Pentecostal movements in Eastern Africa are growing by leaps and bounds. The number of members in the Full Gospel Churches of Kenya (FGCK) has recently exceeded one million. Starting missions of their own is now more topical than ever. (INGRESSI)
Arto Hämäläinen, Fida’s Executive Director Emeritus, returned from the mission training seminar held in Kenya with encouraging news.
“When I met Samuel Murith, the Bishop of FGCK, he reported that the churches now have more than a million members. Spiritual revival is taking place in different parts of Kenya, and the churches are growing fast.”
“The bishop said that FGCK needs a clear structure for missions, and that’s where we can help. The plan is to make a decision on the matter at FGCK’s national meeting.”
According to Hämäläinen, FGCK already has some expatriate workers, but he adds that “the number is not at all proportionate to the size of the church”.
The mission training was attended by Bible school directors and teachers from Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, all of which are Fida’s partnership countries.
“We were given an enthusiastic welcome, and the comments we got showed that people had a desire to start putting things into practice too,” says Arto Hämäläinen.
In Finland and the other Nordic countries, Pentecostal churches have been actively involved in mission for a hundred years. Yet starting missions is not always a matter of course. There are several countries in Europe in which Pentecostal denominations have remained within their national borders for decades.
Arto Hämäläinen runs training seminars for Fida’s partners on how to get started in mission. The seminar topics include theological issues in mission, the status of global mission, the New Testament model for missions, and encountering different cultures.
Hämäläinen also emphasises the importance of sufficient structures so that the zeal for mission does not fade due to practical difficulties. Necessary elements include preparatory training, strong prayer support by the sending church, mental support for the employees, fund-raising and communications.
Over the last few years, Fida has provided training for its partner denominations to help them get started in mission in 20–30 countries each year.