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95% of the people of Rwanda regard themselves as Christians, yet the country descended into genocidal chaos . . .

BWA General Secretary Neville Callam confers with translator Koffi Soke Kpomgbe of Togo, during the Bread of Life conference in Lagos, Nigeria, in November

The call to reach out and seek the lost, the least, the last and the left out is not optional. pay keen attention to the evangelism mandate of Mark 16:16, the discipleship mandate of Matthew 28:19-20, the missiological mandate of John 17:18, and the global mandate of Acts 1:8. Christians and churches, he said, should commit themselves to evangelism, the proclamation of the good news of the kingdom of God; to discipleship, teaching, baptizing and nurturing new believers in the ways of the kingdom; to serving people in need through love and compassion; and to justice, seeking to transform unjust structures in society. The church, Dunn declared, should remember that “the call to reach out and seek the lost, the least, the last and the left out is not optional.” Eron Henry, who has responsibility for BWA Communications, guided participants to examine various models in mission and evangelism used by various Baptist groups around the world. Ukraine adopted an integrated approach where congregations, associations, and the national union all have a similar structure and program that draw on, and feed into each other. Cuba’s congregations divide into zones, which are then divided into cells, and cells grow and multiply until a new church is created in that zone out of the growth of cells. The European Baptist Federation partners with unions and local churches through its Indigenous Mission Project to identify and place indigenous missionaries to plant churches. One model that seems to work well, according to Henry, is “enabling people to lift their social standards and improve their living conditions, while preaching the Gospel to them.” He identified “the provision of education and healthcare by building schools, hospitals and health clinics, and by providing other social amenities,” as “a most effective way to reach marginalized groups.”

Henry said that living an exemplary Christian lifestyle is particularly effective in reaching peoples of other faith traditions – such as Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and adherents of traditional religions – “especially the way Christians treat others who are not of their own household or family with love, kindness and mercy.”

Delegates at the conference were encouraged to share models of mission and evangelism used in their own contexts and to determine, where possible and appropriate, if any of the seven models that Henry shared were applicable in theirs. In a statement issued at the close of the conference, delegates expressed gratitude for the special consideration given to Francophone Africa, which does not always feel included. “We have been edified by the various presentations,” the statement read.

The delegates implored the BWA to help “strengthen the capacity of leaders on new approaches or methods relating to the work of mission and evangelism; to facilitate partnership relations between churches of the West and those of Africa; and to facilitate the financing of evangelization like social and development projects.” The BOL conference preceded the start of the 7th Assembly of the All Africa Baptist Fellowship, which was held from November 16-20.


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