commission
The primary command of the great commission is to “make disciples of all the nations” (Mt 28:19). The three action steps or mandates for realizing this great goal are “go,” “baptizing them,” and “teaching them.” We have correctly interpreted “go” as a call to missions and evangelism. The command “baptizing them,” judging from Acts 2:41-42, relates to our church growth and church planting efforts. But “teaching them” has been overlooked to the point of making it an insignificant part of the great commission.
The question I have always asked is this.
“If we evangelize the whole world and win every soul to the church and to Christ; and, if we plant churches in every hamlet of the world; can it be said that we have fulfilled the Lord’s great commission? Will it be true that we have made “disciples of all the nations?”
Whatever anybody’s answer may be, the fact remains that until we give the command “teaching them” the right and best practicable interpretation, we would not have completed the great commission cycle. Until we appreciate the fact that Jesus’ command to ‘teach them’ is the spiritual depth-imbuing component of the great commission, we will be failing in raising true disciples for Him. We will not be able to raise Christians who will turn their immediate world around for Christ. Also, we will likely lack a reliable and sustainable workforce for tomorrow’s church.
It is obvious that our Lord Jesus did not mean ‘homiletics’ when He commanded the church to teach the converts. He meant teaching the way Himself and His early apostles did it. They taught to spiritually transform the lives of people. Teaching, for them, was a process of making disciples of Christ and for Christ.
The church has so far shied away from regarding “teaching them” as a mandate to engage in life-transforming discipleship. Most of the challenges facing the church in the 21st century have resulted from the prevailing condition of spiritual decline. These challenges will remain, until church leaders recognize the importance of teaching believers to grow spiritually and to become true witnesses of Christ in this world, as they are engaged in life-transforming discipleship.
Harmonizing the Concept of Discipleship
Discipleship has not been popular with some church leaders because its outcome is not easily quantifiable. Soul winning and church growth can be expressed in numbers, by which the efforts of men and organizations may be evaluated and rewarded. But it is not so with making disciples.
Also, leaders will not show deep interest in what they have not been well exposed to and prepared for. Many bible training institutions do not have discipleship as a character forming program. Where it is included on the curriculum, it is more for gaining credits. Some well-trained Christian leaders can speak intelligently on discipleship. But because they lack the practicable insight and skill for doing it, they may not emphasize or pursue it.
In addition to these is the challenge of the way people understand and do discipleship. Discipleship means different things to different people. A Christian leader’s concept of discipleship will inform what he will do in that name. This will in turn determine the outcome or product of his practice. Whatever the product of the discipleship program is, that is what will validate the concept.
The outcome of a discipleship effort may be mere improvement in bible knowledge. But it may also be an observable and acknowledgeable evidence of life-transformation in those who go through it. The value of a discipleship program, therefore, should not only be judged by the nature and quantity of the teaching materials and its related activities. It should particularly be by its life-transforming potential and impact.
The teaching style or discipleship of our Lord Jesus was transformational in its content and intent. This is where our discussions in this congress should draw its common focus.
It is our godly expectation, therefore, that as the various models are being presented, the Lord will open the eyes of our understanding to see a harmonized view of discipleship as He would want us to see it. He will guide us to perceive which model(s) will be best suited for improving the quality of believers’ lifestyle in our churches and denominations.
We prayerfully expect that the presentations in this congress will result in a synergy which will produce the impetus for a sustainable discipleship revolution in the churches of Africa and the world.
Initiating a Worthy Revolution
Let me announce to us, that something great is beginning to happen. With this congress, the Holy Spirit is initiating a transformational discipleship revolution in the churches of Africa and the world. There is going to be CHANGE in the way the church in Africa understands and does discipleship. Paradigms must shift, and practicable truth will start to grow and prevail. The church in other continents will eventually respond to the challenge of ACD 2017.
There is need, therefore, that this week, we should all assume a learning disposition. We should exhibit the highest possible levels of humility and love. There should be no room for conflicting with one another.
We should acknowledge that each model to be presented must have taken some years to develop. There could be those that may still be in the process of development. But, God is behind all of them. They are the responses of the espousers to a common burden regarding the spiritual state of the end time church, which actually is God’s heart burden for now.
