Reaching Africa On a Bike

June 6 2019

Tens of thousands of churches and faith communities have been established over the past 19 years in some of the most remote villages of Africa. How? Through the faithful obedience of African believers desiring to reach every village in Africa with the hope of Christ. Effective training materials have been developed and finely tuned for the cultivation of African leaders willing to plant new churches in places void of the Gospel. But as wonderful as the materials are, the real story is about the workers … those workers doing the ministry.

Getting around for most of us living in the Western world means traveling short distances in an air-conditioned car … not so for the village church planter in Africa. For him, traveling means walking many miles from village to village, often in difficult circumstances. Many of our church planters walk all night to arrive at their ministry assignment by morning. This level of faithfulness is inspirational.

David Cheeks, an OMS missionary and church multiplication facilitator for Africa, shares, “My first experience with worshiping in a village was in Tanzania. We worshiped under a large shady mango tree. The worship was energetic, dynamic, and alive. Our church planter led the worship. His love for Christ was evident. The next day, in another village more than an hour away, we again enjoyed our time of worship, and again, the same young church planter led! After worship and a community meal, we piled in the van to depart. Just before leaving, I overheard this young devoted pastor tell our regional coordinator that he hoped for a bicycle someday soon to help in his ministry.

“I wondered how much a bike cost. They told me around US$100 … just one hundred dollars! I realized I couldn’t just be impressed by the willingness of the African pastors/church planters to go, I must help them go! May all our African pastors be given the tools to aid them in fulfilling their call to help complete the Great Commission.”

To see the ministry up close, watch the video.

Do you want to help purchase a bike for a pastor or church planter in Africa?

Tags: bikes, bicycles for ministry, church planting, africa, faster pastors

Lost in Africa

May 13 2019

One weekend, about five years ago, the Almeida family (OMS missionaries from Brazil, serving in Mozambique) went to a beach to relax. On the way home, they drove back to get on the ferry … only to discover it had broken down. How were they to get across the river and back home? Someone told them about a bridge that had been built about two hours to the north.

With unclear directions and no signs, they got lost in the bush, but what they discovered were many villages and lots of people living in that area with no Christian witness. Although they eventually found the bridge and got home, they couldn’t forget the people and began to pray for them.

God impressed these people on their hearts and even though it takes four hours to get there, Paulo and Fernanda started using the bridge to explore the area. Three years ago, Paulo asked our team to pray for a meeting he’d set up. It was with a local pastor he had met and various pastors from a cult/cultic church that mixes Old Testament rituals and Mozambican culture, such as doing animal sacrifices for special events.

Today, there is a strong Bible study going with 60 leaders in a place close to the main road. One man walks two and a half hours to get to the Bible study and has never been late. The bishop of a cultic church in that area has also been attending. Recently, he asked why Jesus needed to die. When he heard the reason, he was so sad because he found out when he was old. Fernanda told him, “Praise God you found out before it was too late!”

By Debbie Wittig, OMS Missionary in Mozambique

Tags: mozambique, church planting, getting lost in africa,

Africans Need Bibles

November 19 2018

In the Great Lakes Region of Africa, Nygozi* was the first person in his village to give his heart to Jesus, despite a difficult life. His house burned down, and he lost everything.

Thankfully, his wife and children were not harmed. All he had left was his land with a large mango tree. Even through this difficult time, Nygozi remained faithful. When the Christians decided to meet together for the first time, they invited many people, including the village leaders.

On that Sunday, it began to rain. Despite the heavy rain, 125 people came to the first service, including the local chief. The church met on Nygozi’s land, under the large mango tree. After the pastor preached, he asked if anyone wanted to give their heart to Jesus, and the local chief and five other adults responded. Everyone was praising the Lord, and no one wanted to move, even though it continued to rain.

Later, Nygozi was given the gift of his first Bible. He was so thankful for it. He immediately memorized several Scripture verses. The church continues to meet on Nygozi’s land, and he hopes to plant another church soon.

