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Posts Tagged ‘African Missions’

Examples of Christian Charities Working in Africa

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

It goes without saying: Africa is a large and diverse continent. It is also a poor continent and faces a whole range of struggles, from political issues to health problems, poverty, famine and natural disasters. Tackling these sorts of issues is always challenging, but Christian charities have been dedicatedly working in Africa for many decades.

There is a long history of Christian charities working in specific African countries on many different issues. If we tried to list them all, we’d probably never finish. However, looking at a few examples can give us a better idea of the range of work that goes on and the kinds of organisations that get involved.

Tearfund

Tearfund is a Christian charity that was set up in the 1960s following the famine in Biafra. This was a tense time in the region; the civil war in Nigeria was what led to the famine and it was so severe, this organisation was born. Since then, the group has worked in lots of different African countries to help difficult situations such as famines and droughts, as well as supporting development. These countries have included Somalia, Ethiopia and Rwanda.
Christian AidThis is probably one of the most famous Christian charities working in Africa. Christian Aid has a focus on issues such as HIV/Aids, malaria, climate change, dealing with conflict, trade and human rights. It works in countries right across the continent, including working to end sexual violence in the DRC and engaging in issues in Sudan.

Rainbow Africa

This is a charity that works primarily in Zambia. It works in areas where there are very high levels of poverty with the aim of providing education to children and other support that can aid development. The organisation also has a focus on healthcare, which is of utmost importance in poor, impoverished areas.

World Vision

Children are often some of those most affected by problems in Africa and so supporting them in any way possible is of utmost importance. This is one of the aims of World Vision – actions include running campaigns to encourage people to sponsor a child in Africa so that they can receive support for their ambitions. Other projects include addressing the causes of poverty and working on disaster relief projects.

Overall, Christian charities from all over the world have a vital role to play in supporting Africa and its people. No single organisation can fix the issues alone, and these charities often work on very different issues in very different areas – but they all have one thing in common: their Christian ethos means that they are dedicated to working against all odds to help people in any way they can and they are all thoroughly committed to working together to achieve positive results.

Guest Post on behalf of World Vision UK. If you would like to support a child through the food crisis, why not sponsor a child in Niger?

How Many Christians Does it Take to Send a Missionary?

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

How Many Christians Does it Take to Send a Missionary?

How many Christians does it take to send a missionary? None, of course. The Lord sends them. There is no disputing that fact. He raises up all the leaders that His church needs to “to prepare His people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph. 4:12,13)



A lot of what God does is mysterious, even unexplainable. This is especially true concerning the way He calls and sends missionaries. It does not seem to me that He raises them up though any standard, common or preferred channels from one generation to the next. He delivers their support, both financial and spiritual, from some of the most unexpected sources – so unexpected that that I often miss seeing them. At times His movement is brought into sharper focus, for me, through research data. Such clarity came to me recently when I was invited by Missions Resource Network to attend The State of the Gospel 2009 a Mission Exchange webinar presented by Jason Mandryk.



Among the wealth of data that Mandryk presented was a set of facts that changed the way I perceive what the Lord is doing among churches in the Majority World. You may be unfamiliar with the term ‘Majority World’, but more familiar with the terms ‘third world’, ‘developing countries’, or ‘poorer nations’. The designation Majority World refers to those same people, but highlights the reality that the majority of humankind lives in these countries.



Mandryk revealed that currently it takes far fewer Christians in the majority world to send out a missionary than it takes for Christians in richer countries to send one out. According to Mandryk’s data, it takes one thousand Canadian Christians to send out a missionary, close to double that many in the United States, and 3,500 in the UK. Among the Churches of Christ, the fellowship I belong to, it takes 2,200 USA members to send out a missionary couple or a single. In parts of the majority world the picture is quite different. It takes 222 Mongolian Christians to sent out a missionary and four hundred Singaporeans to do the same. In the much poorer African countries of Niger and Mali it takes 451 and 608 respectively. Spain is the only non-majority world country ranking in the top ten countries when it comes to membership/missionaries sent ratio. Other countries in the top ten are Lebanon, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Faeroe Islands, and Thailand. This data was collected from Protestant, Anglican, and independent churches and includes only countries where Christians have sent out fifty or more missionaries.




Why such a disparity between majority world churches and the resource flush churches of the west? There may not be any clear answer, but one can deduce some likely realities. (1) Churches do not have to be wealthy to send out missionaries. People in Nepal, Niger, and Mali rank among the poorest of poor, yet they support missionaries. (2) Very small congregations can be extremely missional in outlook and actions. Of course there are large congregations in Singapore and Thailand, but small groups of believers typical to countries like Mongolia, Niger, and Mali seem to understand that the Lord wants them to reach out across cultural barriers and plant churches. It does not take a mega church to send missionaries. (3) Young, evangelical congregations, where most of the members are first or second generation believers, have missions in their very DNA. For them, sending out missionaries is normal and doable.



In an article titled Costa Rica: Sending Missionaries to Africa the Christian World News reported that a congregation of one hundred in one of San Jose’s poorest neighborhoods uses eighty percent of its income to train and support their own members to be church planters in Africa. Read the amazing story of how these poor Christians have started a bakery and an auto repair business to support their missionaries. “With the Bible in one hand and tools in the other, future missionaries work hard to maintain their companions in Africa.” In the past eight years, this congregation has sent out 21 missionaries. Make no mistake these are true missionaries – they learn the language and culture of the Senegalese and Malians they minister among. God has blessed them.



