You, and/or your church or Christian organisation, are invited to be a partner in a training initiative for church planting in Africa!
A planning group, Jacob Phiri, Andrew Swatton, and Robin Corner, with the support of several large Indian house church networks and a number of international leaders, have been planning a Pan Africa Training Conference since 2011, when the first planning group meetings were held in Bangalore, India. The object of the training conference is to see Church Planting Movements (CPM’s) multiply throughout the continent of Africa, with the result of large numbers saved and trained to be Christian disciples. Since 2011, the group has been organising prayer for every one of Africa’s states, one week for each one. The focus of this targeted prayer has been that God would raise up African CPM workers to bring the message of Christ, the cross, and the power of the resurrection, to their own tribes and nations, generating a movement with the same kind of momentum as is currently being experienced in India. The goal of the training conference is to train and motivate a pioneering group of these CPM workers. To accomplish this, we will use trainers that have had extensive experience in the Indian movement, along with other experienced CPM trainers, some of whom have successfully facilitated movements in the African context. We invite other groups already successfully using CPM methodology in Africa to join the initiative.
Background: fruitful CPM’s in India
For the past twenty years the CPM model has been effectively deployed within India and has demonstrated conclusively that it is not only massively effective and provides an efficient strategy for completing the Great Commission. One man whom God has greatly used to establish CPM’s in India is Dr Victor Choudhrie, who started this ministry in 1993. The idea was to establish many small house churches, as described in the New Testament, which would multiply and be responsible for the discipleship of the new believers coming to faith. At the beginning, progress was slow, but Dr Choudhrie received encouragement from several others who were experiencing phenomenal growth through using this type of method. After three years, Dr Choudhrie’s movement started to gain momentum, as he taught ordinary Indian believers how to be engaged in bringing in the harvest. Over a period of time, because every believer was trained to be a disciple, and to take their responsibility to share the gospel with others, as well as living a life of Christ-like discipleship in their own sphere of life, the movement has rapidly multiplied and now reaches hundreds of thousands of people.
At the beginning of 2009, a milestone was reached, and exponential growth took off with a new intensity. At the end of 2008, Dr Choudhrie felt himself to be impressed by the Holy Spirit to challenge his networks to baptise 50,000 new believers on Indian Independence Day. Somehow the believers responded to this challenge, and on the day 75,000 were baptised. Greatly emboldened, Dr Choudhrie challenged the networks to baptise 100,000 new believers on the day of Pentecost 2009 and 300,000 were baptised, not altogether in one place, but in groups of 50 here, a hundred there, at many different locations. The movement had reached a new level of maturity, and the Global House Church Movement Summit confirmed the direction many were thinking: the movement should go global. Now in 2013 Dr Choudhrie estimates the number of house church Christians in India as being double the number of believers who attend a traditional style of church. He advocates having a “completion mindset” in relation to the Great Commission of Jesus as found at the end of each of the Gospels; Jesus’ command to go into all the nations and preach the gospel to everyone, making disciples and healing the sick.
In the past few years, the religious landscape in whole Indian states has been changed by this new movement. Current persecution in India means that we can’t mention the names of these states but:
In one northern state with 20,000 villages, 7000 villages have an active Christian witness today. Twenty years ago Christianity was virtually non-existent in this state.
In another state of 28,439 villages, 95% of the villages have an active Christian witness.
In another state with 45,000 villages, 10,000 have been reached with the gospel.
By agreement of the leaders of the network, they now have a goal to reach every one of the 600,000 rural villages in India, and also every one of the 400,000 slums. This is a massive change from the India of 20 years ago, when rural India was virtually untouched. That such a large-scale movement can become established in India with its one billion population and opposition from Hinduism surely indicates that such a move could be generated in Africa also.
So what does this movement of house churches look like in India? See appendix.
Efforts in Africa to date
During the organisation of the Global House Church Movement Summit in Delhi 2009 a lot of effort was made to identify and train African delegates. Thirteen delegates from Africa attended and in the following year, 2010, training was conducted in Africa in Zambia, Kenya, Uganda, Cameroon, and Benin. This training was very fruitful especially in the first four named countries. In Zambia, Jacob Phiri has been used by God to facilitate a movement numbering at this stage over 1,700 house churches. Church planting workers in Kenya and Uganda, especially in the latter have also been very fruitful, with several hundred churches established. Churches have also been started in Cameroon and Benin by local leaders. In 2011 a delegation of African leaders attended a conference on marketplace ministry in Bangalore, where discussions were held on a future strategy for Africa. From the end of 2011 a prayer initiative was launched over 54 weeks, during which each of the 54 African countries was the subject of one week’s prayer. While this has been happening, other missions organisations have also been very fruitful in starting CPM’s in Africa. It is our earnest hope that they will send representatives to the current conference in Kenya, and we can all work together. There is a strong sense that the time for Africa is now.
I believe that prophetically, it is time for Africa in general and Kenya in particular, to arise to the challenge of the great commission of Jesus. As I write this, it’s only yesterday that Britain agreed to pay £19.9 million in compensation to victims of torture under the previous colonial administration during the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya. As I watched the news on the BBC World Service, most of the commentators and people interviewed said that now is a time of reconciliation, reconciliation of Kenya with its previous colonial ruler. While reconciliation over atrocities in the colonial era is important, and we rejoice to see it happening, even more important is reconciliation between man and God, and in particular reconciliation between grassroots African people and God. Only the gospel and the blood of Jesus provide an answer for this. It is time for Africa to rise and see the people set free. We are organising a training conference in Kenya (September 19th –26th ) for leaders from as many African countries as possible.
A house church meeting – the meeting looks nothing like a traditional church meeting. For a start there is no purpose-built building. Probably the believers are meeting in a private home, and usually the meeting is quite small. The strength of this movement doesn’t lie in large meetings, but in many small meetings. Typically, the believers sit in a circle, cross legged, Indian style. They are worshipping, and the music is Indian, not Westgern. There may be a sitar, and a tabla, and other Indian instruments. People are clapping along with the rhythm of the music, and singing songs to God. If you came into the meeting as a stranger, you could think this was a Hare Krishna meeting, but in fact only Jesus is worshipped here. Perhaps there are some sadhus in the meeting, wearing the orange robes of the traditional holy man in India, and joining in with the songs to God. If they had become Christians in a traditional church, they would have been told to stop wearing their orange robes, and wear a Western suit when attending church. But these sadhus have many opportunities to talk about spiritual things with ordinary folk in India. People just approach them when they’re walking down the street, and want to talk about this spiritual question or that. The enquirers receive an answer that is authentically Indian, and authentically Christian at the same time. There is no pulpit and no preacher at the meeting. Instead the believers take 1 Corinthians 14:26 as a model for their meeting, with everybody participating and bringing a Scripture, a question, a testimony or comment.
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Tel: (852) 6408 2410
Fax: (852) 3020 0348