We rejoice knowing that the work of the kingdom is growing and lost people are being saved in Africa … but the people in villages throughout Africa need Bibles!

Many Africans cannot afford to buy a Bible of their own. In many churches, OMS has provided a Bible for the pastor, but then it must be shared with the whole congregation and sometimes even with other villages still without a church.

We’ve even heard stories about pastors ripping pages from their Bible to distribute among the villagers so everyone could read from God’s Word … if only just a page or two at a time!

We have an urgent need for more Bibles if we want the new Christians to grow and the church to expand. Could you donate just $10 to provide one Bible for a church in Africa?

Tags: bibles for africa, pastors, gift of a bible,

Learning to Read in a Small Fishing Village in Africa

May 16 2018

Lokoa is a small fishing village in the Zawara area in the Central African Republic. Through the years, the village population has increased to more than six hundred people due to the fruitful fishing activities. In seeking to meet the needs of the community, an OMS associated church decided to offer literacy classes through the OMS Bridge to Reading ministry to many who did not know how to read and write.

One who benefitted from the literacy program is Angela Tewa, a 12-year-old girl whose parents moved to Lokoa village to earn a living by fishing. Initially, the family did not go to church as they followed the traditional religion. Angela shared that they were born and raised in a culture that taught them certain practices that do not honor God. She noted that after OMS church planters came to her village and started a church, her parents forbade her to attend the church. However, after some time, the pastor started a free literacy program, which attracted many children. Angela said that without telling her parents, she started going to the classes and was taught to read, write, and memorize Scripture. They were also taught how to count and to pray. Angela testified:

“The pastor who was teaching us encouraged us to bring our younger siblings to this training, and each night to repeat the verses we had learned and to pray in our families. I started to teach my siblings the things I was learning, and my parents couldn’t object because the church is the only school in the village. In the evening, my siblings and I began to recite the verses and prayers at home in front of our parents. Sometime later, my father and mother began to go with us to church. They gave their lives to Jesus Christ, and the pastor baptized them. After their baptisms, they burned their animist fetishes and quit offering the monthly sacrifices. Our family life has gradually changed. Little by little, we are learning to read, write, and count. I thank God, first of all, and also our pastor.”

Your giving will go a long way toward providing resources for learners such as primers, books, and pencils; and also for tutoring resources such as chalk and chalkboards for our learning centers such as the one in Lokoa where Angela is learning to read.

Bridge to Reading literacy ministry is a powerful evangelism tool that God is using to help many to learn to read the Bible.

A gift of $50 will provide a chalkboard and school supplies for a group of literacy learners.

A gift of $20 will provide literacy primers and will enable one person learn to read the Bible.

To give: https://onemissionsociety.org/give/bridge-to-reading

Help break the shackles of illiteracy by running in the OMS Freedom Park 5K Run on Saturday, June 30 at 8 am in Greenwood, Indiana! Proceeds from the race will benefit the Bridge to Reading literacy ministry in Africa and Colombia.

OMS Freedom Park Run

Tags: bridge to reading, literacy ministry, africa, learn to read, write, math, fishing village,

Freedom to Read

May 1 2018

In Acts 17:11, we read of the Bereans, that they “… received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Today, a huge number of people in the church in developing countries faces a great challenge ― the freedom to search the Scriptures for themselves. The Bible is a closed book to them.

According to UNESCO (United Nations Education Science and Cultural Organization), 857 million adults cannot read or write in any language, and 125 million youth are unable to attend school.

Bridge to Reading, One Mission Society’s literacy ministry, trains volunteers in local churches to teach people in the church and their community to read. We develop literacy materials and help mobilize tutors so that youth and adults can have the freedom to read, not just the Bible, but also materials about health and agriculture. Bridge to Reading currently has programs in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, and in Colombia.

