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The Gospel and Africa's Expansion - The Gospel and Africa's Expansion, Part 2

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram
The Truth Network Radio
June 25, 2024 6:00 am

The Gospel and Africa's Expansion - The Gospel and Africa's Expansion, Part 2

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram

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June 25, 2024 6:00 am

Some of the most underappreciated and overworked people throughout the Christian world are pastors. So, what can the body of Christ do to help and support these church leaders? In this program, two members of the Living on the Edge International Team will give us the answer. Hear about the real-life issues facing believers in Africa and the practical ways you can practically encourage struggling and under-resourced pastors.

Main Points
  1. Importance of Healthy Pastors: Healthy pastors are crucial for the health of the church. Living on the Edge focuses on helping pastors achieve spiritual health.
  2. Strategic Importance of Africa: Africa is becoming increasingly important for Christianity due to its growing population and the rise of Christianity on the continent.
  3. Challenges with Current Christianity in Africa: Despite a large number of Christians in Africa, there is a lack of depth and discipleship among them, leading to various societal challenges.
  4. Initiatives to Support Pastors in Africa: Living on the Edge conducts training programs like the "Art of Survival" to help pastors develop resilience and engage in discipleship.
  5. Impact of Training Programs: The "Art of Survival" training has reached thousands of pastors across Africa, leading to positive changes in their lives and communities.
  6. Success Stories: Stories from countries like Ethiopia and Uganda demonstrate the transformative impact of the training programs on pastors and their congregations.
  7. Expansion to West Africa: Living on the Edge's initiatives are expanding to West Africa, with thousands of pastors in countries like Ghana, Togo, Burkina Faso, and Cote d'Ivoire.
Broadcast Resource About Chip Ingram

Chip Ingram’s passion is helping Christians really live like Christians. As a pastor, author, and teacher for more than three decades, Chip has helped believers around the world move from spiritual spectators to healthy, authentic disciples of Jesus by living out God’s truth in their lives and relationships in transformational ways.

About Living on the Edge

Living on the Edge exists to help Christians live like Christians. Established in 1995 as the radio ministry of pastor and author Chip Ingram, God has since grown it into a global discipleship ministry. Living on the Edge provides Biblical teaching and discipleship resources that challenge and equip spiritually hungry Christians all over the world to become mature disciples of Jesus.

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Did you know that some of the most underappreciated and overworked people throughout the entire Christian world are pastors? I've known a lot of these people who are doing an amazing job at great sacrifice. They need help. They need encouragement. And today I'm going to share with you how together with Living on the Edge, you're making a difference.

You don't want to miss it. Thanks for joining us for this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. Living on the Edge is an international teaching and discipleship ministry focused on helping Christians live like Christians. I'm Dave Drouie, and today we'll continue highlighting the unbelievable ways God is moving throughout the continent of Africa and the meaningful work we are doing there. With us again is our Executive Vice President of Global Ministries, Andrew Acardi, and our Africa Director, Patrick Cucchio. Last time these two discussed the rapid growth of Christianity in the global south and considered what everyday life looks like for a pastor in Africa. In this program, Andrew and Patrick will address the issues facing the church in Africa and how Living on the Edge is answering the call to encourage and disciple believers there. So if you're ready, here's Andrew with the remainder of this discussion, The Gospel and Africa's Expansion.

Thanks, Dave. So today we're talking about the important role that pastors play in building a healthy church and why it matters to all of us. And we're joined by Patrick Cucchio, who is the Africa Director for Living on the Edge.

As we mentioned yesterday, he's an experienced youth pastor, church planner, and provided church leadership throughout the continent of Africa. Hey, Patrick, it's great to have you back. Oh, thanks, Andrew. It's good to be back.

I'm looking forward, excited about today's conversation. Yesterday we talked about the importance of a pastor being healthy. That is, spiritually healthy.

