Research indicate that although the Christian Church in Africa is experiencing an unprecedented period of growth and expansion, there are still just over 1 300 unreached people groups on the continent (“unreached”: less than 50% of the population has yet heard the Gospel once).
At this point in time, although numerous missionaries, churches and organizations from all over the world are glorifying Go by the great work they’re doing to take the Gospel to Africa’s unreached, we at Philadelphia believe that they key in reaching the continent’s unreached lies in mobilizing the local Church.
Philadelphia and its partners and co-workers have been involved in evangelism in several African countries since 1994.
Mobilizing local believers
The Church in Africa has a tremendous and largely untapped potential for reaching the unreached world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For this reason, the main emphasis in Philadelphia’s evangelism strategy is to train, motivate and mobilize local believers and churches into reaching out to those who do not know Christ yet (see article: “Training Strategy”).
LEFT: Church leaders attending a seminar on World Evangelism at the VIBITAC Bible School in Kande, Malawi.
The basic strategy in mobilizing local believers is to follow three logical steps.
Firstly, church leaders and their members are continuously encouraged and motivated to become involved in evangelism. This is done on an informal level during normal interaction, but also on a more formal level as part of the Leadership Training Program, seminars and workshops. Emphasis is always on the Biblical command and mandate for Christians to share the Gospel (in word and deed) with those who do not know Christ.
The next and sometimes simultaneous step is to equip and train believers for their task of evangelism. This can be in the form of a seminar, workshop, short course or even as part of Mobile Training Program.
Thirdly, Philadelphia tries to create regular opportunities for our students and other believers to take part in evangelism ventures.
For instance, students are given practical experience in ministry during crusades which are launched in their area as part of their training. At the same time, local churches are invited to participate in these crusades, particularly with the follow-up of new believers.
In the process, they not only learn the practicalities and different methods and approaches that can be followed to share the Gospel, but they also experience the practical benefit of Church-growth and expansion.
Courses such as the Evangelism Explosion III training program offers a combination of theoretical knowledge and practical training. Many people have come to know Christ after hearing the Gospel during a practical training presentation, while believers undergoing the training experience the blessing and even excitement of leading someone to Christ!
LEFT: People in a remote village on Madagascar’s east coast hears the Gospel for the first time during an outreach.
Short-term outreaches are evangelical projects ranging from a few days up to three months undertaken by groups of Christian volunteers. The aim of these outreaches is to support the full-time work in the mission field and at the same time give home-base Christians the opportunity to minister cross-culturally.
Although activities vary depending on the need at a specific time and place, the emphasis usually falls on evangelism. Combined teams from different nationalities and denominations share the Gospel by ways of a combination of various conventional and creative methods. These may include preaching, street evangelism, child evangelism, tract distribution, door-to-door evangelism, praying for the sick, film-shows, drama’s and mimes, personal testimonies and sport tournaments.
Follow-up and Church planting
LEFT: A Student taking the names and contact-detail of new believers during a “Gospel Volleyball Tournament” in Nkhata Bay, Malawi.
At Philadelphia, we have often seen the very negative results of evangelism crusades and outreaches (often much-publicized in Christian media) where proper follow-up and long-term discipleship was neglected.
Where these mostly well-intended ventures have the positive short-term result of people reacting on invitations to repent and “accept Christ”, the long-term outcome is often a completely different picture. The problem is that the local churches (if they exist in the area) are often not trained and equipped to care for and nurture newborn spiritual “babies” so that they may grow to spiritual maturity. They (the new believers) are then left to largely fend for themselves, which leads to many falling back into their old lifestyles while others gets mislead by false teachings and pseudo-Christian movements.
Although we have also had our failures in this regard, Philadelphia strives to always take “long-term responsibility” for new believers, even if they come to Christ during a short-term outreach. In practice, this means putting people in place or training people that will be able to care for new believers over the long term. In some cases, we have had to refrain from invitations to do evangelism in an area because of our inability to provide long-term care in that area.
Because the Philadelphia Project is an inter-denominational ministry serving the Church, our approach to Church planting is that of assisting denominations rather than doing our own church planting. This often means identifying a leader or leaders for a prospective church in a new area, sometimes training the leaders first, and then helping them by ways of evangelism crusades, further training of new believers, etc..
|Getting as exited as we are? See, Philadelphia has full-time teams in several African countries, but we also rely strongly on volunteers to become involved by contributing their prayers, time, energy and finances. So why don’t you do something about it right now? Alternatively, you can first read about our projects in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Madagascar, get some more facts on Africa, read about the history of the Cross in Africa or just share your thoughts with us?|
|Want to become part of this exciting venture? Why don’t you do something about it right now?|
|“Mission Impossible” – that would be the much
talked-about secular African Renaissance
without Jesus Christ!
|PRETORIA HEAD OFFICE CONTACT DETAILS:|
|TEL: + 27 (12) 567-6512
CELL: + 27 82 925 4125
|P.O. Box 14137, Sinoville (South Africa) 0129