The ability to read God’s Word provides access to scriptural truths, which lead to transformation. Catherine (far left) is a Bridge to Reading student in the Central African Republic. She shares about how learning to read has changed her life:

Before coming to this training center, I felt sad that I could not read and write. Since my mother was not able to pay for me to go to school, I had a feeling of resentment towards her. I felt hurt when I saw a sister in church reading or writing, but I couldn’t. Since I started to learn to read and write, little by little, I feel so happy. So, I appeal to anyone who is still hesitating, or who feels ashamed, to register soon in this literacy center. I pray that God will give you wisdom about it.

The Bridge to Reading literacy ministry helps people in churches learn to read the Bible. It also equips churches to reach out to their communities where people are hungry for the freedom to read.

Your generous gift to Bridge to Reading provides resources for learners and tutors, such as primers and pencils, training manuals, and chalk and chalkboards.

$50 provides a chalkboard and school supplies for a group of literacy learners.

$20 provides literacy primers so one person can learn to read the Bible.

It’s easy to mobilize your gift to spread the Gospel: https://onemissionsociety.org/give/bridge-to-reading

Help break the shackles of illiteracy by running in the OMS Freedom Park 5K Run on Saturday, June 30 at 8 am!

OMS Freedom Park Run

Tags: bridge to reading, literacy ministry, africa, south america, oms, b2r, learn to read,

​Building for a Better Future in Mozambique

August 25 2017

Mozambique is not an easy country to do ministry.

Economically, it is depressed, being one of the poorest countries in Africa. Agriculturally, the soil is sandy and plants have a hard time growing. It greatly lacks the lushness often associated with Africa. Politically, it is becoming more stable, but with an active civil war throughout most of the 1990s and numerous political uprisings until the last few years, there is still a state of uncertainty and lack of trust in the government. Educationally, there are limited opportunities. And spiritually, it feels oppressed. Christianity is often associated with the oppressive Portuguese of the past and does not have a good reputation. Yet, in the midst of this, there is hope. Hope for change, hope for a better tomorrow.

OMS has been a part of building that hope. In the past two decades, we have developed a seminary (Maputo Theological Seminary) and a thriving international K-12 school Christian Academy of Mozambique). We are developing ministries that reach out to the physically challenged (Helping Hands), and women and children. And our seminary is growing stronger. The seminary has a commitment to building strong spiritual leaders for a country that needs leadership.

One of those leaders is Pastor Daniel.

Pastor Daniel is one of the early graduates of our seminary. He is a man who loves God and loves Africa. He has worked hard to contextualize the Gospel. Over the years, he has worked hard and become one of our seminary professors and the leader of the OMS church in Mozambique. During the month of August, my wife Jan and I worked alongside our brothers and sisters in the church in Mozambique.

One Sunday morning, we joined his church for service and felt God’s moving in so many ways. The music was lively and active. And throughout the service they celebrated community blessings. Two families had apparently been feuding, but had settled their differences. So, both families went forward, almost 20 people, to celebrate this reconciliation and publicly hugged one another.

A young couple got engaged in front of the congregation. The young man professed his love, went down on one knee, and placed a ring on the young woman’s finger. Then Pastor Daniel sat them down on the front row and began a one-hour sermon on how to have a strong Christian marriage. He was explicit and talked about sexual temptations and fidelity. Overall, we experienced God moving among a people who do their best to reflect God’s character in their society.

This is the type of man I am excited about partnering with—a man who is willing to build and prepare for the future of God’s kingdom in Mozambique.

Your donation today to theological education leadership development allows OMS to partner with men like Pastor Daniel to help him build the church in Mozambique. Would you consider donating to account #408126 so OMS can move forward more strongly in the areas of theological education? Click here to give.

By Rod Dormer, One Mission Society Theological Education Team, Africa

Tags: theological education, training leaders, future church leaders, mozambique, africa,

​An Unlikely Call to Africa

September 21 2016

Kris Kappler was hesitant to spend 20 days in a country in West Africa, especially because he needed a translator to communicate in French.

“God provided a translator,” he said. “And he provided a 20-day experience which was unparalleled.”