We will be honoring God, therefore, and helping to advance life-transforming discipleship in Africa and globally, if we assess each presentation dispassionately. I encourage us to give our honest assessment on how scripturally reliable and relevant each model is, and how easy we think it will be to implement in our respective contexts.
We should join our hands and hearts together in facing this common challenge of life-transforming discipleship, and hope that by the end of this congress, God would have given us a breakthrough for our continent and the world.
There are inevitable challenges ahead.
It is our expectation that the outcome of this congress should be embraced by African heads of churches. It is their responsibility to initiate changes in the way their denominations run, and to determine what should be considered as being of primary importance.
Since March 2003, a group has been praying in my local church for a global revival of discipleship (GRD), every first Wednesday of each month. Since then we have maintained the hope that the Holy Spirit will eventually touch the hearts of these leaders to commit themselves and their denominations to the practice of life-transforming discipleship. We believe He will answer this prayer.
There is also the challenge of appreciating and sustaining the transformational discipleship revolution which is being initiated from this congress. Every participant should begin to consider this matter seriously. There will be an opportunity to contribute our views later this week.
A long time ago (1991), the Lord said to me: “Whenever the will of God is about to fulfill, Satanic opposition will invariably rise against it.” We should therefore not be ignorant of the devices of the enemy. Through faith and righteousness, and by the power which our heavenly Father has bestowed in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, we should always be very ready to crush all the enemy’s resistances. Life-transforming discipleship is a kingdom matter. Our adversary will want to fight it to a standstill. But God is committed to making it succeed. So should we also.
There may be other unseen challenges. But with our faith rested in the Almighty God, who is the author of this revolution, and with whom all things are possible, we are assured of success all the way.
In concluding, I think that we should count our individual selves as blessed for being part of this first African Congress on Discipleship. Despite the difficulties we may have encountered along the way, God still made it possible that we should be here. This is because He has a purpose for our lives which relates to the practice and propagation of life-transforming discipleship. We will surely receive special grace which will enable us to do much more than we had ever done before in this dimension of the great commission.
Please accept that you are a catalyst in this great revolution that is about to overtake the global church.
God willing, by the next time we meet, we shall have success stories to share.
Thank you, and enjoy this first and great African Congress on Discipleship.
The African Heads of Churches Summit, convened in Gomoa-Fetteh, Ghana, with the theme, “African Churches’ Response to the Critical Issues Facing Christian Witness in Africa and the World Today.” 1 Chronicles 12:32. There were about 105 participants from over 20 Church denominations in Africa.
The Goal of the Summit was to facilitate a platform/forum where strategic awareness was generated and action provoking QUESTIONS were raised, discussed and agreed upon by a catalytic group of African Church leaders on critical issues that present threats and opportunities for the African Church in fulfilling the Priestly, Prophetic and Apostolic (missionary) mandate of the Body of Christ in the continent and from the continent of Africa to the rest of the world in the 21st Century and beyond, if Christ tarries.
The Rationale for the Summit
The Critical Issues/Factors of Focus:
Outcomes of the Summit
2.0 OUR REFLECTIONS ON CRITICAL ISSUES
2.2 Internal Factors
3.0 OUR RESPONSE
3.1 External Factors
3.2 Internal Factors
4.0 OUR RESOLVE
We resolve that we will actively and lovingly:
age, tribe, sex/gender.
who will bring about transformation in our churches and nations including hosting national Heads of Churches Summit to follow up on the implementation of our resolutions.
As lofty as our resolutions are, we recognize that only in Christ will we succeed. The Great Commission is not only a command but a mandate and a promise. In His strength and by His grace, people from all nations and peoples will be reached with the goodnews of Jesus Christ. We strongly believe that the Great Commission carried out in the power of the HOLY SPIRIT through obedience to the Great Commandment, which is love, will lead to the Great Celebration, when people from every tribe, tongue and nation will enjoy the presence of the Lamb who is seated on the throne (Rev. 5:9).
Motion moved by Bishop Geofrey Chukwuneye (Nigeria)
Seconded by Bishop Mark Mariuki (Kenya)
 Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Church, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1995, pg 20
The Movement for African National Initiatives (MANI) is a network of networks (Movement) focused on catalyzing African National Initiatives and mobilizing the resources of the Body of Christ in Africa for the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
The Movement for African National Initiatives (MANI) emerges from a 40-year history of African national movements and given full expression during the AD 2000 AND BEYOND MOVEMENT era.