You know, we talked about you cannot give what you don't possess. Another phrase that we typically like to use is the pastor must become who he wants their people to be. So it's very important for the health of the church, for the pastor to be spiritually healthy. And so we're going to talk a little bit today about what Living on the Edge is doing to help pastors be healthy. But let's start off first with Africa will be one of the most strategic locations for Christianity in the next decades.

Why is that? Well, Andrew, Africa is a very strategic continent for many reasons. If you look at the numbers, the current population of Africa is at 1.1 billion. Estimated by 2050, that population will have grown to 2.4 billion people. So put otherwise, one in every four human beings on the planet by the year 2050 will be African. A cheap way of putting it is that the future is African. Anyway, if you look at the numbers of Christians, we are about 718 million Christians right now on the continent of Africa. That number is growing. And by 2050, it will be at 1.1 billion, 1.1 billion Christians on the continent of Africa. Whereas Christianity might be declining in the global West, in the global South, and particularly in Africa, it is rising.

It is rising. Then when you look at the average or median age, the median age of Africa is currently 19 years old. The US's current median age is 39 years old. Brazil is 32. Asia is 31.

Europe is 44. Africa holds a bright future for influencing not just geopolitics, but for influencing matters of faith, because the youth culture will definitely be the dominant culture, and most of these young people are going to be residents in Africa. You mentioned that the Christian population is quite large by percentage, and it's just going to continue to grow. So it really begs the question, though, what type of Christians are there right now in Africa?

Andrew, that is one of the greatest questions I've heard in a long time. I am persuaded, Andrew, that Africa is one of the most evangelized continents on the globe. If you think of any evangelist, they are bound to have preached several times in Africa. There are millions and millions of people who have been warned to the faith, but you wonder where are they? Where is their impact?

Where is their influence? I have struggled with the dilemma of how is it possible that we have 718 million Christians on the continent, yet we are home to some of the longest wars, civil strife, poverty, sickness, poor leadership. I almost expected, maybe I'm naive, but I expected that if we had such a large number of Christians on the continent, and if they lived out their description of being the souls of the earth and the light of the world, Africa would not be the same again. So in answering your question, what type of Christians do we currently have on the continent, I would simply say, undiscipled. They lack depth and discipleship. So I'm equally persuaded that the future of Africa is in disabling, in conserving the harvest, because the gospel has been preached extensively in Africa. But we need more disciples than decisions, because we have too many decisions, but very few disciples on the continent of Africa. You know, the late theologian J.I. Packer is famous for saying that the church is a thousand miles wide and a half inch thick, meaning a lot of people have come to Christ, but it's not very deep in their maturity. And he said that about the United States, but that certainly, it sounds like, also represents Africa.

It sure does. As a pastor, I have been forced to prioritize discipleship. Before joining Living with the Age, we were confronted with somewhat of a crisis when one of our members in very high standing in society was caught up in a scandal. And we realized it wasn't just that one person who was struggling to live out their faith at the marketplace, but there were several members of our churches that were struggling to live out their faith at the marketplace.

Then we realized, what could be the problem? And we were candid and honest with ourselves, and we realized that our problem was poor discipleship. So we had to develop a discipleship pathway to help our members. This is about five years ago, and I'm happy to report, and we are seeing considerable change and impact when members of our congregation are being called and given civil service roles where they're influencing policy. And you can see, you can hear them attempting to live out their faith at the marketplace.

Let's go back to that phrase again. The church rises and falls on the spiritual leadership of the pastor and the strength of its disciples. And so the pastor needs to be personally spiritually healthy, and they need to have a process for developing their people so the people become stronger disciples. One of the things that I'm really encouraged about is some of the things that we've been able to do at Living on the Edge. As a matter of fact, when we first met, it was around an election in Kenya. And so Living on the Edge partnered with an organization called the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya by bringing a message called the Art of Survival to Pastors, which essentially is don't give up, persevere, keep going. But you did more than that, and you brought churches together in a certain way to help disciple those pastors, and they discipled their people. Can you just tell us about that story?

