When we work together to equip the saints, communities change for the better. With time, these communities across Africa and the people in them begin to thrive. They live lives with the hope of the Gospel, where dreams for development and maturity can be pursued. To us, this is success – where pastors and church leaders are biblically literate and theologically sound and plans for community maturity and growth (spiritually, emotionally, and physically) can be defined. We have story after story of where this has happened. Let us tell you one.
In a rural area outside Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi, Jesus Calls church cares for community members from the surrounding 22 villages. They foster the area’s ability to thrive by providing:
An orphan care program providing 69 orphans with maize flour, home cooking, soap, and other basic necessities
A nursery school attending to 121 children
Tuition for 15 orphans to receive secondary school education
Bible study programs and counseling for 89 women living with HIV/AIDS, in addition to the provision of a garden that grows vegetables to help them maintain proper nutrition
An under-5 clinic open to the community’s children
An outreach group ministering to 35 widows
But this area did not look so hopeful in 2012. At that time, Chipiliro Jentala Phiri was the pastor of a small church of about 40 people in Chankhungu, Malawi. When he started his education with African Leadership he shared a bit of his heart and why he was pursuing this education. He explained: “After seeing the problems my community was facing, I felt a burden in my heart to do something about it.”
In the years since graduating from African Leadership’s program in Malawi, he has marveled at what his church has grown into. As Pastor Chipiliro’s understanding of Scripture deepened, so did his ability to articulate a biblical worldview to his church members. As he grew in his own maturity, he invited others to participate with him. His church grew from 40 people to 421 members. And as they contended with one another for transformation, they grew their passion for caring for the community around them. They started initiatives like an orphan care program, a nursery school, secondary school support, Bible study groups for women with HIV/AIDS and widows, and an under-5 health clinic for the smallest among them.
While these developments can be traced back to the heart of ONE church leader in Africa, they are not his alone to celebrate. A church in Nashville, Tennessee approved the funding that allowed Pastor Chipiliro to learn about community dreaming and planning – and he went on to teach this class to others. A group of ten 60-year-old women threw a birthday party fundraiser that subsidized the books, study Bible, and network in Malawi that discipled and mentored Pastor Chipiliro for three years. A woman who survived the genocide in Rwanda leveraged her skills to teach Pastor Chipiliro and others about trauma care and healing techniques. These are the achievements of the global Church as we contend for the faith of our brothers and sisters across the continent of Africa.
This is just one example of what success looks like in this work. We are currently working with over 5,500 local pastors and community leaders in Africa – people just like Pastor Chipiliro -- who are dreaming of how to equip the saints and see their communities thrive. We provide them education and a framework to act on their dreams in their unique context. But they are only half the story. Just like those ten women throwing their birthday party, partners like you are needed in these stories and solutions. We need you to contend for the faith God has entrusted to us. Together we pursue. Together we equip. Together we thrive.
P.S. When we work together, each playing our role, we transform the world. Learn some more examples of where we have seen the global church have impact here.