West Africa conference empowers nationals as missionaries

By December 21, 2011

Togo (MNN) — The Mission Society opened a new ministry focus when it hosted the International Mobilization Conference last week, its first such gathering for French-speaking African nations, in Lome, Togo.

Church leaders gathered from Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin and Cameroon for training on reaching their own people groups in the socially and politically unstable region of West Africa.

"God is calling us to break our hearts for the lost," said Michael Mozley, senior director of international mobilization for The Mission Society. "One of the things that we experience in the church is that when we begin to build a church, we focus inwardly, rather than understanding what God's commission is and what God is really longing for: that the whole purpose of the church is to have a place for believers to come as well as be trained to go out to reach others, to reach the lost."

It's an especially important principle in volatile West Africa. For one thing, non-Westerners being empowered and trained to take on the mantle of missions is vital because many of the world's unreached areas are closing to Western Christian workers.

On top of that, reports The Mission Society, this region of the globe is known for its instability. The overall social and political landscape is fragile, with new governments emerging in Benin and Nigeria, climate and food crises in Mali and Niger, and refugees of the ongoing conflict in Ghana seeking asylum in Togo. The region has also been bombarded with record natural disasters.

The International Mobilization Conference was part of The Mission Society's continued efforts to train pastors and lay-leaders in biblical truth and to ignite a passion for missions. The event, which was taught in French, was held at the Presbyterian Retreat Center in Bagbe, 35 kilometers outside of Lome.

The desired outcome was for church leaders to be better prepared to reach the West African world with the truth of the Gospel.

"People love to go, but are they prepared to go?" asked Rev. Dr. Esaho Kipuke, a missionary with a vibrant ministry who served as the conference host. "This conference is about making them prepared with principles and practical steps to mobilize the church. When we take the message of the Gospel cross-culturally, we must take the essence of the message and leave 'ourselves' behind."

Kipuke later added, "If we confuse the Gospel with our culture, we will offend people culturally, and they will miss the life-changing message of Jesus Christ."

Pray for those who attended the conference. Pray that the truths and teachings they learned will sink in and pour out from them, that the church might grow in strength in West Africa.

Learn more about The Mission Society's work in this region.

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