From the photo above, we can almost feel the anticipation as Angolan pastors test their knowledge. Each pastor is required to pass one training module before advancing to the next level of pastoral training.
Angola is astounding on almost every level. When we think of Angolans, we think of strong, capable, and enduring people. As the second largest Assemblies of God church on the continent of Africa, Angola has incredible potential to impact the region. Angolan's understand the pain of suffering and persecution, after surviving twenty-seven consecutive years of a brutal civil war. During the war, people turned to God for help and he answered. Over and over again, Angolans recall times when the Lord miraculously spared their lives, sustained their families, and showed himself to be mighty and merciful. Years after the war ended, Angola's national church stands as a strong and vibrant testimony to the goodness of God.
In Angola, church planting is so embedded in the National Church's DNA that the rate of church growth out-paces the rate of pastoral training. During the past 5 years, Angola's pastoral training program made significant strides and experienced exponential growth. Two key missionary trainers are approaching retirement age. We pray that God will call new missionary trainers with a passion for pastoral training. We remain confident that God will make a way for pastoral training to Angola thrive and continue to advance.
Look closely at the photo above, and you will see a crucial shift in fabric of African church culture. Men of all ages sit alongside their sisters in Christ, understanding that working together is the best way to effectively and efficiently plant thriving churches in Angola.
Angola's first graduating class of pastors celebrated their accomplishment in style. While attending Angola's Bible School graduation, Lance visited with a young man who eagerly introduced himself as the pastor of a small, new church plant. Always eager to hear from the heart of a new, developing minister, Lance asked to hear the young man's story. The young man eagerly shared how he had only known Jesus a short time when he was asked to lead the fledgling congregation. The young man went on to explain that since had been a Christian longer than anyone else in his community, the new believers looked to him for guidance and he became the "pastor" of the church.
Can you imagine?
When someone comes to church and gives their heart to Jesus, they need to be nurtured and discipled so that they come to understand the basic fundamentals of new life in Christ. We would never dream of putting them forward to teach Sunday school, much less rely on them to lead a congregation of other new believers.
The young Angolan pastor's story illustrates the importance of pastoral training in Southern Africa. Our mission is to plant, nurture and partner with local churches. We compassionately engage African communities with the love of Christ, and by so doing, create opportunities to plant churches in close proximity to men, women, boys and girls. As the church expands and grows, the need for trained, spirit-filled pastors increases.
We are praying God will send missionaries who have a desire to go into rural villages and provide pastoral training seminars and topical workshops so that every pastor in Southern Africa has access to training.
Three critical ways you can help immediately:
Pray: Five minutes each day that God would send missionaries, pastors, and training initiatives in Southern Africa? (10 more are needed urgently.)
Give: A special offering to help with training across Southern Africa?
Go: Let us know if you sense God dealing with you about coming to help with training.
Thank you for your commitment to see Africa increasingly redeemed and transformed.
For the Cause of Christ,
Lance & Mindy