Although The Foursquare Church has active ministries throughout Africa, no one remembers a time when Foursquare national leaders from the many African nations have gathered to seek God’s direction for the entire continent.
That is, until now.
In April, Foursquare apostolic leaders from the Central African Republic, Cameroon, Nigeria, Burundi (East Africa), Namibia, South Africa and the Francophone nations participated in the first-ever Continental Africa Consultation for Foursquare Leaders. They represent 3,725 Foursquare workers in 4,159 churches on a continent large enough to cover the combined areas of China, Argentina, the U.S., Western Europe and India.
Foursquare Area Missionaries Humberto (Beto) Paz (East Africa and South Africa) and Daniel Lucero (West Africa and Francophone Nations) had a vision that Foursquare national leaders from all over Africa would come together in Johannesburg, South Africa, for the first time and seek the direction of the Holy Spirit for their continent. Like many other aspects of life in Africa, Foursquare’s ministry there has been individualized among the continent’s unique nations and cultures.
“We saw the providence of the Holy Spirit as we shared our personal testimonies of how we met Christ and about our individual spiritual journeys,” Daniel tells Foursquare.org. “Something special happened where, even after the gathering and separated by thousands of miles and incredibly busy schedules, we have been drawn into a deeper sense of family.”
Some leaders who participated speak French, and others speak English. They may live as far as 5,000 miles apart in vastly different cultures, but all the leaders welcomed the Holy Spirit to heal past confusion, to collaborate on a healthy future, and to bring the hope and love of Jesus Christ to the diverse population of their continent.
“Like a stepping-stone across unchartered water, this type of gathering allows assessment and commitment for shared ministry resources,” Daniel says.
As the Holy Spirit is leading The Foursquare Church to a more tangible and visibly global perspective, Daniel and Beto believe we need to invest in the type of shared apostolic alignment embraced by leaders during this gathering. They say this is best accomplished through authentic relationships, not through structures.
Foursquare Foundation Executive Director Greg Campbell and Foursquare Missions International (FMI) Director Jim Scott immediately caught the vision for the Consultation. Finances from FMI’s Global Missions Fund and a grant from the Foursquare Foundation, along with funding from the African national leaders and their respective churches, provided for the practical needs to get the leaders together.
Coordinating the Event
The event came together in a unique fashion. Renowned Foursquare leader and author Ralph Moore, senior pastor of Hope Chapel Kaneohe Bay (Windward Oahu Foursquare Church) in Hawaii, had planned to meet with South African leaders; when he heard the vision for a larger consultation, he welcomed the opportunity to broaden the already scheduled event.
Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach to ministry, Ralph challenged the leaders to discern how discipleship principles from the Bible, and especially the book of Acts, could meet the spiritual needs of the people they serve. Although each leader represents very different contexts, Ralph nudged each of them to embrace the “next level” of growth both personally and corporately for their nations and regions.
This approach is consistent with Foursquare’s Four-Stage Development Model, in which entire nations are encouraged to strategically initiate ministry (stage one), nurture leaders (stage two), expand their influence (stage three), and send ministers into the world (stage four).
Daniel and Beto believe these African leaders now see their future as a spiritual partnership, working side by side with one another to accomplish their shared purpose. They believe Ralph Moore was God’s choice for helping these leaders accept a new perspective on ministry and leadership.
During the Consultation, each national leader gave a regional report including how he saw the region growing in the future. Together, the leaders were able to define common ground on shared objectives, and they initiated a pathway of collaboration.
Finding common ground in the continent’s diverse population of 1 billion people—nearly 15 percent of the world’s inhabitants—is often difficult, even among some religious leaders. Among the myriad ideologies represented, most Africans practice Christianity, Islam, Judaism or traditional African religions.
Transparent sharing and honest interaction were encouraged among the Foursquare leaders who attended the Consultation. Strong preferences were shared and, at times, differences of opinion arose between leaders; yet, through it all, they cared about one another and shared their insights with mutual respect.
Daniel and Beto say the leaders agreed that their first priority is to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the world. When the Consultation concluded, each leader confirmed that this gathering was a vital first step in a process that must continue into the future.
By: Rod Light, an ordained Foursquare minister and educator in Los Angeles