How to evangelize Africa
I think that the biggest lie that I have ever heard is that Africa has been evangelized. If you mean that they are overrun with churches, well yes somebody could consider much of Africa to be evangelized. If you feel that a person must trust Jesus only as their Saviour then, I will tell you that it is far from being evangelized. This continent is full of churches that are preaching another Gospel, full of cults, and full of religion. What does Africa need? It doesn’t need another church and another denomination but it needs men that will stand up and preach the Word of God and not traditions of men and religion.
I preached in a certain village two times. The first time I began to preach to three men and before long there were about 50 people. I met a man named Peter who said that he is a member of a Seventh-day Adventist church. His dad is the preacher there. The second time I began to preach along with another young preacher in the market under a mango tree. We must have had a crowd of about 60. Peter was there again. He told me that he noticed that what we preached is significantly different than what every other preacher has preached in his village. He said that they all preach their denomination, their traditions, and their ways but all we preached was Jesus. What I am saying is that I am proud to be a Baptist but being a Baptist doesn’t save me, Jesus does. We need men that will stand upon the Word of God and preach the truth that Jesus Saves.
I have started a village work in a Muslim village called Divo Nord. We are the only church there besides the Catholics. The first service we had in this village the priest came. He asked one of our young men for a Bible after the service because he didn’t have one. How can a man preach the Bible if he doesn’t even have one? This is one of the greatest problems in many of the churches here. Many times the preacher doesn’t have a Bible or if he does the rest of his members don’t so they have to believe what the pastor tells them. I have come to find out that this priest is a drunk and that many of the people including him do drugs in front of the church.
Religion is killing the harvest field. The people are hungry for God and they will accept just about anything. How can they hear the truth if a man of God doesn’t try to preach the Word of God to them? That is why it is urgent that we have a strategy in place to evangelize Africa for Christ. We have many members in our church here in Africa who say that they were members of this or that church but they never heard a clear presentation of the Gospel message. How sad to think that there is so many that God will say depart from me, I never knew you and they will be cast into the lake of fire.
Areas of need here in Africa:
1. Printing ministry-we could use a printing ministry here in Africa. It is sad to think how the communists and Jehovah Witnesses have used the printed page and we don’t use it very effectively. The Africans love printed material. We are in huge need of this.
2. Radio-I have been thinking about how we could use the radio to reach a multitude of people. Many homes even in the poorest of villages have a radio. The country of Somalia is totally closed to missionaries but we could use the radio to reach them. Short Wave would definitely be the key.
3. A team of men that would put their heads together and set plans and goals to reach Africa with the Gospel. To me this is the big one. Many of the missionaries think it is not possible to reach Africa with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Missionaries and nationals have already laughed at me as I begin to speak of evangelizing Africa. This doubt is killing the work of God. We can and I sincerely believe we will, if we get a group of missionaries and nationals together that will be willing to dedicate their lives to the cause of evangelizing Africa and the world. I have had two nationals apologize for laughing at me and they have a burden to do more now than they ever had.
4. Children and youth programs-I believe in church planting missionaries but there are also ways in which a missionary can aid the church planter. My wife is very good at kids programs but this could be a full time ministry as she is limited to where I am and where I go. We just started two kids programs in two different villages and there are at least 30 and sometimes 40 kids who are coming. One of these villages is almost totally Muslim and the other is about half. Most of the African churches that I have seen have none or very poor children’s programs (Sunday school). There is one church that I am thinking of right now that is a big church and has nothing for the kids. If someone would feel called to this ministry, it would be good because many of the African churches need help. My thoughts would be to work with a church for an extended period of time. First the missionary would do everything, but eventually he should weed himself out by training some of the members of these churches on how to do a Sunday school program. I don’t feel that somebody would need to stay at one church but to go from the different churches and help setup their Sunday school programs, vacation Bible schools, etc. I believe the youth and the kids is a way to reach many Muslims with the Gospel. We have seen this to be very effective and I think this could be even more effective if somebody would dedicate his or her entire time to this.
