An Embattled, Victorious Church
On Sunday, Dec. 2, 14 people were killed by terrorists at an evangelical church in eastern Burkina Faso. The attack is the most recent in a string of attacks on churches across Africa, including one on an Assemblies of God church in Burkina Faso in April. As part of the October 2019 WorldView magazine (pg.22), AGWM Africa Regional Director Greg Beggs addressed the ongoing crisis, issuing the following call to action:
One of our beloved AG pastors in Burkina Faso, Peter Ouédraogo, and five men in his legacy AG church were executed by Islamic extremists on Sunday, April 28. Other churches in the area remain under threat. My heart breaks over these believers’ desperate plight. And yet, despite the tragedy involved in this situation, I believe such opposition and suffering are signs that Assemblies of God World Missions is fulfilling its continuing, Spirit-directed mission.
Our missionary team and national church fellowships across the continent are pursuing God together in the power of the Holy Spirit for an increasingly redeemed and transformed Africa. What does an increasingly redeemed and transformed Africa look like? To me it looks like a church, a local community of faith, within walking distance of every African on the continent. These lighthouses are targets for attack by the enemy of our souls; but they remain lighthouses never the less.
To fulfill this mission, every local church has to be a healthy church. At the end of the day, our job as missionaries is to plant the church so people can be discipled. We then entrust that church to local trained leaders who will continue to serve their communities. In Africa, reaching, planting, training and serving all revolve around established local churches.
In order to reach, plant, train and serve — with each ministry component thriving within an African context — we work with and through local churches and national churches where such structure exists. Where it doesn’t exist, we continue to seek out open doors to pioneer and plant. Whether partnering with local Christians or pioneering a new work, we need more missionaries.
We are believing God to send us between 200 and 250 missionaries to engage this initiative — our primary and main initiative — of planting the church. Let me give you just one example of where we could place literally hundreds of team members, should God call them to join us.
One of our greatest challenges in Africa is to reach young people who are rapidly becoming global citizens through multimedia. For the most part, they have no one to guide them in dealing wisely with all of the information that’s hitting them. No one to come alongside a young woman, for instance, who is being fed the world’s goals and guidelines for womanhood, and say to her, “You are becoming a woman of God. You do not have to give yourself to the first boy who comes along. Your worth is so much more than this in the eyes of God.”
Africa’s children face so many obstacles to a godly future. We don’t have enough people talking to children about their worth. We need missionaries with a passion for children’s ministry who can show young boys and girls that they can be a viable part of the church even now.
We don’t have enough missionaries who are engaged in training local pastors. Parts of Africa where the church has begun to grow, rapidly in some cases, are faced with a deep shortage of Bible-educated church leaders. We desperately need people to come alongside new Pentecostal churches to train pastors so that doctrine remains balanced and scriptural.
All of these steps revolve around the establishment of healthy local churches. Our greatest challenge in Africa is mobilizing enough missionaries to partner with existing churches in order to plant more churches.
Perhaps you feel that the Lord is calling you to Africa. The key to discerning that call and obeying it? Prayer. You need to learn to pray; you need to really learn to pray. You need to learn to pray in the Spirit. You need to learn to pray prayers of spiritual warfare. Africa desperately needs people who know how to pray.
As God clarifies His direction for your life, take the next step and go to your district network and begin the journey of becoming a candidate missionary. Our Africa regional office has a designated team member who will walk with potential new missionaries through the whole process of application and help get them engaged with AGWM. More information is available online at wideopenmissions.org.
Can it be a little daunting? Yes. Will the rewards outweigh the sacrifice? Absolutely! If you feel like the Lord tugging at your heart about some of our critical needs in Africa, we believe you can make a difference.
Somewhere in Africa, there very well could be a town or village where you will help plant the first Assemblies of God church.