Kris and his wife Sarah had served in Central Asia with their family for 11 years as One Mission Society missionaries before they were introduced to a ministry opportunity in Africa during an OMS conference. During the five months that Kris prayed about this option, he felt a growing sense that God was calling him and his family to leave their home in Central Asia and go to Africa. So, he responded to this need and answered the call.

Now, as the international regional director for Africa, Kris and his family live in South Africa. Kris’ ministry is to serve and supervise OMS church-planting ministries and OMS missionaries across the continent, which includes traveling to many different countries. During April and early May, Kris visited several villages and leaders in this West African nation to introduce himself, to observe what work was being done, to see what relationships were being built, and to spread the Gospel message through different programs. Throughout that trip, he saw God working in the hearts of the villagers and leaders.

Most people in West Africa speak French, so in order to help Kris with the language barrier, God provided a translator for him as he traveled. In total, he and his team visited 40 villages. These villages, Kris said, are the focus of their ministry in Africa because they tend to be neglected areas. Throughout these villages, Kris saw the poor and, as he said, “people outside of places you don’t normally go.”

In many villages they visited, there was a chief they first had to meet in order to have access to the people. Many chiefs are Christian, but not all of them. Because so much falls on the chief’s approval, Kris said, it is a critical position in any village and respecting the position is very important. Once a chief gave approval for Kris and his team to be there, they had freedom to preach and speak in a village. In one village, one where a church is present, the chief said during a meeting that he was thankful that the church was in the village and hoped that Kris and his team would continue to do what they were doing. Looking back on that experience, Kris remarked that God is touching that village.

In West Africa, the population of Muslims is high, but God is at work in the people’s hearts in the villages. Kris recounts visits to some villages where Bible studies were held for the children. In many instances, Kris said, the parents were Muslim, yet they still let their children listen to the Christian messages. In one particular village, at least 80 children attended a study.

Overall, Kris and his team held two training seminars, baptized 45 people, and ordained 15 well-qualified pastors during their visits to the 40 villages in Senegal. Kris is thankful for the opportunities he had to learn and meet the people in these villages, as well as see the churches that are being created within these Muslim populations.

Looking forward to the future, Kris wants to continuously develop relationships with the supervisors across Africa, learn French to communicate better with people, and to grow relationships with people where he attends church in South Africa.

“When it comes right down to it, communication is critical,” Kris added.

Kris also prays that God will send more missionaries to Africa. The need goes beyond critical. He wants to see not only foreign missionaries respond to this need but also African missionaries as well. And when more missionaries serve in Africa, he continued, there are also more people supporting these missions both in prayer and finances.

Please pray for Kris and for his team in Africa as they reach out to the people of this great continent, especially the population in the neglected villages. Pray that more churches can be planted, that people of peace can become bridges to some of the village chiefs, and that these relationships in the villages can grow stronger over time.

By Jess Mitchell, Communications Intern

Tags: africa, missions in africa, senegal, church planting, villages, missions call,

​A Bridge to the Bush

July 1 2016

Liberian Nationals’ Efforts to Minister to Unreached Groups

In the world’s third poorest nation, the hope of the Good News of Jesus Christ is growing rich in abundance.

Dean Davis, International Director of Every Community for Christ (ECC), shared how God is moving in Liberia, Africa, through the nationals’ efforts to spread the Gospel, make new disciples, and plant new churches through ECC’s Train & Multiply method.

In 2015, Solomon Davis, a church leader and faculty member at Monrovia Bible College in Liberia, wanted to use Train & Multiply to help churches make disciples and plant new worshiping groups. ECC invited Solomon to train in the United States in order to learn how to use this method, but he was unable to come.

Instead, Dean said, ECC developed “downloadable training,” a way to send training guides and materials so that a person experienced in evangelism and church planting can train himself or herself and in turn train others. The materials were in English with African art. English is the national language of Liberia, but it also has some 30 other spoken languages.

