A Missions Model for All Nations
Making disciples for the Nations with support from Christian Aid
March 21, 2012
By Rae Burnett
Africa Director, Christian Aid Mission
From the beginning Suleman understood the importance of raising up a generation of children who know the Lord. In 1999 Christian Aid provided funds for a residential center. Regular monthly support for food, clothing, medications, and education is desperately needed.
In missions, the essential thing by far is the man and the vision. Next is the finance needed to accomplish that vision. Until 1996, when Rae Burnett, Africa Director for Christian Aid, first went to this West African secular-Islamic country, Brother Suleman, founder of an independent indigenous missionary ministry, had no support. Since then, help from Christian Aid has enabled the work to grow from two missionaries to 110 full-time and 40 part-time workers on 23 mission fields; from caring for one to 130 children, plus many who have graduated and gone on to serve the Lord; and from one to 48 church/cell groups.
Gifts from Christian Aid enabled the ministry to build an orphanage with five home-style dormitories; a small primary school so children are not taught in Islamic schools; and a solid wall providing protection and nurture for the orphans. Children from the Life Center are shown here singing to attract villagers who will then hear the gospel from ministry missionaries.
Suleman is committed to seeing that the Lord’s purpose is fulﬁlled in every believer’s life, and that takes discipleship. Classes begin immediately after conversion and before baptism and continue as part of church life.
Most of the ministry’s village missionaries have no transportation so they load up on a horse cart. They travel for many hours, sometimes days, into remote areas to take the gospel where it has never been heard. Motorcycles ($1000) and 4-wheel drive vehicles ($18,000) are needed for workers on the 15 mission ﬁelds.
With Christian Aid support, the ministry has built a Life Center for orphans and persecuted believers; an agricultural project; a School of Missions; and a primary school. Gifts from Christian Aid have supplied wells, cars, motorcycles, bicycles, and horses, as well as regular support for workers and projects.
Hundreds have come to the Lord and been discipled, resulting in churches planted throughout the nation as well as many other African nations. Christian Aid has also provided funds for a Discipleship Training School started by one of Suleman’s disciples which produces 50 graduates per year.
The ministry is now praying for funds for a gathering place for believers. There is presently no large meeting place available in the country that is not owned by Muslims.
Suleman began his missionary work in 1986. Even though statistics stated only .01% Christians in that secular Islamic nation, he soon discovered that even this minute number included nominal Christians, which is to say, not believers at all. And these few were primarily foreigners, mostly “missionaries” comfortably ensconced in the capital city where they met together in foreign churches. Although they had been there for more than 130 years, they had not produced one single indigenous believer who was leading his own ministry.
Burning with zeal to see the Lord’s name established in his country, Suleman prayed for a strategy to affect the entire nation. When I met him in 1996, he had planted a living church of 65 serious disciples, committed to reaching the nation with the gospel. Their meetings were held in Suleman’s small rented apartment far from the capital.
Christian Aid founder Bob Finley revolutionized missions when he began International Students Inc. in 1953. Following the same biblical principles, this ministry is enormously impacting the African continent. The country’s capital is an international city with businessmen, refugees, students, and visitors from most African nations. Ministry missionaries reach out to them as well as to local city-dwellers, bringing many to the Lord and discipling them intensely.
This ministry never plants or controls ministries in other countries, but Suleman encourages them to return as missionaries to their own countries, independent of foreign control. Many of them attend ASOM, and in many cases, Christian Aid makes their work known for support.
After years of praying and trying to raise the funds needed, Christian Aid was ﬁnally able to provide the ministry with funds to build an Africa School of Missions (ASOM). In just four years, Christian Aid has funded training for 200+ native missionaries from 19 African countries. Classes are taught, and students are mentored, by experienced African leaders and ﬁeld missionaries.
Word of the tremendous effect in the lives of so many has resulted in requests for help with discipleship throughout the country, and there are now training sessions in eight regions. Many of the foreigners who return home also implement this method of evangelism, discipleship, and indigenous ministry. The effect of this mission work in the continent of Africa cannot be underestimated.
What Ray has seen throughout Africa has convinced her that this training, specifically by and for African indigenous missionaries, exponentially increases worker effectiveness, and Christian Aid is 100% behind every endeavor of ASOM. Future plans include missionary training schools all over the continent. This is increasingly important as Islamic terrorism is becoming more and more dangerous to Christian ministries throughout Africa.