The history of National Initiatives in Africa dates to the 1960’s when many African nations gained independence. These indigenous initiatives started from the launching of saturation evangelism movements in Zaire and the central plateau of Nigeria in the mid 1960’s. Over the past fifty years, at least 37 African countries have launched National Initiatives to mobilize churches and ministries for national and global evangelization.
The Movement for African National Initiatives (MANI) was birthed when 320 delegates from 36 African nations met in Jerusalem for the African Millennial Consultation in March 2001. Building upon the legacy of the AD 2000 & Beyond Movement, these African leaders affirmed God’s powerful work across the continent and committed to accelerate the advance of the Gospel through networking and collaboration. This gathering shared the divine conviction that: Africa’s hour had come to take primary responsibility for the final gospel thrust in Africa and beyond; and the African Church was uniquely positioned to play a major role in world evangelization in the 21st century. The delegates determined to establish a continuing African movement recognizing that the AD 2000 and Beyond Movement which encouraged many nations in Africa to develop National Initiatives to mobilize national churches to respond to the Great Commission mandate was in the process of disbanding. Therefore, the Participants unanimously adopted the ‘Jerusalem Declaration,’ affirming their commitment to pick up the torch for national and global evangelization, as laid down by the AD 2000 and Beyond Movement.
MANI’s purpose is to affirm, motivate, mobilize and network Christian leaders (Churches) by inspiring them with the vision of reaching the unreached and least evangelized in Africa, and the wider world, through advocacy and support for National Initiatives, the communication of up to date research, reports and models; consultations and prayer efforts focusing on the unfinished task.
MANI encourages the mobilization of national churches and ministries in partnership with the wider body of Christ to:
THREE STREAMS OF CONVICTION FROM WHICH MANI FLOWS
MANI flows out of the conviction that: 1) The Church in Africa has a crucial role to play in the fulfillment of the Great Commission in the 21st century; 2) The Church in Africa has the ministry gifts, manpower, and material resources to complete this task in Africa and to make a significant contribution towards global evangelization; and 3) Through the focused deployment of the resources of the African Church, we can partner with the global church to achieve the target of “a church for every people and the gospel for every person” in the countries of Africa and the world.
As an indigenous movement, it is helping churches and ministries work together and linking strategic networks for the mobilization of the African Church. MANI has a working partnership with the Association of Evangelicals in Africa and serves to bridge the African Church with global networks and African Christians in the Diaspora. Members of the MANI Leadership Team relate closely with the WEA Missions Commission, the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, the Great Commission Roundtable, the Third World Missions Association and with global initiatives such as Joshua Project and Operation World.
The Two Main Planks for the Realization of the MANI Vision
Regional Coordinators, National Contact Persons/Advocates and the Ministry Network Coordinators are to work hand in hand to see that these two main planks of the MANI vision are pursued in every country and region with renewed zeal and commitment.
Avenues through which MANI carries out its facilitating and catalyzing functions
It is emphasized that every Ministry Network that is (or seeks to be) affiliated with MANI must have as its purpose of affiliation the realization of the MANI objectives as stated above (and consistent with the Expected Outcomes of the various consultations) which must be incorporated in their statement of purpose and articulated in their plans of action.
Strategic Consultations as avenues through which MANI carries out its Facilitating and Catalyzing Functions
Strategic Consultation is one of the primary engagements of MANI. Renewed vision, strategic plan and focused zeal for the fulfillment of the Great Commission is usually the result when Church leaders gather together, at an opportune time, sharing the right information without sentiments. Every five years MANI holds her Continental Consultation while other regional, ministry network, national or interest based consultations hold as and when necessary. The objective of every consultation is to celebrate what God is doing in, with and through the African Church in furthering His redemption plan among the peoples of the continent and the world, review past objectives, listen to God for fresh insights, leading and direction, to focus our energy on such directives during the intervening period before the next consultation comes up.