During the training process, Jim Hogrefe, an OMS missionary serving with ECC, worked with and coached Solomon and his friends as they learned how to use Train & Multiply. Dean said that they took the training very seriously and started to train others. Soon, they had trained more than 100 church leaders and church members on how to use T&M in multiple cities and towns in Liberia.

Among those who were trained were two pastors who spoke not only English but also Bassa, the local language. After their training, Dean said each of these pastors shared what they had learned, took their choirs and evangelism teams, and journeyed from their homes near Buchanon, Liberia, into the African bush.

The bush is typically described as a place, usually without electric power, where roads and highways don’t penetrate. Most people living there survive through hunting and gathering methods and subsistence agriculture. It was to these harsh areas, areas where Bassa is spoken, that the pastors took their teams to create new worshiping groups.

“Not just one but multiple groups,” Dean added, “and they’re training those groups to go farther in and share the Good News with their contacts.”

This succession of training — from ECC, to Solomon, to other pastors, and then to residents in the bush — is an example of using “bridge people” to share the Gospel.

“Bridge people are bilingual and bicultural people,” Dean explained. “When we find those people, there’s a great means to advance the Gospel to places where it has not been heard or embraced. For OMS… Solomon is a bridge person. He has all these contacts all across Liberia.”

With each new level of trained individuals, the Gospel can penetrate deeper into new areas of the world through bicultural and bilingual bridge people. These people can come into unreached groups with a knowledge of the language and culture, an understanding of the message they need to spread, and the skills to equip locals to continue the mission.

For foreigners and even African urban dwellers, places like the bush can be undesirable or unreachable. By using other bridge people who have better means of access, such as Solomon and the pastors who speak Bassa, the Gospel can spread farther in Liberia than it could in strictly OMS hands. That is part of the beauty of the body of Christ and the remarkable power of God’s Good News.

This pattern of finding bridges into new cultures is critical for internationalization. In this case, internalization means letting cultures different from OMS’ take the methods they have learned to continue spreading the Gospel and to send out their own groups of missionaries.

Solomon and his people, Dean added, understand that this bridging process is now primarily a local initiative in Liberia. In other words, even though Train & Multiply may have started from an international source, it will be continued and sustained on a local level. Solomon and the others want to develop self-reliant, local leaders that can use T&M across Liberia. One of those places is in the bush.

“I have no doubt that sooner or later some of these people in the bush that speak Bassa are going to be bilingual and speak another language, and the Gospel’s going to cross into another language group because they’ve been empowered,” Dean continued.

One of the greatest ways that we can serve bridge people, Dean said, is through prayer, encouragement, and continuing support and coaching as needed. Please take a moment to pray for Liberia, Solomon, and his people’s efforts to use Train & Multiply to spread the Gospel and start new worshiping groups.

For more information about Every Community for Christ and Train & Multiply, visit https://onemissionsociety.org/ecc.

By Jess Mitchell, summer communications intern

Tags: liberia, bush, africa, ecc, t&m, training, evangelism, unreached,

Literacy Brings Life

June 7 2016

Have you ever considered being able to read and write as a gift instead of just a skill?

Through the gift of literacy, we have an opportunity to read personal testimonies from people around the world who were touched by God through the Gospel and the Bridge to Reading literacy program.

B2R’s ministry uses trained tutors to teach literacy skills to adults and teens. They also give students the opportunity to read the Bible, hear the Gospel, and understand it. God works through B2R to transform people, and they, in turn, show God’s love to their community.

John Ndagano is one of those people. He was an evangelist in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) but couldn’t read his Bible. There was a military camp next to John’s village that didn’t have a chaplain. When John went to the camp to minister, he was chased away, suspected of being a spy after he failed to read Scripture.

“The first time I came to the camp, the commander asked me to read Matthew 10:17, but I could not,” John said. “I used to walk around with my Bible, but I didn’t know how to read.”

