“Thank you for praying for the church planting project in the rainforest of Madagascar,” says Karl, OC Southern Africa Field Director. “From the original 45 leaders who were trained in August 2010, we are now praising the Lord that over 2,200 new disciple-making churches have been planted.”
Many of these small churches of new believers are among unreached people groups. Over four generations of church planters have been raised up to saturate the central region of the rainforest with disciple-making groups. The goal of the project is to trust God to plant 6,000 new churches across the rainforest region of Madagascar by 2016. Karl says, “We are humbled and grateful for the doors the Lord has opened so far!”
How is this work being done?
About 350 church planters have been trained and are divided in seven clusters. Each cluster has a Coordinator and is focused on reaching a specific region of the rainforest. Church planting teams of 2-4 leaders are sent out from each cluster to reach neighboring villages. They ride bicycles, take 4×4 vehicles or even walk for many days to arrive at these remote communities. Many are met with suspicion, threats or even violence along the way. They are following the instructions that Jesus gave the 72 from Luke 10. They enter a village and prayerfully look for the Person of Peace whom God has already prepared.
Through prayer, compassion ministry, and sharing the Good News of Christ, they build relationships with this person of influence. This individual is usually the chief or witch doctor of the village. Often times, through dramatic circumstances, the Person of Peace comes to faith in Christ. A simple Bible discussion group is started with this leader and his family. Solar-powered audio Bibles in the Malagasy language are used as many people are illiterate. They are challenged to immediately obey what they have learned from the scripture. The group quickly begins to grow, more people are brought to Christ and other groups are formed. Within months, the entire village in impacted by the transforming power of the gospel!
Mentoring and train the trainer
Karl has been mentoring Dinah, who serves as the project Co-coordinator. He is from Madagascar and originally shared the church planting need and vision with Karl back in 2008. The current strategy is to coach the seven cluster Coordinators to multiply more church planting teams and advance deeper into the rainforest. Dinah travels into the rainforest about 3 times a year to meet with each cluster to review the progress, provide additional training, and encourage them in the mission. Karl also shares the vision and provides training for other denominations, ministries and missionaries to accelerate the movement.
“We are also encouraging the development of sustainable business projects in the rainforest to help support the church planting teams,” says Karl. “Rice is the staple food in the country. Several rice storage projects have been started to sell rice in the off-season. These ‘rice silos’ will also be a blessing to the villages, as well as the church planters. We hope these will serve as models for other simple business opportunities. Thank you for your faithful prayers and support in the gospel! We are grateful for your partnership in the Lord’s mission in Southern Africa.”
Focus for prayer
- Effective coaching of group leaders to multiply church planting teams in their region.
- Open doors to the gospel and protection for the church planting teams.
- Financial provision for church planters through indigenous business projects and partnerships.
- Wisdom for Karl and Dinah to coordinate the project.