HISTORY OF THE MANI STRATEGIC CONSULTATIONS
In July 1997, 1,200 African leaders from 46 nations came together in a consultation on African National Initiatives at the GCOWE ’97 in South Africa. This consultation accelerated the birthing and development of structured African National Initiatives. This catalytic event led to the proliferation of new national movements, such as Finish the Task Kenya.
In March 2001, 320 delegates from 36 African nations met in Jerusalem for the African Millennial Consultation to celebrate and share the blessings of God in the evangelization of Africa over the years, and to consult together on the unfinished task in Africa and the world. This consultation gave birth to MANI, a strong continental awakening of Africa’s Kairos Moment.
MANI CAIM 2003 – Ibadan, Nigeria
In 2003, MANI convened a consultation on AFRICAN INDIGENOUS MISSIONS at which the various issues, models, structures and strategies of African indigenous efforts were articulated, shared and documented in a compendium with similar title.
MANI 2006 – Nairobi, Kenya
Two years later in 2006, the world watched as 520 leaders from 49 African nations gathered at MANI 2006 in Nairobi to pray, share best practices and assess the unfinished task in Africa. They celebrated the dynamic growth of the African Church and faced up to critical challenges. Commitments were made to advance national initiatives and to cooperate regionally to advance the Great Commission.
Nearly every African nation was represented by a delegation of high level leaders representing the major sections of the Body of Christ. The consultation created the platform to celebrate the vibrant growth of the African Church and to voice profound hope in the Lord’s intentions for the continent. The following years witnessed a continental harvest on the critical issues raised at the consultation: necessities of transformational discipleship, transformational leadership, united prayer, and empowerment of women for ministry, initiatives to tackle the social and economic challenges the Church and people of Africa are facing through holistic community transformation ministry interventions, taking more seriously the challenge of Islam, etc. Out from Nairobi 2006 was the challenge to clarify the task and refocus attention on reaching the remaining unreached peoples of Africa, hence the launching of the Country Assessment Process (CAP).
MANI 2011 – Abuja, Nigeria
In September 2011, a total of 614 participants from 60 countries gathered in Abuja Nigeria for the consultation of the Movement for African National Initiatives. This Consultation gave birth to Strategic Networks: Denominational Leaders, Emerging Leaders, African Women in Ministry, Strategic Prayer Network, etc, and many untold testimonies of post consultation engagements at local, regional and network levels. Through the CAP carried out in the past five years, it was discovered that an estimated 970 least–reached people groups in Africa do not yet have a viable indigenous Christian fellowship in their midst. The majority of these are in a belt stretching from Senegal in the West to Somalia in the East of the continent. Here, where Christianity of the South engages Islam of the North, the missionary task of the church is usually the hardest, and the greatest sacrifices are required. The African church is uniquely positioned to spread the sweet fragrance of Christ (2 Cor. 2:15) in these areas and to ensure the expansion of the Body of Christ to North Africa, where it once was so strong, and from there to the Middle East, Europe and beyond. We have heard God’s command to the African church to “Go North” and we commit ourselves to obey. We appreciate the hard work already done to gather data about unreached people and the most effective response of the church. More work is needed in this task and we are willing to assist in this important task of scouting the land (Num. 13) and exploring what needs to be done (Nehemiah 2). It was also decided by the Denominational Leaders Network to convene a Summit at which the African Church leaders will be encouraged to own and drive the last push of the African Church towards reaching the identified remaining least reached/unreached people groups in Africa.
MANI AHC SUMMIT 2016 – Accra, Ghana
The African Heads of Churches Summit, convened in Gomoa-Fetteh, Accra, Ghana, with the theme, “African Churches’ Response to the Critical Issues Facing Christian Witness in Africa and the World Today.” 1 Chronicles 12:32. There were about 105 from over 20 Church denominations in Africa. The Goal of the Summit was to facilitate a platform/forum where strategic awareness was generated and action provoking QUESTIONS were raised, discussed and agreed upon by a catalytic group of African Church leaders on critical issues that present threats and opportunities for the African Church in fulfilling the Priestly, Prophetic and Apostolic (missionary) mandate of the Body of Christ in the continent and from the continent of Africa to the rest of the world in the 21st Century and beyond, if Christ tarries.
