Africa is a land of contrasts and complexities! In God's wisdom, he has guided the Church of the Nazarene to touch lives, families and communities in a variety of ways in 42 of the countries in Africa resulting in a total membership of 600,285 Nazarenes.
Of the 600,285 members of the Church of the Nazarene Africa Region, 344,583 (57 %) are new members who joined the church in the past 10 years. There are 130 districts and 4,430 organized churches and 4,157 preaching points. We have 3,268 district licensed and ordained ministers. The majority of our preachers are lay ministers. The current reality is that some of our church leaders, pastors and district superintendents are new in the Church.
We are thankful to pastors and DSs, even those with limited training and understanding of the Church of the Nazarene, who continue to plant new churches and lead the church in their respective districts and countries. But leaders are calling us to provide them with further training and mentorship. They are hungry to learn and to know more. We need to help the church become a healthy and missional church.
Therefore, I believe, it is critical that we continue to foster creation and implementation of strategies for Church and leadership development, even in the places where we seem to have obstacles.
With this background in mind, the Lord is leading me to see our ministry, in the midst of the contrast and complexities of Africa, as of the people called "to prepare the way" so that many people will call on the name of the Lord for their salvation. To accomplish this, it is vital to prepare the way for the development of leaders and the development of healthy and missional churches in Africa. We are to be a holiness movement empowered by God to lead the people of Africa and beyond to be true disciples of Jesus Christ. This is consistent with the regional objectives: (1) Holiness Revivalism, (2) Evangelism, (3) Discipleship and (4) Education.
For the 2013-2017 quadrennium, I recommend that we prioritize the following initiatives:
1. Developing discipleship resources that address issues facing Africans to facilitate the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry and the up building of the church. Our priority would be the development of the Celebrating Holiness Resources.
2. Developing districts and local churches by encouraging the production and implementation of strategies which cultivate them to become healthy and missional. A special district focus will be to discover and/or "rediscover the biblical and missiological purpose of the district as an agent of mission." This includes mobilizing the church in missions.
3. Developing clergy with a special focus to facilitate the continued nurturing and equipping of Nazarene licensed and credentialed ministers.
This focus includes resourcing, supporting and inspiring those involved in ministry by encouragement and organization of: (a) PALCONs, (b) Africa Nazarene Women Clergy, (c) Africa Nazarene Chaplaincy, and (d) ministerial training/development. We will also coordinate the research and publication endeavors of Nazarene theologians and Bible scholars in Africa working on issues of higher African priority.
4. Developing leaders by creation of district superintendents' leadership development programs, organization of district superintendents' retreats, and arrangement for missionary retreats and strategy consultation with the goal to foster participation and buy-in on the regional strategy for church development. We will also create leadership development programs for clergy, laity (lay leaders) and educators.
5. Developing a robust communication system to facilitate interaction with the pastors and district superintendents, field strategy coordinators, regional director and missionaries, and donors.
6. Developing regional awareness by hosting a Regional Conference in 2015 to allow fellowship and cultivate strategies to fulfill the Great Commission.
7. Developing a praying Church by (1) mobilizing prayer support for missions in Africa, and (2) mobilizing prayer support for the persecuted church.
We pray for the purifying fire of the Holy Spirit to burn deep into African Nazarene hearts and lives sanctifying us and emboldening us to continue sharing the message of holiness with our neighbors near and far despite obstacles and difficulties.