Partnership is crucial in cross-cultural ministry. Recent years have seen an influx of Chinese into the continent of Africa. Below is a story of how OMF has partnered with African churches, local universities and other mission agencies to spread the gospel among the flood of Chinese migrants to Africa.
Excerpt from God’s Faithfulness: Stories from the China Inland Mission and OMF International (2014), pp. 280-285.
Hans Walter and Sabine Ritter studied the invitation from OMF’s international leadership in Singapore with growing excitement. They both had special links in Africa: Hans Walter was born in Ghana, they both lived in Africa for a while, and many of Sabine’s family members were still in South Africa. Now, with up to 2 million Chinese working in Africa, African churches were asking OMF to help to reach this huge diaspora.
What the churches needed was help in setting up training systems to learn about the Chinese culture and language. Would OMF partner with them in responding to this great opportunity to engage in cross-cultural mission? Could OMF set up a reproducible language and culture-training platform that could then multiply, blessing both African churches and the Chinese people?
By late 2012, the Ritters were settling into life in Nairobi, Kenya. They found that the Lord had prepared other people – Africans, a Taiwanese and a Chinese person – to have the same vision. The team was forming.
Within weeks of their move, in January 2013, the Ritters wrote:
“It is quite exciting to see God’s master plan in action. The other day another family from the Southern Baptists in the U.S. arrived in Nairobi with the same calling to bless the Chinese in Africa. They seem to have a similar vision and want to work with us. We are hoping to get together tomorrow morning before the Chinese service.”
As the Ritters continued to meet others with a similar vision, they and others in OMF leadership continued to pray about how OMF could best help African believers reach the Chinese. One idea was to form a curriculum focused on teaching Chinese culture and language skills (especially spoken Chinese). A further step was to train Chinese teachers to come and teach the curriculum in African churches and other venues. To do this, a partnership with a local university was begun.
As part of the process, some of the training was tried out with some a group of 25 local African church leaders in the biggest slum of Nairobi. The subject was basic and practical: “How to befriend Chinese.” The response was warm. Many of the pastors already had person links with Chinese people.
It will be exciting to see how the Lord brings blessing to China through the African churches. The growth of the Chinese church in Africa marks a fresh chapter in the amazing story of the sovereign grace of God as Asian people move around the world. It also shows the beauty of partnership among God’s people in the spread of the gospel.