Ivory Coast( MNN) – The Ivory Coast is in rebuilding mode.
They just celebrated National Day with an eye cast toward National Peace Day, November 15. Both are reminders of the work that it takes to maintain peace.
Once hailed as the model for stability, a coup in 1999 destroyed three decades worth of growth. The Ivory Coast has been struggling to weed out the ethnic discord caused 14 years ago and make its comeback.
An uprising in 2000 was followed by a rebellion in 2002. As it seemed to wind down in 2004, Ivory Coast remained tense and divided. Then, in 2010, violence flared after elections when the sitting president refused to concede the vote . In November 2011, he was deposed and transferred to The Hague to stand trial at the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity.
That left a mess to clean up. Global Advance’s David Shibley says, “The country has been through terrible civil strife, there is a tenuous peace now. The churches are beginning to rebuild. They’d lost a lot of ground during the years of what some termed an actual ‘civil war’. The economy remains very fragile. You can see the Church is really endeavoring to move forward. ”
Church leaders could see that without a heart change, the discord that erupted recently could likely be repeated. Shibley adds, “We were invited by a wonderful pastor who also serves as the vice president of the Evangelical Alliance. 313 pastors and church leaders attended the conference.” Their purpose: “When you lift the spiritual life of church leaders and pastors, you’re lifting the spiritual life of the nation.”
Each year, Global Advance hosts and sponsors Pastors Conferences, Roundtables and training initiatives for indigenous pastors around the world. Over 90% of pastors in developing nations will never have the chance to attend seminary or formal Bible training. Many are in desperate need of encouragement. (Ivory Coast represents the 90th nation where they have a ministry presence).
Global Advance training events are catalysts for church planting, and discipleship. Global Advance provides national pastors and church leaders a vision in their hearts and tools in their hands for the advance of the Gospel. “The pastors themselves, over 100 of them committed to planting at least one new church within the next 12 months”, Shibley notes. A leader needs individual training, too. “All of them committed to either a maintaining or a beginning a daily time with the Lord.”
This kind of change doesn’t happen overnight. Global Advance has a long-term commitment in mind. “One thing that we will do is make a two to three year commitment to Cote d’Ivoire,
Ivory Coast, and in doing that we will bring in Marketplace Mission training as well for Christians who serve the Lord in businesses there.” Shibley goes on to say that, “That is kind of the one-two punch of our ministry in nations, of not only equipping pastors but also equipping believers in the marketplace to really make a difference for Christ and to really represent Him well…also, to generate income, to produce jobs, and to really exalt Christ in the rebuilding of the infrastructure of the nation.”
Celebrating freedom and peace this year in the Ivory Coast takes on a whole new meaning for the Church. Shibley says the Ivory Coast could be the model of forgiveness, too. “We need to be praying, I believe, for the peace of the nation that peace would prevail. There are still deep hurts and animosities. God was very gracious in the conference to minister at a deep level to many of these pastors who, themselves, were affected by the civil strife.”
Based on what Shibley observed in his visit to Abidjan a couple weeks ago, God seems to be rebuilding the Ivory Coast, one Church at a time.