What If You Could Equip One Million Pastors with the Resources They Need to Make Disciples?
When we go to church on Sunday morning, many of us do not even think about the effort it takes for our pastor to prepare that day’s sermon. It takes time. It takes energy. And most importantly, it takes an education and tools like a Bible and reference materials. However, leading sermons is not all that pastors need to prepare for. On a day-to-day basis, pastors are counseling, evangelizing, and discipling others. Their congregations look to them for spiritual leadership, which is an immense responsibility. Many pastors have their Master’s degree from a formal seminary and have spent years studying the Bible, strengthening their relationship with God in order to prepare them for these pastoral duties. Outside of the western part of the world, most pastors do not have access to these resources…which poses a significant obstacle to spreading the Gospel and establishing healthy churches around the world!
In Africa alone there are an estimated one million pastors – most of whom do not even have a high school education. Many pastors in this region have the desire to preach the Gospel and make disciples in their communities, but do not have the resources needed to do so. These pastors are challenged by poor literacy, low education levels, lack of doctrinally sound discipleship materials, and little formal pastoral training. As a result, they risk losing church members, or teaching them something that’s doctrinally incorrect. For example, prosperity gospel teaching is widespread throughout much of the African continent. In general, the prosperity gospel teaches that the way to attain financial wealth and physical well-being is through prayer, positive speech, and donations to religious organizations. Basically, God will bless you with material wealth and good health if you identify as a Christian.
ICM is working to address this problem by helping to train one million pastors in Africa.
How it Works
ICM has come alongside Judea Harvest Ministries, a partner in South Africa, to develop strategies to address these spiritual training needs. Training facilities in Togo and Burkina Faso have been built where dozens of pastors are being housed and trained in two-week cycles throughout the year.
The training provides:
- One special solar powered audio player with a Bible, Judea Harvest’s “John’s Journey” discipleship material, and ICM’s “Foundations” discipleship material in their language
- Three standard solar powered audio players with Foundations for use in leading small groups
- Step-by-step instruction on how to complete the Foundations course work, and how to share that course work with others
Once training is complete, the newly trained pastors commit to go back to their home countries and work through the Foundations discipleship material with an additional group of pastors within their network. This ensures that the newly trained pastors not only become more familiar with the discipleship material, but they gain more confidence while training others. Then, the additional group of pastors can take what they have learned, apply it to their own sermons and ministries, and establish small groups within their own congregations. ICM has seen this replication strategy accelerate the process of training and equipping pastors as new trainers are constantly being raised up to train others.
ICM also works with indigenous ministries to ensure Foundations is distributed to congregations in their heart language, making it easier for them to build a deeper understanding of the Bible and grow their relationship with Christ. Foundations has been translated into more than 60 languages so far!
Pastor Emmanuel had a childhood full of uncertainty and fear, growing up during a war between Uganda and Tanzania. One day, when he was in school as a young boy, a bomb went off nearby. Scarred by the effects of that event, Emmanuel never returned to school. He decided to become a fisherman, but soon fell into alcoholism and drugs. Eventually, he was diagnosed with lung cancer and HIV, and his health began to rapidly decline. Miraculously, he met some Christians, and he began praying with them. From there, his whole life became transformed. He gave his life to the Lord, and God healed Emmanuel from his ailments. Feeling called to be a pastor, Emmanuel established a small church that quickly grew to about 30 members, but he was not fully prepared to preach the Word of God. When Pastor Emmanuel got his hands on ICM’s Foundations curriculum, he immediately began using it to prepare his sermons and create small groups. These small groups used audio players loaded with the Foundations curriculum to study the Word in their native language, deepening their relationship with Christ. As a result, the congregation told many more people about Jesus, and the church expanded to 260 members! Pastor Emmanuel went on to become a regional coordinator for training leaders and distributing the Foundations curriculum. Through these efforts, he helped train and disciple more than 36,000 others – many of them pastors in his region.
“As Tanzanian Christians, we’re not that deep in the Word of God. But ICM helps strengthen us as disciples.” — Pastor Emmanuel, Tanzania
Karen grew up in Western Zambia, where women are typically viewed as “property.” When women come of age, they are usually sold in exchange for livestock or other goods. Karen was no exception. At 17 years old, her parents tried to marry her off to a man in exchange for livestock. While dating this man, Karen got pregnant, but refused to marry him since she was trying to finish her education, which was a rare opportunity for a young Zambian girl. Karen had her baby without any sort of support from the baby’s father. Shortly after, the baby passed away…and Karen suspected something was terribly wrong. Since she refused to marry her “boyfriend,” he had poisoned the baby with the help of a witch doctor. Karen was absolutely devastated, but she turned to God to help her heal. Now she’s a leader in the local church and ICM is equipping her ministry for young girls in her community so that they can avoid facing a similar experience. And she’s only 19 years old!
Pastor Innocent Zungu is a pastor in South Africa, working to bring the Gospel to the Zulu people. He says that when someone raises their hand to become a Christian and accepts Christ, it does not end there. Evangelizing and training of new believers must continue, otherwise they will end up falling back into sin. This is why a healthy discipleship program within these churches is so important. Thanks to the partnership between Judea Harvest and ICM, Pastor Innocent has audio players with ICM’s Foundations content in his own language, making it easy for him to understand the material. Now, he has the tools he needs to disciple his congregation!
How You Can Help
The stories of Emmanuel, Karen, and Innocent are just a few examples of how God can work miracles in people’s lives and use them to expand His Kingdom. There are hundreds of similar stories like these unfolding every day.
How can you equip a pastor in Africa with the resources they need to disciple their congregations? Join our Groundbreakers community and for $35 a month you can equip up to four indigenous pastors with the tools to effectively lead and nurture new believers in developing nations.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” – Matthew 28:19