When John heard about the B2R literacy program in another neighborhood, he attended and eventually could read and write Swahili. After three years of literacy training, John returned to that same military camp, where the same commander he had met years before was still stationed.

“I told him that I have now come to pay the full price, to be beaten, before I preach to him. He told me that he wanted first to hear the Good News and after that he will beat me,” John said.

John preached to the officer. Four months later, the commander got baptized. Now, every Monday John is invited to the military camp to preach to the troops.

Yvonne Nsimire Rutikanga, also from the DRC, is another person who has gained literary skills and spiritual maturity from God by working through B2R.

B2R’s literacy program started in Yvonne’s church, and she decided she wanted to be a tutor. Yvonne returned to school so she could help contribute more to the growth of her church and attain her goal. After her successful literacy training, Yvonne began tutoring others in her church.

One year ago, Yvonne said that she received the gift of a goat from the husband of a woman she tutored. The husband was happy to see that his wife could read and write because of Yvonne’s efforts to teach her.

“Literacy brought courage, happiness, and fortune in my life,” Yvonne said.

The personal testimonies will continue next week in B2R’s next spotlight post. Check back next week to read more stories of people’s lives being changed by the power of God.

Please pray that Bridge to Reading can continue to glorify God through its literacy ministry and for the Lord to show those involved how he wants to sustain this ministry in each country and each church.

Please also join us in praying with the B2R team for Colombia:

That volunteers from Prison Fellowship, local churches, and other ministries will continue to have an open door at every prison, and that God will reveal himself through undeniable evidence of his power and love through them.

That the prisoners and prison staff would have opportunities to encounter God through the volunteers and the believers inside the prison.

That the believers in the prison will grow in their relationship with God, experience inner freedom in the Lord, and be empowered by the Holy Spirit to be witnesses through everything that they say and do.

That our trainers would have opportunities to teach the Colombian church how to use Bridge to Reading as a tool of evangelism in their communities.

Visit the Bridge to Reading website to learn more at http://bridge2reading.org/. To give to the ministry, click here.

By Jess Mitchell, OMS Summer Communications Intern

Tags: bridge to reading, literacy ministry, africa, colombia, tutoring, reading, learning to read,

Peace on Earth to Every Person

December 18 2015

By Kathleen Thompson Howarth, Mother of OMS Missionary Aimee Howarth, Mozambique

Christmas 2015 is different. Part of me is still in Africa in some sense. One doesn't make the transition after three months, in sharp order. I find many nights I am still having dreams about life there, and concerned about getting this or that ready, not having the right tools or availabilities to get something done, thinking about supplies, and getting up early to go somewhere all day. But then I wake up and here I am in Malibu, bright and slightly cool temperatures, sustained electricity and water, plenty of food, different agendas for the day, driving on streets twinkling with Christmas lights on my way to and from my house.

Christmas lights already are 30 percent off as if the season was over ... People, like myself, living in neighborhoods with little thought of a world outside our own. Unless one specifically tries to watch the world news, most of the news coverage is local or national about charitable toy giveaways, the newest Christmas gadgets, Arnold Schwartzenegger becoming vegetarian, and fractious debates about Muslims.

In this season, which bespeaks peace, we have wars and rumors of wars, and yet it seems faraway to most of us. So important to get a grasp on what real peace is. Not necessarily quietness on my own street, nor inactivity, nor just getting along with the people I know, nor peace at any price … nor for a season.

Isn't the peace that Jesus promises an order above all these superficial signs of peace? If it isn't, than I am just waiting for the other shoe to drop, and my perfect world will be shattered in an instant. It may very well be shattered, but from the dust, my heart will still beat with an enduring peace that only the Prince of Peace can give.

Thank You, Father, for giving me that peace that surpasses understanding. The peace that says, You and I are all right, we are reconciled, I am forgiven, You are sovereign, I am Your child, and You love me forever and always.

May peace on earth pierce to our very hearts where true peace can reign despite world chaos.

Tags: christmas, culture, peace, peace on earth, africa,