MANI 2016 – ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA
MANI 2016 Continental Consultation is the 3rd of the post-Africa Millennial Consultation (AMC 2001) is aimed at ensuring that every effort in carrying out what we understand as the mission mandate of the African Church in the present context and realities of events in our continent and in the world, is being done according to the dictate and leading of the Holy Spirit, God’s Director of Missions, hence the theme chosen for this period. Five hundred and sixty (560) delegates from more than fifty (50) countries gathered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 7 to 11 March 2016 for the third consultation of the Movement for African National Initiatives (MANI). The consultation took place in the African Union Centre where heads of African states and their representatives meet to deal with issues affecting the African continent. Significantly, Ethiopia also represents Africa’s early and unbroken connection with the Gospel of Jesus Christ (e.g. Acts 8:27-39). As stated in the consultation theme, “Hearing and obeying God in times like these“, we placed ourselves alongside the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3 to hear what the Spirit of God is saying to his church in Africa regarding our mission in this world. The Addis Ababa Consultation was significant in several ways. Firstly, it was hosted by the oldest Church in the continent. Secondly, it was held on the premises of the African Union, the political seat of the Africa. Thirdly, we had participants from all the four continental geographical regions (North, South, East and West Africa), the Indian Ocean Islands and Africans in the Diaspora. Fourthly, there were fraternal delegates from Chinese, Asian, North & South American, and European Church who brought greetings and shared of the great doings of the Lord in their parts of the world and extended hand of fellowship and partnership to the African Church in these days of God’s power among the nations!
“We were reminded of the great need for the Gospel of Jesus Christ in North Africa, the Middle East and Europe, once the heart of Christendom. At the 2011 MANI consultation, we clearly heard God’s call to “Go North”. We rejoice over advances already made and hear again God’s mandate and invitation to increase our efforts and focus. As Ethiopia reminds us of Africa’s earliest response to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the faithful preservation of our faith throughout the centuries, we want to erect a spiritual memorial to declare that the Church in Africa will not rest until the whole world is filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14}.
From Addis to everywhere … until Jesus comes”.
CATALYZING AND STRENGTHENING AFRICAN NATIONAL INITIATIVES
An African National Initiative is a strategic, national process designed to mobilize the whole Body of Christ to complete the Great Commission within its borders and to send Africans in mission to the least-evangelized of the world. The goal is to see healthy churches transforming every community throughout a nation and beyond. United by common vision and solid information, national initiatives take a unique form in every country and assume a local name, such as Ghana Evangelism Committee (GEC), Nigeria Finish-The-Task Network (FINTASK); the World Evangelization Network of South Africa (WENSA), Finish the Task (Kenya-FTT), the Zimbabwe National Evangelism Task(ZIMNET), Swaziland Evangelism Task, the Disciple Namibia Movement, and continental/global networks such Transformation Africa/Global Day of Prayer, to mention but a few.
Nearly half of the countries in Southern Africa are engaged in some expression of a National Initiative. The first National Initiative in the region was launched in Zimbabwe in the early 1990s. Called “Target 2000”, this strategic partnership involved 60 denominations in an effort to plant 10,000 congregations in un-churched areas by the end of the decade. Intrigued by what was happening across their borders, Swaziland sent a group of leaders from 13 denominations to attend the Target 2000 national congress in 1992. Profoundly challenged, they returned home and helped the three major church associations to launch a partnership called the “Swaziland Evangelism Task.”
The AD2000 & Beyond Movement, and in particular the GCOWE 97, was used by God to light the fire of additional national movements across the region. The Namibia delegation was inspired to launch the Transformation Namibia movement, with significant strides made in networking church, business and government leaders. Building upon the foundation of the Love Southern Africa initiative, The Evangelical Alliance of South Africa helped to initiate the World Evangelization Network of South Africa (WENSA) which serves as a network of ministry streams within the country.
The Malawi National Initiative for Missions and Evangelism took initial steps following GCOWE 97 and the Copperbelt Survey began as a pilot project in Zambia in the years to follow. Lesotho has explored the initiation of a National Initiative and strong interest has been expressed in Botswana. The Portuguese-speaking countries of Africa converged at MANI 06 and voiced their commitment to encourage one another in the formation of national movements.
