We are used to hearing bad news out of Africa
Poverty, sickness, natural disaster and corruption seem to be the order of the day. In our preparation for the launch of the church planting initiative in Madagascar it was no different. A week before our departure the Island was hit by a cyclone and many died in the flooding it caused. Furthermore, reports started coming out of an outbreak of the Plague!
Antananarivo, or Tana, is an amazing city. Every flat section is covered in rice paddies (or flooded by the cyclone) and the hills are covered with tightly packed buildings. The narrow, winding streets are filled with people shopping from the colourful stalls that line the streets. The traffic is overwhelming. The city is home to 2.5 million people. Madagascar has a population of about twenty three million inhabitants and is the fourth poorest nation on the planet. Yet, Madagascar is ready to see an incredible harvest.
Some of the leaders from the south could not get through to the training because of the cyclone damage, but twenty two made it. Our training manuals had already been translated into Malagasy and were printed and waiting for us when we arrived. Past. Mac Hayward led devotions and will continue the training in Madagascar in the future.
Our first day focused on evangelism training and the second on church planting. As usual, Raymond Lombard shared the Heart of Man chart, after which the leaders had to practice the presentation on one another. When the time came for the leaders to go out on the streets to share the Gospel there was a definite resistance. Pastors are often not the most enthusiastic evangelists! After overcoming their objections and fears, the groups slowly went out into the neighbourhood.
The next morning, after devotions it was time for feedback. A different attitude was palpable. With incredible excitement each group reported how many times they had shared the gospel, how many had heard their message and how many people had responded and accepted Christ as Saviour. Usually at these training sessions we find an average of between 45% and 52% of the hearers respond positively. Here the response was over 65%. Suddenly these leaders saw the potential. One went home that evening and tested it againﾠ– he went out and shared with seven people. Five gave their lives to the Lord. This set the scene for the church planting training.
The group we worked with currently have 98 churches across the Island. Our challenge was to double this in the next year and then to continue doubling it thereafter. As we dreamt together and planned out the strategy I saw a growing excitement and enthusiasm. I look forward to working with these men of God as they strategically and systematically plant churches in every village, neighbourhood and town in Madagascar. Pray for them. Raymond and Mac will be returning in about three months and then every six months for the next three years. The Hub Leaders will be trained in the Bible School curriculum so that a pastor can be trained for every new church.
Good things are coming out of Africa too ...