I don't know about you, but I think that for me and many times for others, Africa is one of the first names that comes to mind as the iconic "mission field". I have found that through every study I have done of different mission fields, so many of my pre-conceptions have been shattered and replaced with true knowledge that better educates and burdens my heart for these places. Again, in so many hearts, Africa is the country over-flowing with missionaries and converts. Which in some places is true but I was surprised as I study to find the great need in Africa.
For some strange reason, it seems as people think of most of the world, they think of each country as an individual mission field. But for some reason, it seems for many as we look at Africa, we think of it as one big country. And if I heard that one country had 400 some missionaries, I would think it had plenty of missionaries. But when we stop and realize that the continent of Africa is a place with over 700 million people, 54 countries and 400 missionaries, the Need begins to shine through pretty quickly. It was a little difficult to find up to date statistics. But to the best of my ability it appears at least 15 countries in Africa have no gospel preaching missionary at all. 15 countries!!! That's not evangelized my friend. Many of those countries lack a gospel witness because of either violent Muslim areas or Political instability.
I was able to interview two different ladies that are serving in Africa; the Garcia's in Zambia and the Shelby's in Kenya. It was a blessing to hear these ladies share their stories, ministry and heart. It continued to amaze me how not only was Africa different than I imagined but also how different each area can be from each other. The struggles and experiences vary but both report great work being done for the Lord.
In Kenya, it was said that the religion is predominantly anamism and witchcraft. Even though 47% claim a Protestant faith it is very much intermingled with the religion of the culture. Churches and pastors even consult with the witch doctors on matters of their church. In Zambia, it is reported that the entire country is legally, in the constitution, stated to be a Christian religion. However, this is not based on the true gospel. So it has sewn a confidence in the people of a faith they don't possess. For any of those who have worked with people who have been told they are a Christian under un-biblical council know that it breeds a confusion and pride that is hard to combat. It can definitely cause difficulty in witnessing but the Lord definitely still does miraculous work when faithful witness' consistently proclaim the truth.
There is 48 million plus people in Kenya with 20 or less missionaries. That's a whole country with only 20 missionaries sewing the seed. Zambia is a country of approximately 18 million with 10 or less missionaries. Mrs. Tonya Shelby shared with me that in Kenya it usually takes a couple of months to see someone trust Christ but they are also able to share the gospel through door to door visitation and see people trust Christ. What a blessing to see the acceptance these people have for the gospel. They have a number of ministries they use to reach out to the people there; soulwinning, neighborhood bible class, evangelistic meetings in the market, orphan feeding ministries , an orphan home, a prison ministry, and Christmas treats handed out with Gospel tracts.
The Lord has greatly used the Shelby family through many years of ministry to reach hundreds of people and train many nationals and send out others to do the same, including starting 28 churches. They combat a religion that teaches the people to fear their dead ancestors. That their dead ancestors have the power to bring blessings or cursing son their lives. This brings a great burden of fear that causes them to follow traditions to appease these deceased relatives. What an amazing blessing to see them freed from this blindness. They have ministered among two very different people groups in their time there. One that is very open to them as outsiders but face extreme poverty and very short life expectancies, in some places only 35 years. What a ticking clock to get them the truth. On the other side, they minister to another group that is very clannish and it took them two terms to gain their trust so that they could share the gospel with them. What a miracle to see God's hand open once closed doors.
In Zambia, Mrs. Paolo Garcia tells me about how they have zealously been sharing the gospel who all will listen. These people are steeped in false Christianity and don't see themselves as sinners but as victims to evil spirits who cause the sin. It is vital to the choice, to trust Christ for salvation to see our own sin and inability to deserve or earn salvation on our own and our great need for the Saviouer. She shared how in generally it takes 12-18 months to see someone trust Christ there and that they as well as their church people make witnessing an active part of their everyday life to share the gospel with family, friends, and strangers. I love to see not only soul- searching ministries but also the value of becoming not just someone who attends soul-winning but a witnesser everywhere you go and through all that you do. From living in a country where it also took years to see fruit, I remember how we began to pray for God to show us every way we could possibly witnessing through any avenue possible and how he did time and time again. Mrs. Garcia is also able to minister in an orphan ministry there.
She also shared with me a unique blessing they have. You see, the Garcia family are missionaries from Mexico. So not only do they get to share the gospel with a country who deeply needs it but also they are able to help introduce missions to a country that is in the beginning stages of sending out missionaries to fulfill the Great Commission world wide. What an honor and privilege to help your home country take the next step in reaching the World for Christ. They are able to visit a lot of churches in Mexico that have never before given to Missions and encourage them to make that commitment.
I'm continuously blessed to meet and spend time with such great ladies. Every time without exception, my eyes are opened to unknown needs and amazing blessings. I sure love our Lord. He opens doors all over this great globe for ALL to hear the great message of His Son. Please take the time to pray for this in Africa today and for those serving there and for the un-evangelized areas that still need the Truth.