Sure. It was very exciting to participate in this training. We traveled from city to city. We met about 41 different stops across the country where we would meet with an average of 220 pastors per session. And we basically would walk them through this resilience building program, the Art of Survival, and the message of hope. And we would challenge the participants to actually go and teach the same message in their congregations and to find other 10 people that they would share the same message with. We had an amazing experience just traveling across the entire country. By the time we were done, we had reached thousands and thousands of pastors. Cumulatively, over a period of about 9 to 10 months, we had reached over 40,000 pastors, and this message of the Art of Survival had been preached in hundreds of churches and congregations. And at the same time, you were encouraging pastors how to engage in a political environment.

Absolutely, Andrew. That was another interesting and very exciting piece to the story. Our election cycle happens after every five years. So after every five years, Kenya would experience lots of election-related violence. Right before our last election, which happened two years ago, we sat down as a church and began to ask ourselves, how can we stem this tide? How can we change the narrative? So we organized for a conference, and we brought together pastors, and we had a consultative gathering. And the galvanizing question at this summit was, who sets the political agenda in a country? We did realize that the church had a critical role in shaping the politics and the governance of any country.

So we decided as a church, reached across denominations, across persuasions, and we decided to take a common stand and say, we will set the agenda for the political narrative in our country. It will be void of violence. It will be void of tribal bigotry. It will be void of any such practices that we had experienced in the past. And for the very first time in many years, Kenyans went to the polls united.

We voted, and there was no violence reported across the entire country. Other than just having the conversation, we developed a discipleship material that we used during the election period and was taught. It was used as a small group discussion. It was taught from the pulpits. We developed a series just challenging the church to find our place as custodians, as peacemakers, basically just investigating and interrogating what is the role of the church in matters governance.

And that indeed, Andrew, is a story that can actually turn out into a movie or fill up books. Yeah. Well, it's an amazing story that in a country that had seen violence in its elections, and you weren't telling people who to vote for. You were just saying, this is what the biblical standard is. Absolutely. These are the biblical ethics that we should be following and just encouraging pastors to, let's keep this in mind as we go to this political season. Let's be Christians who live like Christians. Absolutely.

As we say here, Living on the Edge. You know, one of the things that is so encouraging to me about that is Chip will talk about the three characteristics of a healthy church. And the first one is, is that lost people are regularly coming to Christ. So in a healthy church, people are always coming to Christ.

It's just routine. Yes. And found people or believers are growing to maturity. That's discipleship. Yes. And the last one is, is the church is meeting some of the deepest needs in the community.

And that's what happened here. It was a collection of thousands of churches that came together and said, one of the deepest needs in our community, in this case our nation, is no violence. Biblical ethics.

Yes. And that's the power of Biblical training in this regard. You can cast a vision for where you would like the church to go. It's interesting that whereas the season of politics was always a very delicate season that would end up splitting some churches right down the middle, this time the season of politics was not as dicey and as delicate as it was. People were not overly sensitive. There was no trouble rhetoric.

People were very civil. And so we demonstrated to ourselves that it's actually possible for the church to set an example to the rest of the country. You know, certainly in the United States we're in an election season and violence is a very real thing right now. It's a very real topic of conversation. I hope we can learn some things from Africa.

You're listening to Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. And before we continue this program, as you've heard today, God is doing incredible work through this ministry all over the globe. Right now we have team members in some of the most hostile places on the planet encouraging church leaders. We'd love to tell you more. So keep listening after this message to learn how we're supporting pastors and what you can do to help us.

With that, here again are Andrew and Patrick. You know, after we started off in Kenya, then it just kind of took off around Africa and we found ourselves in Malawi, Uganda, and then Ethiopia. I mean, Ethiopia is not exactly a location that's known for peace and stability either.