5. Discipleship programs-We are in need of materials and ways to ground the members of our churches. With so much false teaching going around we need to make sure that our people know what the Bible says. I read a book that came from an independent Baptist. In the 1950s he came to Africa for 3 to 4 months to conduct evangelism campaigns. He said that they would go from one area to another. They would send people to all the villages close to there and invite them to the meetings. He said that many nights they would have 7,000 and even 10,000 people come to the meetings with hundreds coming to accept Jesus. This is great but the problem was that they never discipled these people. Then when other denominations and cults come in they accepted it as they now had a desire for the things of God.
6. Bible Institutes-This is one area that I have seen to be a little weak here in Africa. Not to say that there aren’t Bible Institutes because there are, but the manner that some of them are conducted is not going to train a group of men to reach our generation with the Gospel. I have seen many Bible Institutes who are teaching men knowledge (which is good) but they are not teaching the men how to apply this knowledge. Much training has to be outside of the classroom, and I am not seeing this. Life on life training is the key to get a group of men trained and on fire for the Lord.
How to evangelize the Muslims in Africa
Why Africa? The biggest lie going around these days is that Africa has been evangelized. Well they have been evangelized but not with the truth of Jesus Christ. Why Muslims? Considering that many of the African states are currently controlled and are being overrun with Muslims shows us the necessity of evangelizing them with the Gospel. In 1975, the Muslims controlled 52% of Africa. I am sure that it is higher now.
There is a great reason why I am writing this paper. Certainly not because I am special or I know much, but because God has given me a love for the Muslim people, and I want them to know and accept the truth. I didn’t set out to work with or just evangelize the Muslims but my heart is sad for those who are chained to a religion that will lead them to hell. I said that in 1975, 52% of Africa was controlled by the Muslims. Also in 1975 there were 16,000 missionaries to Africa but only 250 who were engaged in a ministry with the Muslims. In 1975, only 1.5% of all the missionaries to Africa were trying to reach the Muslims when they made over half of the population. Also in 1975 there were more missionaries trying to reach the Eskimos in Alaska than trying to reach the Muslims in the entire world with the only message that saves. In the year 1900 there were 150 million Muslims in the world. In 1993 there were about 850 million. Today I believe they number about 1 billion. It takes the world about 56 years to double in population but it only takes the Muslims 27 years to double. They double in population in less than half the time it takes the rest of the world. The program Operation World stated that only 6% of all the missionaries in the world works with Muslims, when they make up over 1/3 of all non-Christians.
From what I have heard, the Muslims wish to make all of West Africa one Islamic state. The problem is that they don’t control every country and I think that is one of the reasons why we are in a civil war here in the Ivory Coast. If they can control this country the rest of West Africa will fall with it. There strategy is similar to the way the Catholics and Rome controlled everyone, by force even if death is required and of course all this is done in the name of God. I learn more and more everyday here in Africa, so I am trying to figure out how to best stop this Muslim movement. The best way of course is to win them to Jesus Christ the only true and living God.
The major problem with the independent Baptist missionaries here in Africa is that they all work by themselves. Each missionary is working hard for the Lord but has their little work that will not effectively evangelize Africa. Our greatest strength is being an independent Baptist but our greatest weakness is being an independent Baptist. What I mean is that God has ordained local churches to be independent in the sense that they are self-supporting, self-governing, and self-propagating. This is the plan of God. He doesn’t want a convention to control every church but I feel that we have taken it to an extreme. Missionaries come together to have a meal or fellowship and never talk about or form plans on how to reach the world for Christ. I have tried to talk with many missionaries concerning ministry and they will always get off the subject. They would rather work by themselves, do their own thing and get all the glory. I know that we don’t have to work in one town or form a compound (which I wouldn’t do anyway) but nobody to my knowledge has formed a strategy on how to win or evangelize Africa. I feel that this in what God has me here for but we need men that will be able to put their heads together and form plans and strategies on how to evangelize this great continent.
