Mission work in developing countries is something that stirs every Christian’s heart. It is not primarily about fundraising. The point of missionary work is to work in such a way that the churches become sustainable and self-sufficient, both spiritually and practically. This requires purposeful work, a clear vision, and of course, many donors.
“If the challenge from Africa catches on across the whole church, we could reach as much as 40 million NOK in the collection” says Per Østern. An amount that is significantly higher than was originally in the cards for this collection. But we’ll get back to that.
Read also: BCC’s mission profile
Østern is the leading elder of the local church in Horten, which is responsible for arranging the mission feast at Pentecost together with the African churches. On behalf of his local church, Østern accepted the challenge Tielmean Slabbert proposed on live-TV at Easter.
We spoke with Slabbert, who is a professor of economics and has worked on projects to fight poverty, asking him about what caused him to suddenly take the collection goal to new heights:
“Prior to the broadcast, where we were going to present the collection, I spoke to several of the elders in BCC who have also personally been involved in the mission work in Africa” says Tielman Slabbert.
“Their vision inspired us and the African friends to go all out now, so that we can accelerate the projects that we have in our Africa 2030 plan.”
Slabbert had to think about it, but he came up with a concept for how everyone can contribute.
“We don’t want to just receive, we want to contribute ourselves, according to the purchasing power we have here in our countries. The challenge we are issuing now corresponds to a fivefold increase in what we would otherwise have intended to give from Africa.”
The BCC Federation has a two-part leadership – a spiritual and a practical leadership that cooperate well. The developments in this spring’s mission collection are a classic example of how the interaction between the Assembly of representatives and the Elders makes the church dynamic and active.
The assembly of representatives had budgeted a minimum of 15 million NOK for this spring’s mission collection, which is a reasonable level to plan for. (The budget was adopted 31.07.21).
The elders have the vision, and give their input as to what the collection should go towards. This motivates the whole church to work in the same direction and inspires the joy in giving, based on the adopted plans. As mentioned previously, conversations with the elders inspired Tielman Slabbert to increase the goal of the collection for Africa, in order to accelerate the 2030 plan for mission work.
READ MORE: Organization: The BCC Federation
Christian social entrepreneurship and mission programs
A substantial part of the mission work in Africa is driven by Christian social entrepreneurship. In order to be able to gather for messages and church activities, facilities are required. And in order to acquire facilities in developing countries, you need both a lot of professional competence and enthusiasts who are willing to take responsibility in the community. The young people need to be trained in social skills, self discipline, such as meeting up on time at work, and keeping appointments.
The youth program in South Africa teaches people various skills, from crafts to project management, in addition to instruction in the faith. In the end, the young people become so self-motivated that they can travel back to the other African countries they come from and apply what they have learned. For example, they can become driving forces in local church projects, or perhaps they have developed skills to start their own business and can offer jobs to others.
Now it’s Africa’s time
Harald Kronstad is one of the elders. He believes it is only right to make an effort for Africa, because there, the money will become very useful for the cause of the Kingdom of God.
“Now it’s time for Africa, and we are seeing that the gospel is doing great things for people in Africa, who are experiencing being freed from conscious sins. So now it’s time to ask ourselves: What have I done for Africa?”
The collection is taking place right at a time of unrest in the world. War has replaced a pandemic, which brings great economic uncertainty, and rising prices in many areas. When there is a lack of stability in the world, the Christian message becomes even firmer, and in times of need, Jesus’ words apply:
Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.Luke 6:38