Reaching the Final Frontiers in Africa
October 3, 2013
Christian Aid assists the work of missionaries and church planters in 40 African nations. An estimated 800 people groups have not been reached with the good news of Jesus Christ.
Can we reach all of Africa’s unreached peoples with the gospel in our generation?
That was one of the questions posed at the 2013 Global Missions Consultation held Sept. 25-28 in Kasoa, Ghana. Encouraged by the opportunity to listen and learn from one another, the event brought together over 400 indigenous missions leaders from 40 countries in Africa, as well as international missions representatives from Asia, Europe, and the United States.
This year’s theme was “Discipling the Nations,” with a special emphasis on the context of missions in Africa. Topics included “Reaching Africa’s Unengaged People Groups,” “Discipling Great Commission Christians,” and “The Challenge of Islam in Africa.”
Building on the excitement sparked by the 2010 Global Missions Consultation held in Tokyo, Japan, African missionary leaders were eager to bring a follow-up conference infused with the same energy and vision to their continent.
Gabriel Barau, a key ministry partner of Christian Aid Mission for nearly three decades, presided over the conference. Barau serves as chairman of the Nigeria Evangelical Missions Association and is the founder and director of one of the largest mission agencies in Nigeria.
Also in attendance were representatives from the Africa Missions Association, Third World Missions Association, the Global Network of Mission Structures, MissioNexus, the Asia Missions Association, the U.S. Center for World Mission, and Christian Aid Mission.
In rural villages, Bible studies and evangelistic meetings are often held outdoors.
Delegates developed strategic plans for evangelism and discipleship throughout every region of Africa. A top priority is the goal to establish a witness for Christ among the continent’s 800 unreached people groups.
During a time of prayer, several African ministry leaders broke down in tears, deeply burdened that they had not done enough to reach the unreached in their own nations.
“They made the commitment to reach and engage the remaining people groups using all the tools and methods available,” said Raul Hernandez, the director of Development and Church Relations for Christian Aid Mission and one of the speakers at the conference. “Each missions group from the 40 African countries represented at the consultation also pledged to mobilize the church in a more in-depth discipleship movement.”
A New Emphasis on Native Missions
The 2010 Global Missions Consultation in Tokyo proved groundbreaking in that the conference was primarily organized, funded, and led by indigenous missions agencies.
That’s a significant shift in thinking from a century ago, when the international missions community gathered for its first consultation in Edinburgh, Scotland. At the 1910 conference only foreign missionary groups were present.
When the next global consultation was held 70 years later in Edinburgh, there was a noticeable change. Some 30 percent of the delegates were indigenous missionary leaders. That figure more than doubled at Tokyo 2010, as over 65 percent of the delegates represented non-Western missions organizations.
Gabriel Barau demonstrates the latest technology for communicating the gospel—an "audio Bible."
At last week’s Ghana Consultation, more than 90 percent of the attendees were ministry leaders and missionaries from missions agencies in Africa. The majority of the speakers and workshop facilitators were also indigenous missionary leaders.
Hernandez was especially encouraged to hear leaders of both foreign and indigenous missions organizations agree that native missionaries are the most efficient and effective army to reach the unreached with the gospel.
As “neighbors” to these unreached peoples, native gospel workers already know the language and culture. They can also access areas where foreign missionaries would not be welcomed.
According to one estimate, approximately 95 percent of the work done among unreached people groups today is carried out by indigenous missionaries.
The Next Step
Barau presented attendees with a final statement of challenge as they seek to fulfill the Great Commission and disciple all nations in Africa and beyond.
Each delegate was encouraged to find two other accountability partners who would commit to correspond with them and in one year’s time see how they followed through on their response to the challenge.
Major objectives/challenges of the consultation included:
- A greater awareness of what is involved in discipleship and discipling nations
- A greater awareness of Great Commission priorities, with a focus on the remaining 800 unengaged, unreached people groups in Africa
- The formation of national discipleship research councils, which will carry on the work of the consultation beyond Ghana 2013
- The facilitation of new partnerships and initiatives in seeing transformation come to the major spheres of society in every nation
- A commitment to discipling a new generation of leaders
- A commitment to seeing discipleship-making movements among all the remaining unreached peoples of Africa and beyond
- A united challenge from the Consultation to the global church to prioritize disciple-making at every level and to raise up every believer to full participation in the Great Commission
“Overall, by the number of indigenous leaders who participated, by their engagement and excitement in continuing to do what God has called them to do, by their organization as a team of more than 400 indigenous missionary organizations, and by the partnerships we are starting to develop, Ghana 2013 was a success and will bring glory to the Lord,” said Hernandez.
The next Global Consultation will take place in Lima, Peru, in October 2014, with the theme “Responding to the Challenge of Islam.” More than 1,000 international missions leaders are expected to attend the event.
- For new doors of ministry to open among previously unreached or unengaged people groups in Africa
- That those who attended the conference will be encouraged and further equipped to fulfill the Great Commission
- For persecuted believers in Nigeria, Mali, Sudan, and other countries in Africa