Will ‘Jabulani’ define missions in a new era?
Okoth, whose father tried to kill him when he became a Christian, was a featured speaker for Jubilani Africa!
The unprecedented five-day event July 31-Aug 4 brought together hundreds of African and American Christians to celebrate ‘God’s faithfulness’ and to dream of a future with mutual respect and joint partnering in missions, leaders said.
According to 2002 statistics compiled by American and African church leaders, there are now 14,670 congregations of churches of Christ in Africa, more than exist in the United States.
Statistics show 1,014,021 church members in Africa. Churches of Christ in the United States, 2000 edition, lists 1,264,152 church members in the U.S. and its territories.
In his speech Okoth told the audience that Africa now has many capable, mature church leaders and urged the two nations to work together in the future through a new missions paradigm — an equal partnership based on mutual respect — to continue the work of God in Africa.
His comments illustrated dramatic changes occurring within the African Restoration Movement—shifts that are being expressed in new interpretations of missions and ministry.
After stating appreciation for those involved in African missions, he urged U.S. elders to visit Africa, talk with articulate, knowledgeable native leaders and ‘let us advise you about what works here.’
Jubilani Africa — the Zulu word means rejoice — is the first such conference for the churches of Christ in their history. It permitted African church leaders to meet with their counterparts and share ideas on topics such as Muslim evangelism, elderships in Africa, partnering with American churches, and the role of education and development projects in strengthening the African church.
The conference was sponsored by the White’s Ferry Road church, West Monroe, La., and hosted by the Richland Hills church, Fort Worth, Texas. Coordinators for the event were former African missionaries Sam Shewmaker, Searcy, Ark., Wendell Broom (below left), Abilene, Tex., and Stan Granberg, Portland, Ore
African delegates taught classes, gave country reports and presented main lectures. They spoke passionately about their country, their mature leadership, their evangelistic efforts and their desire to be treated as equals by American missionaries and churches.
The conference was designed to be highly interactive, involving people in dialogues and discussions.
‘We wanted Americans to have an opportunity to sit face to face with Africans, to ask them questions and listen to what they said,’ said Granberg (left).
‘I constantly saw groups of 2,3,5 or more Africans with 15 or 20 Americans where the Americans were asking questions and the Africans were providing expert assessment and information.’
African participants expressed surprise and delight at the number of American Christians who have given time and resources to Christians in Africa.
Douglas Boateng, an elder of the 1400-member Nsawam Road church, Accra, Ghana, urged American churches of Christ to work on their unity because ‘various groups are coming to Africa bringing their particular doctrinal issues and causing problems and splits among African churches.’