The pastor came running over as I stopped at the church. “Francisco you must sit down …. I have news!” I tried to stretch my hand out to him to greet him the African way, hand-thumb-hand greeting. There is a lot of meaning in a handshake when you are in rural Africa. Affection and touch goes a long way to bond people there. But on this day there was no time it seemed. I wondered what could be so important that I couldn’t even greet him.
A few pastors joined us and they ran to get a chair and make me comfortable under the big old mango tree. There is excitement all around …. It was tangible. The men who joined me under the tree were dressed neatly. They are all undergoing training in Evangelism and Church planting through Wheels for God’s Word and Harvesters International Bible School using the Heart of Man material of Wheels for God’s Word and the Harvesters Church Planting model. The Heart of Man material and the Harvesters Church Planting model redefine how we look at church planting and how we plant sustainable churches. The Church in the Book of Acts is the example for this training where structure and buildings become less important and caring and love for people becomes the focus. Qualified leaders were challenged to geographically assess the need for churches in their villages and communities not further than one day away by foot or bicycle. After training they would be given time to put these new acquired skills into action.
The pastor that had anxiously asked me to sit down hastily quieted everyone down with a wave of his hand. “Francisco … this is what has happened. We have a mosque in our village build some months ago. I spoke to the builders and they said that their Imam is starting a project here. I have planted 11 churches as Harvesters taught us. I have chosen strong leaders in all 11 churches and I have trained them well. When the Imam arrived to start his program he was astonished to find there are no villagers left to disciple as they have been harvested into our newly planted churches all around the mosque.” I was astonished as we challenge our hub leaders to plant only 10 churches. These 10 churches in turn had to plant 3 each of their own. “The Imam asked us our model and how we did it but we told him the Holy Spirit was guiding us where to plant churches and that we serve the head of the church, Jesus Christ.” He chuckled and said, “He didn’t understand everything that we said but we invited him to attend one of our churches under the trees.” He stared thoughtfully before he continued on his way. “We have not seen him yet ….”
Some other stories of pastors planting churches deep in areas where previously it was impossible to plant churches started surfacing. I had to bring an end to their stories as we had to start our training. 30 Men and women gathered from central Mozambique to continue with the next phase of their training. In the last 5 months they have planted more than 172 churches with 26 hubs (which will eventually amount to hopefully 1040 churches). The aim is to plant 200 000 churches throughout Africa in the next decade.
If John Travolta was ever in Mozambique he would have loved the “Saturday Night Fever” moves I witnessed yesterday in a small village called Macadeira. Imagine leaders getting together for an “evangelism seminar” on a Saturday (can’t see that happening in the western hemisphere where church is limited to about an hour if you’re lucky). But that’s how I found them. Dancing and screaming with loud shouts of excitement as I arrived with their materials. And the moves ….. in the dust …. chokingly priceless.
There was no tango, samba, ramba or a salza but pure African beat and “tampa” as they call it there. This was all because they were getting ready to receive evangelism materials. What had made it special and exciting was the fact that we had trained our first women evangelists ever. It was a sight to behold as these woman appeared from all over to attend their first training session.
(Written by Francois Rauch. Edited by Ray Lombard)