The work is hard
I know a missionary that was a missionary to Senegal for 20 years. In talking with him, I believe that he was a hard worker. He told me that he only won 49 people to Christ in 20 years. Many of the Muslims would come up to him and tell him that they knew what he had told them was the truth but because of family and fear, they would not make a decision for Christ. He said that those that did were persecuted badly. Some had to flee for their lives or live with much persecution.
That happens here also. One of my missionary friends told me that one of his young preacher boys was a former Muslim. The missionary, Tim Zuck, was handing out tracts in his town. He was handing it to one young Muslim man and this man rejected it. Bro. Zuck told him that it was free and it is not right to refuse a gift, so he took it. Upon entering in the house he threw the tract on the table. His Muslim cousin picked it up, read it and the tract pricked his heart. He decided to come to church. The preaching of the Word of God convicted him of his sins and he accepted Jesus as His Saviour. Since that time God has called this young man to preach and he is in a Bible Institute. His family has been trying to find a way to kill him ever since he accepted Christ. He was living at his uncle’s house. Family members would come and stay at the house and say things like, “Sometimes people go to sleep and never wake up,” and “Sometimes people disappear in the night.” The family called a family meeting and wanted him to go. He wanted to go to be a witness but Bro. Zuck advised him not to, as it was a setup to kill him. Later, there was another setup. Normally after church, he walks directly into his room but on this particular night he waited outside for his friend to come. Upon entering his room a poisonous snake bit him. We believe that his family members put the snake in the room. He is a little crippled and would have lain there, left by his family to die, if he wouldn’t have waited for his friend to enter with him. His friend carried him to the hospital where he could be properly treated. Another time he had appendicitis. He saved enough money and had the operation. After the operation he didn’t have enough money for the antibiotics. He went to his family and they would not even give a penny to help. They were going to let him die. Finally he went and asked the missionary to help (he was trying to avoid asking the missionary for help). As you can see there is a lot of persecution even in this country that is basically a neutral country. What I mean by that is that this country is probably half Muslim/half Christian. That of course is only in statistics.
I heard also about a missionary that has worked in the country of Niger. I am not sure all of the details but he has been there about 30 years or more. The missionary that was talking about him told me that he is one of the hardest workers he knows. He does not sit at home but each day he is talking with the people sharing the good news of Jesus, but it is the same thing. They see the truth but because of fear they reject it. After many years this missionary has lead Muslims to the Lord but not many.
The country of Nigeria is currently in a mess. One Muslim tribe has been killing Christians for years but in the past few months this has escalated. There was a group of 49 people praying. 400 or so Muslims invaded the church. They forced the Christians to lay face down on the ground and then began to chop and mutilate them with axes and machetes. I talked with a Southern Baptist director who lives in Nigeria the other day. He told me that the death rate in the last few months has been 1,500 and that 14 of their churches have been destroyed. This is a tragedy but he told me he as an American has never felt threatened or in danger.
Just the other day, I was visiting a new village. We sat down with a Muslim man and his wife. We told him who we are. He said that we are the same thing. We believe in the same God. Then 30 sec. later he leaned over and said real softly, “Your pathway is direct or straight to heaven.” He then told us that his pathway goes every which direction but never leads anywhere. We gave him the Gospel and he and his wife nodded and agreed with everything we said. At the end though he told us that we gave him the truth but he wasn’t ready to accept it. God help us to give these people the truth and help them to accept it.
I will never say that God can’t create a huge work amongst the Muslims because I know that with God all things are possible. Our God is a miracle working God. He wants the Muslims to turn from their false religion and come to Christ, but from my experience and from what others have experienced in these countries the work is slow, difficult, and hard. I do praise God for those who accept him as Lord and Saviour because He died for each and every one of them. Does this mean that we can’t have a big work in Africa? One that touches many countries? One in which many Muslims confess Christ as their Saviour? Absolutely not! This means that we need men and women that will dedicate their lives to these people. Men that aren’t afraid to work. Men that are full of compassion. Men that will make up their minds that they are going to get the job done no matter the cost.