Then there is the story of, Philippe and Ruth Sagara, who are missionaries to the Bozo people of Mali. In the early 1990s the Sagara were the first Malians sent out as cross-cultural missionaries by their brothers and sisters in the Gospel Missionary Union. God blessed their efforts and before the year 2000 had arrived, nine other couples were sent out by this Malian denomination. The fact that they are Malian has not sheltered them from the adjustment struggles common to all cross-cultural missionaries. In some cases “the temptation is not to put a priority on language learning,” and settle for using a trade language like Bambara. But, the time and effort put in mother-tongue language learning has paid great church growth dividends. Today, some of the more experienced Malian missionaries train and counsel Western missionaries who continue to arrive to labor along side them.




Some might say these case studies and data only points out the obvious – it cost less to send missionaries from the majority world than those from richer nations. That may be true, but it has very little to do with the results revealed in this data. Western Christians send western missionaries at western support levels. The majority world Christians make similar financial sacrifices to send their brothers and sisters out at majority world support levels.



It would be a misuse of this data for Christians of richer nations to justify a scaling back of the number of Western missionaries they send out and redirect their funds to sponsoring majority world missionaries who can be sent for less. What this data shows is that Majority World Christians have taken seriously the task of sending their own to the unreached. For western Christians, agencies, and churches to step in and take over what these sacrificial Christians are already doing well would be counter productive. Why take from them what God is already allowing them to do on their own? Western Christians may need to view what their Majority World brethren are doing as an example or model of what they ought to be about. In these times it seems God is using Christians in what used to be considered ‘the mission field’ to set the pace for the ‘historically Christian nations.’



I am convinced that this shift has little to do with any recent strategy adjustments. For it is evident that God is, in many cases, using those who have very little understanding of strategic matters. They simply have a healthy understanding of what He has done and is doing among them. They are grateful and prayerful. They trust in His promises and move out in faith, expecting Him to be faithful, not based upon what they do, but upon who He is.



What is ahead in this new era of missions? What else will the Western church learn from their Majority World brethren? I am not sure. What I do know is – this is an exciting time I are living in. Thank you Lord for allow me to to witness it.

The Use of Christian Money and Personnel Among the Unreached People Groups and Bibleless People Groups

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

I am often defensive when the topic of money, and how I how I ought to spend it, is being preached at me. So I am well aware that discussing money and missions can be a sensitive subject, especially during the current, world-wide financial turmoil. It is not my intention to make any individual, congregation or agency feel guilty about their allocation of funds or personnel. Guilt may be a strong motivator in the world, but it has no place in Christian discourse unless it is to point to God’s grace to alleviate it. My sense is that outside of a small circle of informed Christians, most of us are unaware of the disparity between the resources spent on the reached and those spent on the unreached and Bibleless people groups of the world. Armed with knowledge of the reality of this situation, I believe we will begin to realign our mission monies and personnel.


So, I offer some pertinent facts. In 2004, according to Mission Frontiers, Christians gave about two hundred and thirteen billion dollars to Christian endeavors, including their local congregation. $213,000,000,000. Wow! That is a lot of zeros (yet it amounts to less than two percent of their earned income). Of that amount, only 11.4 billion dollars, or 5.4%, went to foreign missions. The bulk of that mission money, 87%, was allocated to mission work among those people groups that have already been reached. Ministries to the unreached made do with the remaining 13%. The bottom line is that only .000918% of all funds contributed to Christian causes (that’s nine cents out of every one hundred dollars) went to works concentrating on unreached people groups.


I recently discovered a great tool for showing this disparity. Rev. Shari Hobby, Co-Director Ethne, has developed a tool to “visually and experientially” impress a congregation or small group with the reality of the number of unreached peoples and the paucity of resources concentrated on them. The tool consists of a set of note cards that can be marked and distributed to among any gathering. You can find the procedure for marking the cards in Rev. Shari’s paper, DEVELOPING A PERSPECTIVE OF WORLD MISSION. I encourage you to use the tool.


Another recent discovery for me was an outstanding student developed and maintained website by the name of The Traveling Team with the purpose “to glorify God by educating and equipping college students to become World Christians who fulfill their responsibility in World Evangelization.” In Lesson 4 of their resources they point out that only 4% of foreign missions work force is working to reach unreached people groups. The other 96% labor among the reached.


On the first of this month, (Nov. 2008), the World Evangelical Alliance General Assembly concluded in Pattaya, Thailand. They adopted six resolutions, one of which concerned the worldwide financial crisis. “While we hope that the painful consequences of the turmoil will be mitigated, our concern is that its impact will continue to permeate into more regions and economies of the world. We recognize that this economic crisis will have the most painful impact on the poor, who are the most vulnerable.” The resolution went on to call on Christians to care for the poor during the crisis and live simply and generously.


While trusting in the Lord to provide for the unreached people groups of the world, I must be honest that I wonder if efforts directed toward them might suffer greatly. Join with me in prayer that the unreached people groups and those working among them may truly experience the presence of the Lord in their lives and that their lives may be changed on this earth and the one to come. What are you seeing or foreseeing concerning the impact of the world financial crisis on the unreached people groups and missions working among them?