MANI Southern Africa 2008 Consultation: “Working Together to Finish the Task”

In February 2008, official delegations from thirteen nations in southern and Portuguese-speaking Africa converged in Johannesburg, South Africa, for the MANI SA 08 Consultation. This was a unique moment for the Church in Africa as three hundred leaders of national, regional, and global influence gathered to discuss the next steps involved in completing the Great Commission.

  

United by the theme, “Working Together to Finish the Task,” MANI SA 08 encouraged leaders from nearly two hundred denominations and organizations to celebrate the advance of God's kingdom across the region and to assess the status of the remaining task.

Leaders were inspired to prayerfully and creatively envision the day when…

  • life-giving churches express the love of Jesus in every African community and among every kind of people
  • Christians from all backgrounds join hands to pray and live out the good news within their communities and nations
  • thousands of Africans are sent around the world as bearers of hope for the least-evangelized peoples of the world

MANI: An African Movement
The Movement for African National Initiatives (MANI) is a grassroots African movement committed to catalyzing the Body of Christ in Africa to work in strategic partnership to disciple the nations and to send Africans in mission around the world.

MANI emerges from a 40-year history of African national movements. Building upon this legacy, in 2001 leaders from thirty-six African countries gathered at the Africa Millennial Consultation in Jerusalem. They affirmed God’s powerful work across the continent and committed to accelerate the advance of the gospel through networking and collaboration. This gathering gave birth to a continental network called the Movement for African National Initiatives.

Five years later, the world watched as 520 leaders from forty-nine African nations gathered at MANI 2006 in Nairobi to pray, share best practices, and assess the unfinished task in Africa. They celebrated the dynamic growth of the African Church and faced up to critical challenges. Commitments were made to advance national initiatives and to cooperate regionally to advance the Great Commission.

MANI flows out of the conviction that: (1) the Church in Africa has a crucial role to play in the fulfillment of the Great Commission in the twenty-first century; (2) the Church in Africa has the ministry gifts, manpower, and material resources to complete this task in Africa and to make a significant contribution toward global evangelization; and (3) through the focused deployment of the resources of the African Church, we can partner with the global Church to achieve the target of “a church for every people and the gospel for every person” in the countries of Africa and the world.

As an indigenous movement, MANI is helping churches and ministries work together and linking strategic networks for the mobilization of the African Church. It has a working partnership with the Association of Evangelicals in Africa and serves to bridge the African Church with global networks and African Christians in the Diaspora. Members of the MANI team relate closely with the WEA Missions Commission, the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, the Great Commission Roundtable, the Third World Missions Association, and with global initiatives such as Joshua Project, and Operation World.

Strengthening African National Initiatives
An African national initiative is a strategic, national process designed to mobilize the whole Body of Christ to complete the Great Commission within its borders and to send Africans in mission to the least-evangelized of the world. The goal is to see healthy churches transforming every community throughout a nation and beyond. United by common vision and solid information, national initiatives take a unique form in every country and assume a local name.

Nearly half of the countries in southern Africa are engaged in some expression of a national initiative. The first national initiative in the region was launched in Zimbabwe in the early 1990s. Called “Target 2000,” this strategic partnership involved sixty denominations in an effort to plant ten thousand congregations in unchurched areas by the end of the decade. Intrigued by what was happening across their borders, Swaziland sent a group of leaders from thirteen denominations to attend the Target 2000 national congress in 1992. Profoundly challenged, they returned home and helped the three major church associations to launch a partnership called the “Swaziland Evangelism Task.”

The AD2000 & Beyond Movement, and in particular, GCOWE 97, was used by God to light the fire of additional national movements across the region. The Namibia delegation was inspired to launch the Transformation Namibia movement, with significant strides made in networking church, business, and government leaders. Building upon the foundation of the Love Southern Africa initiative, The Evangelical Alliance of South Africa helped to initiate the World Evangelisation Network of South Africa (WENSA), which serves as a network of ministry streams within the country.

The Malawi National Initiative for Missions and Evangelism took initial steps following GCOWE 97, and the Copperbelt Survey began as a pilot project in Zambia in the years to follow. Lesotho has explored the initiation of a national initiative and strong interest has been expressed in Botswana. The Portuguese-speaking countries of Africa converged at MANI 06 and voiced their commitment to encourage one another in the formation of national movements.