One of the missionaries here has sent a national missionary to the country of Burkina Faso. The work is slow but from what I have heard, he is doing a tremendous job. I don’t know of any other independent Baptist missionaries in the country of Burkina Faso, which has over 10 million people. “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few.”
As my experience, a Muslim normally will not come to Christ even after months of talking with him. Sometimes it takes 6 months and I have seen were it takes as long as 2 years or more. Some missionaries will use this as an excuse. I have heard that we can’t do it here like they do it in other places. I feel that, even though it can be tough to win Muslims this is not the problem we are having. The problem we are having is that nobody has formulated plans, goals and strategies on how to reach the Muslims for Christ. If a business doesn’t have a plan it goes bankrupt. If a Church doesn’t have a plan it is just an average church. If a missionary doesn’t have a plan, he will be just an average missionary. I don’t want to be average because my God is not average.
Plans to reach Africa and the Muslims
How can we evangelize the Muslims countries in Africa, especially in the middle to North of Africa? As I said, it is very difficult for a missionary in a totally Muslim country. If he is permitted to be there, which in some countries they are not, it would be difficult to win a massive group.
I currently live in neural country, which means it is half Muslim/half Christian. This makes it a little easier but it is still not easy to win them. I have come up with some options that I believe can really help us to evangelize these Muslims countries for Jesus.
1. Live in a neutral country like the Ivory Coast. One that is not totally Muslim. A country that is totally Muslim is very, very difficult. To just one day go to a Muslim country by yourself would be difficult, not impossible, but difficult. To be in one of the neutral countries you are freer to witness and if somebody accepts Christ they might not be persecuted as much. They would be freer to grow in faith. Then after you win them, the next stage is to train them, let God call them and send them to some of the other countries that are totally Muslim. There are countries that are impossible for us (the white man) to go into, but an African can. I think that this can be very effective. We have a couple of young men who are called to preach, they were former Muslims and they would like to go back to some of the countries that their fathers are from. Some of these are the totally Muslim countries.
2. Come to one of these neutral countries (which are full of Muslim villages and in every town there are Muslim neighborhoods) and learn about their ways and customs. After a few years, you would have the knowledge and skills to go to a more Muslim dominated country. For instance, if you came here and worked with us for a few years, this would be easier because you could work along some of the young preachers that were former Muslims and of course the missionary would be able to teach you many things. I have been speaking in French now for almost 2 years and I still sometimes have to ask the other missionary what was said. The young preacher would be willing to give you their time. You could go on visitation with them and learn their customs here. It is much easier to learn a custom if you have somebody that is willing to explain it to you. If you wanted you could even learn one of the main Muslim languages from them. I would personally recommend learning French first, as most of these African/Muslim countries have French as their official language. Then it would be valuable to learn the tribal language. To just arrive in a totally Muslim country would be difficult to get somebody to work with you and teach you their language and customs. There is the possibility that in doing this, you could develop a friendship with one of these young men and they could go with you to one of the Muslim countries.
3. If you can find a missionary already in a Muslim country (I personally don’t know many fundamentalists in these countries) that can help you and you felt that God wanted you there, this would be another option. Also, in a few years we will be ready to send some of our young men to these countries and you could work with them from the start. This would give you somebody that would know the ins and outs. This of course will give you a Christian brother and that helps with fellowship and the biggest plus is the help in the work. He would already be trained.
How to evangelize a Muslim
From what I have been told and what I have experienced in dealing with the Muslims is that the missionary will have to make sure God is with him. That means that each time you speak, you need let the Holy Spirit speak through you. Saying something at the wrong time can completely stop and kill the opportunity to witness to them, but at the same time, it is important to present the truth of the Word of God at the right time.
