West Africa: The ‘unqualified’ farmer
“Church planting is the result of simply sowing Jesus,” says Canadian missionary Andy Rayner who blogs at The Invisible Humanitarian.
Rayner, a former ordained theologian and local church minister who “jumped off the steeple to live among the people” as he calls it, heads up Man Of Peace Development, a non-profit humanitarian organization. He lives two lives: in the drought season he does hands-on development field work in Mali, West Africa, while in the wet part of the year he captains a commercial lobster fishing vessel from Prince Edward Island at Canada’s East Coast.
‘My guiding philosophy is: Simple, economical, easily repeated.’
“My guiding philosophy for everything is: ‘Simple, economical, easily repeated’,” Rayner says. “In West Africa I learned the hard way that most approaches to community development are too complicated and expensive to be repeated by locals. I’m trained in theology, but God made it clear to me that our western style of leadership is not needed to advance the church. I have observed that the mass people movements taking place today have many common characteristics. The most interesting, and humbling, is that every one of them spread apart from theologically trained people or association with theological institutions.”
In Mongola the Gospel was spread by young school girls. On weekends and school vacations one girl’s family would invite another friend home. And the young girls would tell their other friends the bible stories while they played. Not a planned thing. It just happened, as missionary Brian Hogan vividly described in ‘There’s a Sheep in my Bathtub’. The adults overheard them tell the stories in their yurts and listened. By this the Gospel spread in a region formerly impenetrable to foreign mission activity.
‘No gift qualifies or disqualifies anyone from sowing Jesus.’
“There is no talk about leadership or the five-fold ministry in these circles,” Rayner comments. “Old women of no apparent leadership attributes have planted more churches than I have. I’ve come to believe that no gift qualifies or disqualifies anyone from loving others, sharing Jesus, or planting a church. Church planting is the result of sowing Jesus.”