We recently talked with Peter Thomas, field director of Africa, to find out what God is doing in his area. (Excerpts of this interview originally appeared in Evangel Magazine.)
Give an overview of what God is currently doing in your area.
Our emphasis for the last few years has been, among others, on strategic church planting throughout Africa. At the just-ended Africa General Council in Zambia, Amane Mamathe, overseer of Chad, reported a tremendous growth of over 194 new congregations within 2.5 years due to this emphasis. This is also the result of the strong effort of the Firewall Initiative coordinated by Raymond Lombard. Our leaders and pastors are active in evangelism and church planting. Our prayer coordinator for Africa, Christopher Sibale, has brought new emphasis on intercession and fasting accompanying the outreach efforts into spiritually challenging areas. We are seeing God move in measures not seen before.
What is the spiritual climate like?
The reports we receive are twofold. While there is a true spiritual awakening in many of our countries, we also encounter challenges. There is a general great openness for the gospel in most Sub-Saharan countries, and a response to the gospel message which in some areas is phenomenal. Yet some of our leaders work in situations where they take great personal risks as they spread the gospel. It is especially in these areas that God is manifesting Himself with wonders and miracles, thereby opening hearts for the message of Jesus. New converts are added to the church continuously.
How has Church of God World Missions helped the people and ministries of your field area?
In Africa we are blessed with two Send the Light ministry centers, one in Lomé, Togo and the other in Lusaka, Zambia. We believe for these centers to become beacons of His light and salvation.
During the recent Cyclone Idai and Cyclone Kenneth in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe, World Missions Director David Griffis reacted so promptly with relief funds so that our teams were able to attend to our brothers and sisters with goods within days. The tangible and fast response and care has opened hearts for the gospel.
What are some current needs that you see?
There are spiritual needs which need to be addressed in an African context. There is also the need for more trained workers for the harvest. One of our most pressing personnel needs is finding a missionary educator to serve as director of our B.A college in Lusaka.
Describe a favorite moment or story that stands out to you as you have encountered the work of God in your area.
The invasion of the countries in the Sahel Zone with the gospel, and the supernatural manifestations of God’s Spirit confirming the preaching of His word in these countries [stand out]. The serious spiritual inroads being made into the Muslim strongholds throughout Africa (some countries with populations of 98% being Muslims) is something not witnessed before. This is one of the most exciting and encouraging developments.