Sustainable Indigenous Initiatives
I have known Pastor Jean Claude Nsana since 1995. Pastor Nsana has trained hundreds of Christian leaders in his role as the Director of the Bible and Missionary Institute (BMI) of the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville). As President of the Evangelical Baptist Church Association, he also guides church planting efforts across the entire country.
Over the years, Pastor Nsana has studied approaches that advance the gospel in Congo. During a recent visit, he shared with me that the biggest hindrance to the advance of the gospel in the Republic of Congo is the harmful dependency created when national Christian leaders are subsidized by organizations from outside of the country. To deal with this problem, Pastor Nsana believes that Christian leaders in Africa need to be bi-vocational. He models this value.
As a civil servant, he has a salary from the government to meet his needs. This frees up the church association that he serves to use its resources to plant churches. Pastor Nsana propagates the bi-vocational approach at the BMI. Each class of 40 or more students goes through the curriculum in 2 years meeting on Saturdays and Sunday afternoons. Each of the students have a job to earn a living. They do the work of the Lord in their spare time.
New students often come telling of how God has called them to become a pastor believing that pastor Nsana follows the typical model of finding scholarships from outside Congo for the students. He tells them that if God has called them, then God will provide them with a job to pay for their minimal school fees and books. This helps him find candidates that are serious about their calling. Over the next 2 years, Pastor Nsana has decided to not start another BMI class. He has decided to take early retirement to free up time to coach the BMI graduates in their church planting activities in order to see 200 churches planted over that period of time.
North Americans that seek to work alongside of African national leaders like Pastor Nsana, need to understand what starts church planting movements and what stops them. They need to have something to offer besides outside funding. The best practitioners help national leaders use locally available resources to deal with the challenges that they face in the effort to advance the Kingdom of God in Africa.
Diane and I presently live in Senegal where we coordinate the Professionals for Senegal (PFS) initiative, to train and deploy North Americans to function at this level. PFS wants to be part of the African Digital Renaissance. Our associates offer basic IT classes, participate in professional exchanges, teach English or complete the 3 to 6 month “Frontier Internship” to build relationships that result in sustainable indigenous initiatives in Africa.
By: Paul, Serving in Senegal