North American Friends have been sending missionaries to Africa for the last 117 years. It started with Kenya in 1902, then Burundi in 1934 and Rwanda in 1986. The number of missionary units (singles, married couples, and families) that have gone is upwards of 120. That’s a lot of people!
How many Friends missionary units are in Africa now? As far as I know, only two. One of those serves in Rwanda with EFM. They are Brad, Chelsea, Sarai, and Gideon Carpenter. What does the low number of missionary units in Africa tell us? Has God stopped calling North American Friends to go to this continent? More about that in just a moment.
More often than not Friends missionaries have landed among people who live in poverty. This has certainly been true in Africa. Over these many years missionaries have felt compelled to start schools, orphanages, hospitals, micro-businesses, and churches to minister to the whole person. The constant challenge has been how to help people in such a way that they actually emerge from poverty and become fully alive to God, to one another, to themselves, and to the places the Creator has made for them. In other words, how can they flourish for the glory of God in all the relationships that are part of life? Money, programs, and institutions in themselves are not the answer.
During the last fifteen years or so Rwanda has been a training ground for EFM missionaries and African Friends leaders in what can be called “Whole-Life Discipleship.” The Navigators have been our teachers and coaches in a method called, “Discipling for Development.” We often shorten the name to “D for D.” This approach to making disciples of Jesus Christ has been gathering momentum and is now spreading to Burundi and the Congo. We see God the Father using it to conform people into the image of His Son and to also carry out the Great Commission in Rwanda and beyond.
The short videos and lessons that accompany this letter will give you a good glimpse of whole-life discipleship in action. They also help address the question about whether God is still calling North American Friends to be missionaries in Africa. We at EFM strongly believe that God wants to rebuild a team in Rwanda in order to help train Africans to be missionaries and use tools like D for D to make disciples and plant churches in the surrounding nations. African Friends themselves sense the Lord calling them to carry the Gospel north into the least evangelized areas of the continent. So please take the time to learn more about these things by watching the videos and studying the lessons. If possible, I encourage you to do this with your small group or Sunday school class.
The proceeds from this year’s Easter Offering will go to support EFM’s ministries in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Ecuador, India, Ireland, Mexico, Nepal, Philippines, and Rwanda. We count on your generous giving to help the ministries of discipleship and church planting move forward in these countries.
The Lord bless you and help you enter into the death and resurrections of Jesus Christ during this season.
Your fellow servant in Christ,
Executive Director of EFM
Our commitment to you is that all donations to EFM are used as designated. Once a ministry is fully funded, we follow policy to use funds for the next closest ministry need. 100% of every gift to EFM goes into the project or missionary fund to which it is given.