The Church of the Nazarene has been in Central Africa for nearly 25 years. During this time, its ministry has diversified into a dynamic combination of starting new churches, developing leaders and meeting the physical needs of the communities around them. These ministries include NCM (or compassionate-type) works such as ministry to orphans and at risk children, disaster response, schools, feeding programs, child sponsorship, and agricultural initiatives. They have also utilized evangelistic ministries such as the Jesus Film and preaching campaigns. Other tools such as construction teams, pastoral education programs, and many others have all played a vital role in the development of the Church on the Africa Middle Field. Nazarenes from all over the world, including those in other parts of Africa, have come together to pray and support the ministry of this younger work. Our Family has not been here long, but it is easy to see how the ministry in the DRC and neighboring countries has transformed in the past two and a half decades.
One thing that also strikes me is the generosity of Nazarenes around the globe to give to real, felt needs in Africa. Poverty is a serious issue and the church has responded in abundance toward these major felt needs. Anyone who lives here would agree that it is necessary to be active in ministries that feed, shelter, and educate children. Echoes of Matthew 25 run through my mind, “For I was hungry and you gave me food…” as I think over the ways that the Church of the Nazarene is being faithful to feed, clothe, visit, and educate the “least of these.” It is exciting to be a part of these types of ministries and to know that the church is taking on this task. Serving in leadership on the field in several capacities allows me to see that it is mainly the NCM (compassionate ministry) works that take up most of our time. We are moved by what we see and we want to be involved in change or we give financially to support these needs.
At the same time, I wonder if we take seriously the entirety of Jesus’ command to “Go into all nations” from Matthew 28. This command doesn’t stop simply at going; nor does it finish by the addition of making disciples. The full passage reads as follows:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age”. (Matt 28: 18-20)
If we are going to accept the call to go, then we are going to have to take the call to make disciples. If we are going to accept the call to make disciples, we are going to have to take the call to baptize and to teach. Thankfully, if we do accept all these terms we have the promise that the Lord will certainly be with us through it all. My fear is that sometimes we try and settle for just going and serving, while we forget about the harder task of making disciples who observe all that Jesus has commanded.
Would there be people who are willing to support and pray for our field so that we may go big and attempt to fulfill the entirety of the Great Commission cited above? Even though the Church of the Nazarene has existed in this part of the world for more nearly 25 years, there are still so many places where the Gospel has not been preached. In the last year and a half, we have entered Cameroon and are making plans to include Gabon, Chad, and the Central African Republic as well. There are even vast regions of the DRC where we aren’t yet working and where we are strategizing to reach more people with the Gospel in the coming months. As we enter these new areas, we will see poverty of all kinds; children and adults without enough food, clothes, water, or access to education. But it is my prayer that we can bring them, above all else, reconciliation with God. This is our ministry (2 Cor. 5) and our responsibility as the Church of Christ. Let's get it done.