|Church Planters equipped with GPS units|
One of the more fascinating reports I heard at the recent MANI conference I attended in Nairobi was on mission outreach currently happening in Madagascar. Off the coast of southeastern Africa, Madagascar is the fourth largest island of the world, about the size of the state of Texas. It’s also one of the more unreached areas of the continent, especially in the rain forest area which dominates the entire eastern seaboard of the island.
|Villages in the Madagascan rain forest now identified|
for church-planting outreach
Sharing all this with me at the conference was Dinah Ratsimbajona, Director of the Islands Mission and also MANI Regional Coordinator for the Island countries of the Indian Ocean. He claims his mission has seen explosive growth in new churches thanks to an aggressive strategy called CPM (Church Planting Movements.) Three generations of trained national workers, 480 in all, have been deployed with GPS satellite receivers to map out where unchurched villages are located in the forest. Then, using the CPM strategy to seek out the “man of peace” in each village and initiate a Discovery Bible Study in his home, the workers have successfully started over 2000 churches in just 20 years!
|Twelve-year old boy already a veteran church-planter|
One of the amazing stories Dinah shared is that his third generation of church planters includes a young boy only 12 years old. This lad has actually been the key to getting three different Bible study groups initiated, all which are on their way to becoming house-churches.
There are most likely over 15,000 villages in the rain forest, most of which are not even known to the government. “The GPS information our church planters have gathered on the villages have actually given us better data than any of the authorities have to date,” Dinah said. “Now, our plan is to expand to both northern and southern regions of the rain forest where there is still much work to be done.
Island Mission has benefited extensively from the help of both Mission Aviation Fellowship and Hellimission, a Swiss helicopter mission, that have tranported church planters from the capital of Antananarivo to remote areas in the rain forest.
What an encouragement it is to learn about an indigenous ministry like this one that is making significant progress in advancing God’s Kingdom in the mission fields found right in its