Each initiative is at a different stage of development. Several are vital and growing. Some are in the exploratory stage. Others may need revitalization. Yet all are expressive of the desire among many African leaders to mobilize the whole Body of Christ to fulfill the Great Commission within their nation and beyond.



MANI SA 08 drew attention to thousands of communities
still beyond the practical reach of existing churches.

MANI SA 08 Highlights
MANI SA 08 drew attention to thousands of communities still beyond the practical reach of existing churches. Each delegation shared an update on the unfinished task in their nation and, in turn, received prayer and encouragement from their counterparts. MANI challenged the southern and Portuguese-speaking nations to send missionaries to least-evangelized peoples across the continent, with particular emphasis upon the compelling needs in Francophone Africa and the Horn.

Plenary speakers highlighted the challenges of church planting, transformation, and mission-sending. Delegates were stirred by the call to transformational discipleship from Dr. Obed Uzodinma and inspired by Dr. Reuben Ezemadu (MANI continental coordinator) and Rev. Ndaba Mazabane (World Evangelical Alliance chair) regarding the African Church's growing impact upon the world.

As African leaders gathered to pray for each nation, God's presence was powerfully felt. Tears flowed when Zimbabwean and Kenyan delegations were invited forward. Compassionate hands were extended and dozens of languages heard as the assembly broke out in heartfelt intercession for their hurting sister nations.

MANI SA 08 was highly interactive, with a significant portion of the consultation devoted to nineteen working groups, which ranged from mission mobilization to church-planting movements to community transformation. Best practices were shared by cutting-edge practitioners and synergistic relationships were established. Significant time was invested in country and regional discussions as leaders analyzed the current situation in their nations and laid out plans for ongoing collaboration.

  
MANI SA 08 was highly interactive.

MANI SA 08 sought to uniquely link national initiatives with regional, continental, and global networks. Lausanne younger leaders explored the contribution of emerging leaders to the national initiative process. Interdev Partnership Associates served an instrumental role throughout the consultation as partnership coaches for working and country groups. The WEA Missions Commission was deeply involved and provided encouraging feedback on behalf of the global Church. The International Orality Network served a working group and held a special training workshop following the consultation. Transformation Africa highlighted the 2008 Global Day of Prayer in which MANI has played a key networking function across the continent.

Delegates received a 348-page MANI SA 08 Handbook with contributions from fifty authors. It is available online or can be downloaded from the resources section of the MANI website: www.maniafrica.com.

Next Steps
MANI SA 08 was designed to serve as a catalyst in an ongoing national mobilization process. Having returned to their countries, delegations are encouraged to involve as many denominations as possible in discussions toward the formation an indigenous national research and mobilization strategy. Countries plan to cross-fertilize by inviting one another to national consultations and future training events. Each country is encouraged to develop a national research process with coaching input from the MANI research task force. Concurrently, the Ethne Information System Database is being formulated, people group lists are being updated, and relevant information compiled for use in mobilization.

MANI SA 08 working groups were encouraged to strengthen existing networks, and where none exist, to form linkages for ongoing collaboration across the regions.

Rev. Joao Barbosa de Oliveira was affirmed as the MANI regional coordinator for Portuguese-speaking Africa. Peter Tarantal (South Africa) received the baton of MANI leadership for southern Africa from Dr. Dean Carlson. In May, national coordinators from across the region gathered in Botswana for a MANI leadership retreat focused on relationship-building and peer learning.

On the continental level, the MANI African Diaspora Consultation 2008 will be held 2-8 August 2008 in Nairobi, Kenya, highlighting the opportunities and challenges before the African Church in the Diaspora. For more information, please consult the MANI website.

Conclusion
An African proverb states, “No one person can embrace the baobab tree.” Many people joining hands together are required to encircle the massive trunk of this African giant. This picture aptly conveys the biblical principle that leaders must join hands and hearts in partnership under God to disciple their nation and world. MANI SA 08 served as a catalyst, stimulating partnerships that can change nations.


Rev. Reuben E. Ezemadu (left) is the international director of Christian Missionary Foundation, having served previously as general secretary and chairman respectively of Nigeria Evangelical Missions Association. He is also the continental coordinator of MANI (Movement for African National Initiatives). Dr. Dean Carlson (right) is a member of the MANI continental team and a facilitator of MANI SA 08. Having served in Africa for twenty years, he is currently moving into a new role as vice-president of field ministries for OC International.