Islam/AIDS creating difficulties for church planting in Africa

By June 23, 2004

Africa (MNN) — Spiritual and physical sickness are two issues facing church planters in Africa. However, these two problems are not stopping believers from traveling into 10 nations of Africa to share the Gospel and eventually plant churches.

OMS International’s South Africa Director Bruce Bennett says the program is called “Into Africa”, which is a village church planting movement. Bennett says there’s a reason why they’re focusing on rural villages. “In sub-Saharan Africa there are a number of churches in the cities, but once you move out of the cities and into the villages there (are) very few churches. And, where there are churches the pastors are generally untrained,” says Bennett.

So, OMS is establishing training centers in these communities. Bennett says, “We have found that people who have been trained in cities often don’t want to go back to village communities. So, we’re taking theological education into the villages and training church planters right where they live.

The “In To Africa Program” is working in Chad, Central African Republic, Angola, Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, and the Comoro Islands. The program is part of their 20/20 initiative, planting churches in 20 countries by the year 2020.

Bennett says sickness is a problem for their outreach. He says, “In Africa there’s probably as many people dying of malaria as AIDS. And so, there’s just a general problem of health in these communities.”

War in some of these areas is also causing problems for their outreach.

Islam is also a force to be reckoned with in some of the countries in which they’re working.

The good news is, church planting work is being established. “Since February last year, on the village church planting program, initiated 180 church plants in six nations. We will continue working in those areas for up to 3 and a half years to establish and mature those churches,” says Bennett.

OMS has needs related to the program. “We need missionaries who are prepared to go and live in the rural areas and lend expertise to the program. And, also we need people to be involved in literacy training. The greatest single need for the church in the rural areas is the need for Bibles.”

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