Each initiative is at a different stage of development. Several are vital and growing. Some are in the exploratory stage. Others may need revitalization. Yet all are expressive of the desire among many African leaders to mobilize the whole Body of Christ to fulfill the Great Commission within their nation and beyond.
NETWORKING FUNCTIONS OF MANI AND THE GUIDING PRINCIPLES
WHO COORDINATES MANI?
MANI is coordinated by a team consisting of a Continental Coordinator and Regional Coordinators. The Team seeks to facilitate the MANI vision at a continental level and works with National Coordinators, Regional and National Church and Missions leaders, Network Coordinators and Task Force leaders whose responsibilities are related to the following areas:
What Are the Roles of Continental and Regional Coordinators?
The role of the Continental and Regional Coordinators is to function together as a team:
What are the Selection Criteria for Regional and National Coordinators?
What are the Job Descriptions for Regional Coordinators?
What is the Job Description for National Coordinators?
HOW IS THE MOVEMENT TO BE FINANCED?
MANI is primarily a catalytic movement networking and operating through existing organizational structures. As such it is not a funding agency. It is not anticipated that MANI will establish itself with its own office and paid staff. Rather it is expected that those who serve as coordinators at continental, regional, national and ministry network levels will do so from and with the support of their existing ministry base.
HOW DOES THE MOVEMENT RELATE TO EXISTING STRUCTURES IN AFRICA?
MANI does not see itself as having a monopoly on the task of evangelization in Africa. Nor does it have the manpower, ministry-giftings and material resources for the completion of the task. These resources are to be found in the denominations, churches, ministries and mission agencies that make up the Body of Christ.
MANI is a movement committed to affirming and serving existing structures and ministries as a catalyst and network of networks for the mobilization of the Body of Christ in cooperative efforts to reach the least evangelized nationally, regionally and globally.
MANI’s commitment is to servant hood and cooperation with continental, regional and national structures, networks and ministries called to the Great Commission mandate.
TO WHICH GLOBAL STRUCTURES DOES MANI RELATE?
The members of the MANI Continental team have established relationships with (and involved in some of the following) the WEA Missions Commission, Third World Missions Association, Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, Joshua Project and the Association of Evangelicals in Africa. MANI also maintains fraternal relationship with other continental bodies such as COMIBAM, Asia Mission Association (AMA), while maintaining some form of working relationship with some global strategic ministry focus-networks (such as Ethne, Vision 5-9, IPC, NAP, Global MemberCare, etc,) through specific representations
It is anticipated that MANI will adopt the following documents related to the above bodies:
– Lausanne Covenant as MANI’s doctrinal statement.
– Joshua Project definitions and security standards
Note the above is extracted from MANI documents tabled and adopted at ‘MANI 2006’
MANI LEADERSHIP TEAM CONTACT ADDRESSES
ADMINISTRATIVE, ADVOCACY AND ADVISORY TEAM MEMBERS
THE DIASPORA REGIONS
THE HORN AND EAST AFRICA REGIONS
SOUTHERN AFRICA, PORTUGUESE SPEAKING AND THE INDIAN OCEAN ISLANDS REGIONS
ANGLOPHONE WEST AFRICA I & II REGIONS
FRANCOPHONE CENTRAL, WEST AFRICA & THE CONGOS REGIONS
STRATEGIC MINISTRY NETWORKS
Out of the great need for transformational discipleship on the continent, and as adopted in the MANI congress of March 2016 in Addis Ababa, African Senior Church and Para-Church leaders gathered from 1st – 5thMay 2017 at the Dimesse Sisters Retreat Center Karen, Nairobi.The aim of this important gathering was to deliberate on various discipleship models that could lead to a contagious transformational Christianity on the continent of Africa and beyond. The theme of the Congress was “Initiating a Transformational Discipleship Revolution in the Churches of Africa and the World”. The congress attracted 95 delegates of various denominations from 11 countries respectively:15 people from Ghana, 6 people from DR Congo, 8 people from Rwanda, 27 people from Kenya, 1 person from Zambia, 2 people from Tanzania, 2 people from Ethiopia, 28 people from Nigeria, 1 person from Malawi, 2 people from the United States of America, 3 people from the United Kingdom.
