When he gathered in his hotel room in Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) with five African regional leaders in early December last year, veteran Foursquare Area Missionary Dan Lucero felt as if he were standing on the precipice of history stretching back nearly a century.
As they watched on Zoom, Foursquare’s Global Council voted to officially recognize Central Africa as a region. That brought to fruition a mission that began in 1928, when Merrill Singer and his wife settled in the village of Luisa, in what was then known as the Belgian Congo, as the first Foursquare missionaries to Africa.
“Council members said they saw God at work and wanted to recognize that,” Dan says. “All of us let out a whoop. We had given a report earlier that week. and the council said, ‘What are we waiting for?’ We couldn’t have planned that. It was an incredible feeling of accomplishment.”
Dan says the move of God he is seeing in Central Africa not only humbles him but instills confidence in the power of the promises of God. He believes that if Foursquare keeps persevering in Central Africa, there will be much lasting fruit of conversions and new churches there.
The recognition symbolizes the fast-developing work in the DRC, with more than 450 churches alone in the capital of Kinshasa. Close to another thousand are spread across this country—the size of Western Europe—in the heart of Africa.
Another example of success is Chad, where Dan helped pioneer the work by planting a church in the capital in 2009. Since the first indigenous leader died several years ago, the number of Foursquare churches has shot up from three to more than 125.
“The church is something that has to be indigenized. The Congolese, Chadians and Cameroonians are rising up. The thing that gives me hope is the church is growing stronger here.” —Dan Lucero
Although based in France, Dan travels to Africa regularly, as a representative of Foursquare Missions International, to meet with various national leaders. He jokes that except for his skin color, they think he’s African. He sees the mushrooming growth in his adopted nations as a sign of a new generation of church planters rising up, as well as growing unity. The latter is especially significant considering the history of missions in the DRC. Infighting among Foursquare missionaries grew so bad that, in the 1940s, the government expelled them and confiscated the churches, eventually turning over the buildings to the American Presbyterian Congo Mission.
This unfortunate history reflects nationwide ethnic divisions and tensions. Major conflict and civil war erupted after the country was temporarily renamed Zaire, and rulers fought over the nation’s natural resources and precious minerals. However, in recent years the narrative has turned in a more positive direction.
For example, Foursquare’s national leader in Congo, Constant Damba, and Dan began working together 15 years ago to reach young teens who lived on the streets in Kinshasa. Many were forced to turn to prostitution to survive. In addition to shelter, their ministry organized vocational training in computer sciences, hairdressing, tailoring and sewing. Foursquare pastors have reached out in other ways around the country, as well.
“There are untold thousands of women who have been widowed by war,” Dan explains. “We’ve reached the orphan and the widow by preaching the gospel, giving them food and helping them to plant crops. There’s been a lot of sadness, but we have seen a lot of revival, too.”
While there are national leaders in most Central African nations, he says the key Foursquare national works are in the DRC, Chad and Cameroon. Chad is the site of a growing agricultural program, with phase three just launched; it includes the cultivation of 30 hectares (nearly 75 acres) of onions. Foursquare also recently helped distribute food to 500 pastors of various denominations there. Boxes were provided through the Adopt-a-Pastor initiative, spearheaded by Foursquare Disaster Relief and spotlighted in Foursquare Missions International’s Christmas offering.
In Cameroon, Dan hopes to further plans to establish a 2,500-seat worship center in the capital of Yaoundé. They lost momentum with the 2018 death of evangelist Bob Chambo, who had pastored and led the national work from this city.
Dan says the region’s promise comes from the fact that Foursquare did its best in recent years to help heal division and bring people together who were formerly divided by strife and plagued by poverty. Such coming together offers a bright future for both the African church and those who come alongside in partnership, he says.
“The church is something that has to be indigenized,” Dan insists. “The Congolese, Chadians and Cameroonians are rising up. The thing that gives me hope is the church is growing stronger here. I can only hope it stays this way and goes far.”