Mission Africa was birthed out of the desire of leaders in Cape Town discussing the possibility of hosting the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization. The desire to host this Congress was very strong, as was the aspiration to use the momentum of the Congress to be actively engaged in evangelism.
Leaders discussed the model Billy Graham set in the original 1974 Congress to hold an evangelistic crusade prior to the Congress. The Cape Town discussion grew in excitement to attempt to host the Congress and have an evangelistic mission throughout Africa.
Once Cape Town was chosen for the site of the Congress, Michael Cassidy, founder of African Enterprise, became chair of the Cape Town 2010 mission committee and the planning was underway.
The concept of ministry partnership was foundational. Under Cassidy’s leadership, Songe Chibambo, Pan African director for African Enterprise, and I (Scott Lenning, executive director for the U.S.-based Scott Dawson Evangelistic Association) became co-directors. Shortly thereafter, Eliot Winks of Christ Awakening joined the leadership team. We worked with Cape Town 2010 Congress director Blair Carlson for the next two years.
Cassidy’s desire was to do “matchmaking” between ministries from around the world. Chibambo and I quickly developed a working relationship that was designed to model the power of partnership to the ministries that would become actively engaged in Mission Africa.
Chibambo worked within known networks across Africa to discover host ministries and communities for missions. I began building a network of international evangelists who would travel to Africa to be ministry partners with local host ministries. An evangelist “profile” was developed to make sure participating ministries worked together in the practice and theology of the original Lausanne Covenant.
Cassidy also discouraged any attempt to micromanage the individual missions. A preparation guide was developed to give ministry partners an outline of steps to take to conduct an event with the highest possible impact in a community for Christ. The guide was based on two hands, a spiritual hand and a physical hand, working together to prepare for the mission.
The fingers on the spiritual hand included prayer, friendship evangelism, counselor training, and program and long-term follow-up throughout churches. The physical hand included organizational committees, promotions, fund raising, facility arrangements, and volunteers. Even this visual illustration of two hands working together represented the future partnerships that would be necessary to make Mission Africa a reality.
After two years of work and communication between emerging partner ministry teams, the first mission took place 1-7 March 2010 in Via Town, Liberia. Over the next six months, twenty-one Mission Africa events took place. Each event was a culmination of the partnerships between ministries from around the world working together.
Teams worked together from Ethiopia and New Zealand, Kenya and the USA, Rwanda and Kenya, Australia and South Africa, Germany and Tanzania, the USA and Zimbabwe.
The Lord blessed these partnerships and the other fifteen teams with a total estimated attendance of 488,394, and 58,243 individuals making commitments to Christ!
Ecclesiastes 4:12 states, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Early in the Mission Africa preparation process, we adopted a saying: “Attempt something so big for God, that it is doomed to failure unless God be in it.” The three-strand cord that made Mission Africa have such a strong impact for Christ was between two ministries and the Lord. That is truly a partnership which cannot be broken.
Reporting the Mission Africa story at Cape Town 2010 created a buzz of excitement…not simply about the missions that had just concluded, but of the model of partnership that inspired individuals to want to join and be part of it in the months and years ahead.
The power of partnerships is a must for the days ahead. No longer can we operate as “Lone Rangers”; we must work together to reach this world for Christ. Pray for Mission Africa Stage 2 that is in the early phase of development. Pray that the Lord would direct these future ministry partnerships into effective ministry models for years to come.
In this issue of Lausanne World Pulse, you will read about several of the partnerships that resulted in thousands of people coming to Christ.