I will attempt to give some helpful hints on how to win Muslims to Jesus, from what I have experienced, from what I have learned from other missionaries and other former Muslims that have been saved by the grace of God. It will almost never happen the first time you talk with them. Actually you have to be very careful (that would be hard for some people I know) in what you say or you might not get another chance to talk with them. Here is a list of some things that will help:
1. Learn and respect how they live. The Africans have many customs and it really touches their hearts when you learn how to fit in. For instance I always watch what they do. I usually let one of the preacher boys go first into their yards and I do what they do. They shake hands a certain way and as they shake hands they do a semi-bow which is a sign of respect. I usually don’t understand what is going on but I am always watching what the others do and try to do the same. In the Northern part of Togo it is very rude and very offensive to cross your legs or show the bottom of your feet. Also never shake or eat with your left hand, as that is offensive because that is their dirty hand.
2. By doing those things in #1, will many times start or lead to the most important thing in winning a Muslim, friendship. The Muslims will not be won by one visit and by strangers. You have to develop a friendship with them. It will not be a friendship that is I will see you once in a blue moon type of friendship, either. By respecting what they do I have made many Muslim friends. Many missionaries do not care to create a friendship and this is what hinders their ministries.
3. When God permits, present the truth. I would not recommend saying that Mohammed is a liar the first time you talk with them as that will be the end of the conversation, but present Jesus to them and show them that the Bible is the Word of God. They use and believe much of the Old Testament, and you can use that to present Jesus. They also believe that Jesus was a good man. You will need to learn what to say and when to say it. Do not attack what they believe at the beginning but plant the seed of the Word of God in their heart.
4. Show them a changed life. A month and a half ago, a young man named Wedson and I were visiting is his village. He was a Muslim, is now called to preach, in the Bible Institute, and on fire for the Lord. He was able to win his twin brother to the Lord about 6 months ago after talking with him for over two years. As we were visiting, we came across 7 young Muslims men (20-30 years old). We sat down and did the customary things. I then passed out tracts to each one and continued to explain why we were there. The leader of the group collected all the tracts and gave them back except for his. Then Wedson began to preach and tell them what God had done in his life. After 20 minutes, one of the men spoke up, (interrupting Wedson) and said he wanted those tracts and then all the rest of the young men said they wanted them too. Well, I preached for a few minutes after that and then we left. They were all amazed because of the change in Wedson’s life. The other night one of the young men in the group stopped by the church and talked with Wedson’s brother and said that he knew we are telling him the truth and that he is coming to church Sunday.
Also I have been having Bible studies with the father of Wedson for a few months. After I get done, he basically says that we believe the same thing. One day God put on my heart to talk about the change that has happened in the lives of his sons. He told me that he thought that one of them would be in jail by now because of the drugs and other things that he had started. When the son trusted Christ, he left drugs and everything else that he was in to follow Jesus. When I told his father about the change, he agreed with me. The son told me that he knew that Jesus was God because while he was a Muslim he was always in trouble and his life was nothing but bad but when he trusted Christ his life changed. I told his father this. The father told me for the first time that what I believe is the truth. He has 4 wives and 22 kids. He said that he would permit any of them to leave Islam to follow Jesus but that he personally wasn’t ready yet.
5. The question that I always ask after preaching to them is, “If you die today will you go to heaven?” A Muslim will say I hope, I want to, or they will say only God knows. I look them start in the eye and say that if I get sick today and die tonight I will go to live with my Saviour for eternity. This always seems to convict their hearts.
As I stated we need some young men that will not be afraid to come over here, work hard and get their hands dirty. This field is not a field for an average missionary. The work can be done and by the grace of God will be done. Do you want to see God move in unbelievable ways? Do you want to do something that few other missionaries have ever done? I have been told that this great continent is evangelized except for the Muslims. The Muslims are a forgotten people. In 2002, a civil war started in the Ivory Coast. We were told we needed to leave and so we went back to America for a few months. I was asked by a member of my home church, “Are you planning on going back?” I said of course I was. He then told me that I should forget about the Muslims and look for a different field. I then asked him, “If I don’t go, who will? Did Jesus die for them?” He had no response. I know that the Muslims are a people that are behind much if not most of the conflict in the World today. Sure they have done evil things in the past to Americans and I am positive that it will not stop but I believe that Jesus died for each and everyone of them and they have the same right to hear as I heard many years ago that Jesus loves you and He is the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Jesus.