We want to deeply appreciate the warm welcome and hospitality accorded to the delegates of the Congress by the Dimesse Sisters. We commend the organizers under the coordination of Dr. Reuben Ezemadu and all the logistical support by our sister Jane. We also want to give special recognition and thanks to the leadership of the MANI Transformational Discipleship Track, Dr. U.& Dr. Mrs. Obed.
The Congress was marked by early morning Devotions, the Keynote address by Dr. Obed and paper presentations on discipleship models. With focus on pursuit of a holistic fulfillment of the great commission and harmonization of the concept of discipleship in his Keynote address, Dr. Obed set the tone of the congress. He emphasized that the Congress is to initiate a worthy revolution. The following discipleship models were subsequently presented:
The feeling at the congress was a desperate need to see God create a discipleship revolution through the African Church that would sweep the entire continent and send missionaries overseas. Engaging discussions in small table groups followed each presentation. The following 5 questions were used to guide the discussion in these break-up sessions.
It is our hope that when the final proceedings of the congress are released it will unleash an unstoppable discipleship revolutionthat our continent badly needs. There is a general call by the participants that all Church leaders will see the importance and urgency of Transformational Discipleship. They are urged to see how to adopt, adapt, and apply some of the Discipleship models irrespective of denominations
Also, to help raise Christ like disciples who will be agents of change, and provide the needed leadership to impact their society, communities and nations for Africa to realize its maximum potential.
Finally, we thank God who made this Congress possible and helped it to succeed tremendously. May His Kingdom come and His will be done.
Dr Reuben Ezemadu Dr U. Obed
African MANI Coordinator MANI ACD Coordinator
The Movement for African National Initiatives (MANI) recently drew together leaders from across Africa and around the world at two major events focused on the mobilization of the African Church for fulfillment of the Great Commission. MANI was launched in 2001 as a network of networks catalyzing African National Initiatives and mobilizing the resources of the Body of Christ in Africa for the fulfillment of the Great Commission. Its purpose is to affirm, motivate, mobilize and network Christian leaders by inspiring them with the vision of reaching the unreached and least-evangelized in Africa, and the wider world…Read more here
It is an evangelistic partnership within the Body of Chris in a given country or nation, drawing major denominations, local Churches and Christian ministries in such a country or nation together in a multi-pronged national strategy of renewal, church growth, discipleship and missions (church planting).
Such partnership harnesses the potentials of the Church in a given country and focuses such on bringing about transformation of lives and structures within the community
The Objective of A National Initiative
It encourages the determination of the potentials, opportunities and challenges the Church has in her context of witness and promotes self-determined approaches and strategies that will make the Church to bear an effective and authentic witness to Christ in that country or nation as such cooperative, indigenous efforts model unity of the Body of Christ and demonstrate ownership of the task of evangelization of the country.
The Benefits of A National Initiative
A National Initiative also helps to determine the frame work within which the Church in a given Country decides what kind of assistance or help it will receive from the wider Body of Christ to meet her genuine needs within her own context or what potentials she has to offer to other sections of the Body where her assistance might be needed. In other words, a National Initiative helps the Church to determine what she brings to or takes from the “Global Missions Basket”.
The Expected Outcome of A National Initiative
A National Initiative can focus on a specific issue, need, challenge or threat facing the Church or the nation within which the Church exists or a specific evangelization task of the Church. In other words, a cooperative response (i.e. a national initiative) can be organized around specific evangelization task or issues, needs, challenges as identified in a given context and the potentials of the church could be mobilized and targeted on such task, issues, needs, challenges and threats in such a way that meeting such needs in the concerted way establishes a strong witness of the grace and mercies of God in the affected community bringing into existence a body of transformed people worshipping God through our Lord, Jesus Christ and impacting their communities through their continued witness of the transforming power of the gospel.
The Scope of A National Initiative
The ultimate scope of a National Initiative is the whole country. As such, it is a “whole country strategy” of ‘The Whole Church taking the Whole Gospel to the Whole Man in the Whole Country’. However, it follows the concentric cycle of the Acts 1:8 commission: Jerusalem; All Judea, Samaria and Uttermost parts of the Earth. In other words, such cooperative evangelistic strategy can be organized by the Church of Christ in a given City, Region, State, Province and Nation where there is need for pioneer church-planting as well saturation church-planting efforts, extending beyond the local, cultural and national boundaries to the uttermost parts of the earth.
