Monday, October 13, 2014

Its Ghana! and Egypt!

If you've been hanging out with us long enough, you might remember way back in January 2009 that Bob wrote a post called, "Its Ghana!" (here), after the decision came for where God was leading us after Liberia.  It was the last post in the "Reeds In Liberia" blog, after which Bob developed the "Reeds In the Wind" blog.

As you know the pilot project in Kenya is drawing to a close and the work is moving forward very well by nationals in several parts of Kenya.  Our philosophy has always been to get out of the way once the work is strong enough to be continued by nationals, while giving support and encouragement as needed.  That strategy worked well in both Liberia and Ghana where the work continues with strength and relationships continue.  And now that time is drawing nigh in Kenya. 

As I have also mentioned, the pilot project was leading us to see if Church-based Business as Mission is something that will work to develop business leaders spiritually and economically, as well as build the church numerically and financially.  It is clear from the work in Kenya that the answer to this is an emphatic yes.  The final surveys have not yet been done and they will give us the actual statistics but all observations and narrative reports are positively conclusive.  Therefore the challenge now before us is to develop materials for the Global Church and begin to widen the work beyond Kenya. 

When I attended the International Council for ICM in Ghana last month, one of the agenda items was to determine which countries would be next.  There have been a number of requests from various African countries but our goal was to determine which countries had the partnership potential and infrastructure through ICM and our partners (like the Christian Reformed World Missions and Partners Worldwide Affiliates) to make this work effective.  An additional aspect we considered was to work in a country that is not considered "Christian" to see the response of the Church in such a context.  After considerations, conversations and consultation (and a lot of prayer), we have decided to start in Ghana and Egypt in 2015.

Rev. Philip Tutu (L) and Rev. Stephen Mairori (R)
Ghana has a strong ICM presence, with ICM Country Director Rev. Philip Tutu, who has been a friend and colleague since 2010.  Additionally, Hopeline Institute is the organization with which I worked for the three years we were in Ghana.  The director, Fanny Atta-Peters is a dear friend and colleague who has wanted Church-based Business as Mission in Ghana since the idea has been in its infancy.  This work is part of her desire, vision and on-going prayers.

Egypt is not one of the formal ICM countries but ICM has been doing work in Egypt for a number of years, through the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo (ETSC) and the Middle East Leadership Training Institute (MELTI).  The Christian Reformed World Missions is also doing work in Egypt through ETSC.  Egypt has been on my heart ever since the Business as Mission Congress in Thailand in which three Egyptian businessmen asked with earnestness for support and help in doing business as mission.  Additionally, Egypt would be a context very different from Kenya, Liberia, and Ghana, all of which are considered Christian countries. This would test this program in a different way; additionally, it will require this work to be translated into Arabic.

The goal will be to develop this program, (book, manual, and possibly video series) during the first few months of 2015 and then launch Discipling Marketplace Leaders in both Egypt and Ghana beginning in June.  I will continue to travel to Kenya as well, being there in both March and October of next year to teach at the seminary.

The big change is that no longer will I live in these countries for extended periods of time.  This work has to grow beyond me if we want to reach the Global Church.  It is not efficient for me to live for two-three years in each country. This is why it is important to develop materials that Church leaders can take and run with.  I will be based in Grand Rapids and travel out to teach and train Church leaders in the respective areas.

Please continue to pray for this work moving forwards.  Current funds are almost depleted and there are still a number of critical projects to complete this year.  We also need to grow our resources so that we can begin in these two new countries next year.  Please pray with us for God to send partners through the body of Christ who believe that reclaiming the marketplace is a valuable effort for building the Church and for poverty alleviation!