Since we first set foot on Africa’s soil in 1984, God had directed us to work with training. The foundation of any church must rest on the Word of God. A correct understanding of God’s Word is critical to the health of the church. Paul calls this “correctly handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
The church in Africa is growing at a tremendous rate. It is amazing to realize that since 2000 the Assemblies of God has planted, on average, more than 10 churches a DAY! Yes, that is every single day for over twenty years.
This places a great responsibility upon leadership to disciple these new believers. Without training, there is the ever-present danger of syncretism, false doctrine, misinterpretation of the Word of God and false teaching. God has called us to assist the churches across Africa to provide trained leaders for these new churches.
A favorite move at Christmas is “It’s a Wonderful Life” with James Stewart. There is one thing that the movie got wrong. It should have been about a pastor, rather than a bank manager. At Africa’s Hope, we have a maxim, “Healthy pastor, healthy church, healthy community.” As we train the trainers of pastors across Africa, we help to build the capacity of the church to lead the tremendous revival that is happening there.
The old adage, “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” rings true for Africa. For decades the World Bank, the IMF and countless NGO’s have poured resources into Africa with little to show for it. (See D. Moyo “Dead Aid” 2010)
We must think strategically! Healthy pastors grow healthy churches, which build healthy communities. The crisis we face, however, is that large numbers of pastors across Africa lack even a basic understanding of God’s Word and church leadership.
Africa’s hope lies in equipping pastors to lead their churches and communities to healthy transformation. All other good things we do in Africa, whether an orphanage, a micro enterprise, a water well, community development and even evangelism, rest on the presence of a healthy pastor who leads his community to spiritual and physical health and redemptive “lift.”
We have witnessed the power of healthy pastors for more than 30 years of training leaders in Africa. We have given our lives to see salvation and transformation impact communities. By raising up leaders who raise up leaders, we multiply our efforts, see communities transformed, and witness Africa’s social and spiritual needs met.
We count it a great privilege to serve God and partner with you as we work to train leaders across Africa. Bill serves as the Provost of the Pan-Africa Theological Seminary (PAThS). If you would like to learn more about PAThS, please visit pathseminary.org.
— Dr. John Ikoni, former Chancellor of Pan-Africa Theological Seminary and past General Secretary of Assemblies of God in Nigeria, a church with nearly 3 million members.