So can you tell us just a little bit of what's happened in some of these countries? Uganda was amazing. We got together about 60 leaders at the capital city called Kampala. We spent some time training them. This was done in partnership with an amazing Christian organization that is very intentional about matters discipleship. The Pastors Discipleship Network is the name of the organization. Having trained these 60, we took the multiplication approach. We challenged them to go out across the country and train other pastors and share the same message. And it's interesting to see that after about seven months, they are reporting 35,141 pastors trained in seven months. That's just amazing to me.

Yes. And the positive messages that are coming back, I was almost giving up. I had given up. But this message was timely. And I'm back to the ministry.

I am back to serving God's people. You talk about Ethiopia. Ethiopia is known to be a very fragile country with lots of civil strife, prolonged hostilities between tribes. When we got to Ethiopia with the message of the atoms of our, this message of hope, the pastors were so grateful.

Because they just come from one of the worst civil wars where hundreds of thousands of lives had been lost. Many had been displaced. And when we shared this message, the leadership in Ethiopia said, this is a message that Ethiopia needs to heal its wounds.

And so it took off. And it's amazing to see over 20,000 pastors have already been equipped within a very short time. But there was one particular leader who I became friends with, and I realized that the message of the art of survival was not just relevant for the congregation, but was relevant to him as a person. He and his wife were blessed with 10 children. Three passed away and they left at seven.

And one of the seven suffers autism. I did not know that he had been struggling up until this time. Here he is leading a denomination with 11 million members in Ethiopia. But he was about to give up on account of the personal struggle of caring for his autistic son. But when he encountered and heard the message of the art of survival, he came through the training. Something turned in his heart and in his mind. And he decided that though he had developed some bitterness against God and was about to throw in the towel, he turned around completely and said, I will not give up.

There are many who are looking up to me. If I walked away from the ministry on account of my son's illness, what would it be said of me? And so he held on. He still doesn't have access to the best support system or medical care for his autistic son, but his attitude has changed. He's leading with so much joy, knowing that God has his back and that he can choose his attitude in the midst of this very challenging situation.

He can constantly experience wisdom from God, supernatural wisdom, but he can also look at his own personal circumstances through God's perspective. And what kept it all for me, Andrew, was to see the effect one man's story has had on an entire denomination, about 11 million people, because they're saying they're a leader with still this temptation to quit. So they too are hanging in there. Wow.

That's just amazing to me. You mentioned pastors in Africa are simple lives, but they're resilient, but they still need encouragement. When a pastor checks out, that doesn't help their people. And so the opportunity for Living on the Edge by providing the art of survival is to say, don't give up.

God's right there with you. Here's the theology that we all need to embrace. The Holy Spirit's willing to give you wisdom.

Have a great attitude in it, even though it's challenging. And it's just amazing to see tens of thousands of pastors in Africa respond in almost the same way every time. You know, I'm in it.

I'm going for it. Very true. And we've seen pastors saying, this is not just a message that was tailor-made for a COVID season. We have found it applicable because the truths that are shared about the right attitude, a resource from God, and the right theology, and the need for these three skills are applicable through the multiple challenges that we are faced with, not just when it's COVID or natural disaster, throughout life.

So it's been exciting to see an amazing response to a simple but profound message, the art of survival. And now doors are opening in West Africa as well. Oh, you could say that again. It's been said that you are not doing anything in Africa if you don't have a presence in West Africa.

It's a joke. But it is true, West Africa is a populous part of Africa. It accounts for a significant portion of the entire population of the continent of Africa. So it's interesting just to see how God has opened a door for us to go into West Africa. God has opened a door for us to train 36,000 pastors in Ghana. God has opened a door for us to train 32,400 pastors in Togo in West Africa. God has opened a door for us to train 22,500 pastors in Burkina Faso. Burkina Faso is another fragile country that has experienced lots of terrorist incidences.

There are people fleeing from the north just for safety. But the pastors have said, please come. The church needs to be encouraged.

