Writing this, I am 10 days into my second jurisdictional trip to Africa this year. As a young person, and later as a pastor, I heard remarkable stories of God's work through the Church of the Nazarene on that vast continent. Africa's history is replete with strife, oppression, and warfare. Civilizations have come and gone. Today, the people of Africa are in places where poverty and disease are so prevalent that an entire generation is in danger of disappearing. The contrasts are staggering as we find them in gleaming high-rise office buildings, or driving expensive late-model vehicles. Their homes may be the streets, or immaculate mansions.
I stayed in a country referred to as "The Warm Heart of Africa." This nation has seen its share of difficulty. However, the United Nations and other international organizations have invested billions in funds here. I rode on smooth, paved highways carrying traffic from huge trucks to donkey-drawn, two-wheeled carts.
A native of Zimbabwe, Cosmos Mutowa is the coordinator of our work in this country. This well-educated church elder is a second-generation Nazarene minister serving as a missionary to another country in Africa. His father was the first fully trained and educated African ordained under the work of the Church of the Nazarene.
Daniel Mokebe, the field strategy coordinator, is another African. An intense, wise man with a massive vision for his field, Daniel also serves as a Nazarene missionary, away from his people, his family, and his native language.
Following the district assemblies there, I flew to a field where we have work in several nations. We are achieving exciting results, unprecedented in the history of the church. Others are ministering underground, usually at high risk, facing unbelievable opposition and oppression, yet the church is flourishing. These courageous Nazarenes seem to know no fear for they are convinced that Christ and the message of holiness are the hope of Africa.
Here, with 11 African district superintendents, I heard reports of such effectiveness that I could not comprehend what was being accomplished. I also heard hair-raising reports-stories of overwhelming danger and intrigue. Their courage, conviction, and passion for holiness were inspiring as was their determination to complete the Great Commission in this part of Africa, in this generation. At the rate they are moving, it is conceivable that they will accomplish their bold agenda! Eugenio Duarte, regional director for Africa, was with us in that meeting. He is a capable African, deeply loved and highly respected.
Dear Nazarene friend, I looked into the face of "mission" on this trip, and it was not about "receiving" nations. This is the face of the sending church. In Africa, I have met Nazarene missionaries whose homes are in Central America or in South America. I have met Kenyan Nazarene missionaries who are courageous, effective servants of the church in another field and nation, risking life and freedom almost daily while leading their people in planting churches by the hundreds.
Oh, yes, I have also met those courageous folks from Canada and the U.S. who responded to God's call and are giving their lives for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ and holiness evangelism in Africa.
As I reflect on my giving to the World Evangelism Fund across the years, I remember that the gifts have always been sacrificial. I have even borrowed money on an occasion or two so Susan and I could give as we felt led by the Spirit. But as I think back, especially in this setting, I am convinced: I have never given enough! An investment in missions is the wisest, most effective, most satisfying I could make. It pays dividends beyond my wildest imagination.
What I experienced in Africa is happening across the globe--God is working as our people follow the Spirit's leading and the commission given us by the resurrected Lord. We all are going "to all the ethnicities," making disciples, and teaching them to teach others, who will teach others, who will teach others . . .
Jesse C. Middendorf is a general superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene.