January 1, 2019
Written by Spanky Rouse
I have the privilege of connecting with partners here in South Africa as the partnership coordinator for East Mountain. Our mission at East Mountain is to develop Christian leaders for global missional service, so my day job consists of connecting people and organizations for kingdom purposes. If you know me, then you know that I love this kind of work.
Recently, I attended a breakfast with one of our partners and one of the top evangelical schools in Africa for training pastors and church leaders, George Whitfield College. GWC is training and preparing Africans from across the continent to lead the church with great biblical clarity. East Mountain is thrilled that several of our former residents and interns are currently studying at GWC.
During our breakfast, a professor passionately shared with us statistics on the explosion of Christianity on the continent of Africa. As I listened, I was reminded just how important our mission is for discipleship and training of young African Christian leaders! Here are some surprising stats:
In 1900, 9 million Christians were estimated to be from Africa
In 2000, 380 million African Christians (a 4000% growth!)
In 2025 there is projected to be 700 million Christians in Africa! Gordon Conwell
Today, 1 in 4 Christians are African and in the next 50 years it will be 1 in 3. Africa will soon be the centre for worldwide Christianity.
Why is the church growing so fast?
Africans might be the best evangelists. Why? From my observations, they are for the most part a communal society, passionate communicators, and unashamed of their beliefs - beliefs in God or beliefs in soccer, it doesn't matter. Whatever they love and hold close, they will passionately and unashamedly let you know.
Also, mission efforts over the past 100 years have been focused on evangelism. This isn't a negative, but it isn't complete in fulfilling the Gospel. We need to lead people to Jesus and then walk with them through life to help them grow in their relationship and understanding of Jesus and the Bible.
What issues might come out of the rapid growth of Christianity?
Let me give you a real-life scenario that is taking place today as you read this and takes place every day across Africa. I think it will clearly demonstrate the need for discipleship and leadership development.
A young man heads to the big city to get a job so he can take care of his family. While in the city, someone passionately, unashamedly, and honestly shares the good news of Jesus with him while he is in the taxi. The man returns to his village and begins to share with others the love of Jesus and all that he has been reading in the Bible. After just a few months, there are now 100 people in his village that have put their faith in Jesus. They want to gather weekly for fellowship and learn more about the Bible. This is a good size church in an African village. Now the questions arise...
Who is going to lead this church?
Who is going to teach the Bible accurately?
Who is going to disciple all of these people into strong, growing, Bible-believing Christ followers?
The young man that just a few months ago became a Christian himself but still doesn't understand the much of the Bible, has never been discipled, and has never led a group of people?
The problem with this scenario is exactly what you can imagine. No one has ever taught him about the Bible or how to read it. No one has ever discipled him and showed him what a godly man looks like. No one has ever warned him against false teaching. He has grown up with tribalism and animism ingrained into his thinking. It will not be easy for him to clearly differentiate from correct teaching and corrupt teaching.
East Mountain seeks to address this real need in Africa for more trained Christian leaders for the rapidly growing church. We develop emerging leaders in the areas of Biblical knowledge, practical ministry and leadership skills, as well as spiritual life disciplines in an intentional multicultural environment. We commit ourselves to this holistic training so leaders gain what they truly need to in order to fulfil the mission of reaching the continent with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and discipling believers to maturity in Christ. This is what East Mountain strives to achieve. That is our hope for what we do, and we believe this is God's call on our family for this season.