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When James Gribble first entered central Africa as a pioneer missionary, there were no Christians in the area. He described it as going to “the darkest and most densely populated region, to a place where not only has the Gospel never been preached, but where no one else plans to preach it.” (Press On! by Dave Guiles)
Now Encompass has a team in Cameroon, reaching out to those who don’t know Jesus, but also running a Bible Institute for central African believers to receive pastoral and evangelistic training. And the team is preparing for the next step.
Recently, Jason, Director of the Grace Brethren Bible Institute in Cameroon, taught a module on leadership outside the local church and went through the Charis Commitment to Common Mission and Identity with local African believing students. “It was challenging and humbling to [the students] as they realized that they are a part of something much bigger than the 80 or so churches in Cameroon,” Jason explains. “To share with them that we have churches all over the world, and then to list the countries where we have at least three churches, gave me the privilege of connecting [them] with our Charis movement.”
As Jason instructed the students on the global nature of our mission, they grew silent. “They were challenged because they felt like they weren’t holding up their end of the deal in fulfilling the Great Commission and taking the gospel to places where it hasn’t been heard,” Jason says. “They realized even more that the gift of evangelism was just as needed as pastors for local churches. I pray that this realization and conviction lasts beyond graduation.”
It is one thing for a mission organization to send people to a region to share the gospel. It is quite another when those who were once least reached begin to share the gospel with their own communities.
Showing the students the commonalities in our movement’s evangelistic goals also helped to bring unity. They began to realize all the reasons they could say yes to working with other like-minded believers rather than no. People can easily find ways they are different and use those as excuses not to work together. But highlighting the similarities encourages them to focus on their common interests instead of the ways they diverge.
The hope with these students is that they will desire to see the gospel shared throughout Cameroon, and that they will be open to working together, both with each other and with other believers, to help this happen.