PRINCIPLES, PROCESSES AND PATTERNS OF THE EVOLUTION OF NATIONAL INITIATIVES
The Moses-Nehemiah Model
Some principles, processes and patterns of what we may call “National Initiatives” in our own context today can be seen from how God dealt with the issues and matters that confronted the nation and people of Israel throughout Bible records. We see these more in the example of Moses in the Deliverance and Leading of Children of Israel out of Egypt, as well as that of Nehemiah in Envisioning and Mobilizing of the People of Israel to Rebuild The Walls of Jerusalem. It is clear therefore that whenever God wants to do something very specific about His plans for a people, a nation or His Church, He starts with an individual or a group of individuals with whom He shares His plan, envisions such and infuses His passion and burden into such ones thereby enlisting them into His team for meeting such needs.
The history of the evolution of the African National Initiatives indicates similar principles, processes and patterns. The story also started usually with an individual or a team of visionary leaders, hearing from God or discerning the ‘kairos’ moments, or perceiving needs or threats facing the Church in a given country, researching more on such revelations, envisioning and creating awareness of such critical needs of the time and highlighting potentials of the Church to take advantage of such challenges and opportunities for growth and improvement.
From Moses and Nehemiah, we deduce the following principles, process and patterns of the evolution of National Initiatives which result in accomplishing the goal of National Initiatives (Nehemiah 6:15) ‘with the help of our God’ (Nehemiah 6:16).
1: Catching the Vision (Nehemiah 1)
2: Clarifying the Vision (Habakkuk 2:2) Nehemiah 2:11-17
3: Casting (Sharing) the Vision (Nehemiah 2)
4: Mobilizing, recruiting and strategically deploying resource-people and materials (Nehemiah 3)
5: Managing the process to maintain unity, common focus and minimize distractions and discouragement (Nehemiah 4) –WATCH, PRAY AND WORK
DEVELOPING A NATIONAL INITIATIVE
Stage 1: VISION CASTING AND COMMENCEMENT OF A NATIONAL INITIATIVE
Stage 2: MONITORING AND EVALUATION OF ON-GOING INITIATIVES
Stage 3: COMPLETION AND CELEBRATION OF THE PROCESS
Continental Coordinator; Movement for African National Initiatives (MANI)
We have, at the moment, the challenge before us in MANI of finding successors for the current corps of leadership and developing the next generation of leaders in MANI. The current and past leaders have taken MANI to whole new level of operation and influence and now we face the challenge of finding leaders who can pick up from where they are leaving (or have left) off and build to a new level.
We sense that Great Commission leaders are not so common these days; leaders ready to think outside the box and pioneer innovative developments. But this is in itself a good reason why we must believe for such successors. A dynamic movement can become a monument for want of visionary leadership. That is the more reason to deliberately search for or develop such leaders for MANI to remain a cutting edge movement.
MANI for its own survival and justifiable existence requires leaders who have been prepared by God for the task; people who understand the Great Commission mandate and hold a strong conviction and dare to believe that it ‘can be done and will be done’ in their life time through the mobilization of the nation’s churches and ministries
In MANI we need leaders able to visualize the day when nations will be saturated with healthy community transforming churches committed to global evangelization. Only leaders with clear vision and a strong faith in God’s purposes can give direction and develop strategies that will see all churches and ministries renewed spiritually, reformed structurally and engaging in revolutionary evangelism and mission that will reach the least- reached.
In addition to being forward looking visionaries with a strong faith and sense of call, we need leaders who have a servant-heart and the ability to listen to and work with leaders of all churches and ministries – even those who might disagree with them.
MANI leaders must be ready and able to give a total commitment to serving the process of national initiative development; that they should not be expected to lead the process while holding another demanding position or be responsible for multiple activities. Such people can never give the focus, time and creative energy required to develop a pioneering movement for a whole nation. Of course this has a lot of implication for the support and funding of leaders in such full time capacity. We should therefore pray and seek for such leaders who have an understanding of a divine calling and mandate to serve in such capacities and/or a base that will release and support them to solely pursue such assignments in such capacities.