The country needs to be encouraged. So we are going to be training 22,500 pastors in Burkina Faso. Then another 36,000 pastors in Cote d'Ivoire, Ivory Coast. Amazing doors that God has opened. And the pastors are saying, we need this training and we want to participate.

Not just as recipients, but the ones who want to contribute to the cost of training. And that has really warmed my heart as the Africa director. It's amazing the doors that God is opening for Living on the Edge all around the world, but especially on the continent of Africa. It's just incredible to think that we just started all this training since COVID just a few years ago. And it's very possible that over 200,000 pastors in Africa will have received this Art of Survival training since the pandemic.

It's just an amazing thing that God is doing. So if you've been a financial supporter of Living on the Edge for the last couple of years, these real life stories are your legacy. You're making a difference. You're partnering with us and you're making a difference. And if you haven't given before, now is a great time to partner with us for the first time. Since the beginning of June and all the way through July 9th, a small group of donors have pledged to match every dollar that you give. So let me just ask you to consider giving to Living on the Edge to help us support pastors all over the globe by giving them some much needed training and encouragement.

Dave will tell you how you can be part of the Mid-Year Match in just a minute, but let me just pray as we close. Lord, thank you for Patrick. Thank you for the opportunity for Living on the Edge to serve in Africa. Thank you for the great fruitfulness. Thank you for the changed lives that we've seen. And thank you for these partners, people who have supported us financially and through their prayers. God, would you do an even greater thing in Africa?

Yes. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen and amen. I'm Dave Druey, and this is Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. Andrew Acardi was our host today, and his guest was Patrick Cucchio, Africa director with our international team. We pray this discussion over the past two programs has revealed the discipleship needs in Africa and how, with God's help, we're working to meet those needs. In fact, Chip's joined me in studio now to share a few more details about what we're doing for church leaders and believers all around the world.

Chip? Thanks, Dave. At Living on the Edge, we focus on three things, growing disciples like you, equipping leaders, and reaching the next generation. And you might ask, why do we do this? It's because we believe that the most urgent need in the church today is discipleship. And if you want to impact the world for good, it's those who are committed to God's word who are going to do it. A church will only go as far as the spiritual leadership of the pastor and the strength of the disciples that are being produced in that church. But unfortunately, only 14 percent of pastors believe they're effective in making disciples. And that's why we're committed to training pastors here in the United States and around the world. So far, we've actually trained 180,000 pastors face to face.

And here's what happens. After a pastor is trained, they take what they learn, they share with their congregation, and literally millions of people are impacted. We need an army of people who want to see good take on evil. The time is growing more and more desperate.

I mean, all you have to do is turn on the news, look at what's happening all around the world, and you recognize people need Jesus. Our God-sized dream is to train an additional 200,000 pastors. That's double what we've already done by the end of this year. But we can only do that through your generous financial support. And right now, there's never been a better time because of a small group of donors. Every dollar you give between now and July 9th is going to be doubled dollar for dollar. Thanks so much for praying, asking God what he would have you to do, and then following through.

Thanks, Chip. And if you believe God is calling you to encourage and support pastors with us, now's a great time to become a financial partner. Because from now until July 9th, every gift we receive is being matched dollar for dollar. So to be part of our mid-year match, call us at 888-333-6003, or go to livingontheedge.org.

That's livingontheedge.org, or call 888-333-6003. App listeners, tap donate. As we close, are you looking to get even more plugged in with Living on the Edge and our resources? Then let me encourage you to check out the Chip Ingram app. You can listen to our most recent series, sign up for daily discipleship, and more. We want to help you grow in your walk with Jesus, and the Chip Ingram app is a great way to immerse yourself in Godly, enriching content. Join us next time as we kick off a brand new three-part interview between Andrew Icardi and our Bible teacher, Chip Ingram. They'll carefully unpack what it really means to live for Jesus and how believers can grow closer to God by following three key steps. That's coming up on Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. Until then, this is Dave Drouie saying thanks for joining us.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-06-25 06:00:35 / 2024-06-25 06:10:18 / 10

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