–by Tony Swanson
The AIM African Mobilization Hub plays a small part in this catalytic process. We long to see our African partner churches understand and respond to the call to send missionaries with the gospel message across borders to the least of these and to the lost. If we go by numbers, (Somewhere in the region of 350 million evangelical Christians on the continent of Africa) then there is great potential within Africa’s churches to take the gospel to the unreached areas of Africa and beyond.
This requires a change of mindset, a change of thinking which leads to action. As we know, such change seldom happens overnight and is often part of a wider process. What we are convinced of, however, is that we are not alone in this venture. The Holy Spirit is awakening the Church to His call. We are, in a sense, getting with the program: God’s program, that is.
The Mobilization Hub is made up of a team of people from different countries, cultures, and backgrounds – all of whom have a desire to see at least four hundred new African missionaries mobilised by 2020. There are members of the Hub who have experience in running Kairos, which is a nine-session, interactive course on world Christian mission, designed to educate, inspire and challenge Christians to active and meaningful participation. There are other teachers whose main focus is ‘Business as Mission’ – the strategy of gospel witness through life and relationships in closed countries where access has been gained through legitimate business ventures. Others are involved in mission training through some of AIM’s short term mission programs. Some have experience in running ‘Global Discipleship courses’ with their distinctive emphasis on mobilising clusters of churches to reach proximate unreached peoples. The Hub provides a forum where all this expertise and experience can be shared in one place, and hopefully, African missionaries can find encouragement.
Our aim is to mobilise individuals, denominations, local churches, para-church organisations, and Christian institutions to cross-cultural mission. Achieving this requires multiple strategies, therefore we treat each person or entity separately, depending upon where they are in the mobilization process.
A typical scenario is an individual who has a desire to serve God in missions but has no home church to recognise the call, support them, or send them out. In that case, we may encourage them by having them attend a Kairos course or its equivalent. Then they receive training to become catalysts in their own church communities, showing their congregations the importance of the words, “How can they preach unless they are sent?”
At the appropriate time, we may then point interested Africans to already-established organisations that are seeking to send cross-cultural workers: CAPRO in Nigeria, the East Africa Sending Office in Ethiopia, the newly-established Gen 12 in Kenya, or our own AIM office in Cape Town South Africa.
Because of the complexity of mobilisation, the hub is also engaged in researching new culturally appropriate models of mission, as well as helping to build capacity within new and inexperienced African missions organisations. One example would be that of Gen 12, which is built upon the vision and hard work of Mission Campaign Network. By December of this year, they will have twelve couples and seven singles in the field, including personnel in the Horn of Africa. AIM helped in the initial stages of thinking through the structure and emphasis of this organisation. It is a work in progress, learning little by little what it takes to be an interdenominational African sending agency, but they are not alone as they seek God’s leading and begin to act on it.
As the task of catalysing the Churches in Africa to mission is so large, the Hub is a partnership rather than a single structure, whereby we draw on the expertise, resources, and personnel from a wide range of partner organisations. This means that we in AIM do not necessarily do all the training or sending ourselves, but we cooperate and collaborate with others who have capacity in these areas. This provides for greater synergy and hopefully an increased number of Africans being catalysed to mission.
At the very centre of the hub are Regional Mobilisers and 18 members, who engage in the eight mobilizing areas in the second ring. In the outer rim of the hub, are the beneficiaries for whom these activities seek to change.
More stories in this series on African Mobilization: