August 15, 2012

Global Notebook - Day 4

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A day of ministry, testimony and fellowship inside and outside the walls of the Willow Park Conference Centre in the suburbs of Johannesburg, South Africa, Wednesday, the fourth day of the ACSI Africa Roundtable began with worship and devotions.

On the ground in Johannesburg and liveblogging from the six-day conference, EduDeo Ministries Executive Director Hank de Jong participated in and continued to document the historic gathering.

The largest gathering of Christian educators in Africa, the roundtable is drawing delegates from across the continent, including representatives from ACSI’s five member regions (West Africa Francophone, West Africa Anglophone, Central Africa, East Africa and Southern Africa).

East African voices rising in early morning worship, Australian delegate Dr. Ted Boyce, principal of the Dural, New South Wales, Australia-based Pacific Hills Christian School, returned to the podium to lead opening devotions, directing delegates to Colossians 1:15-20 and the reconciliation and indwelling presence of Christ in the believer.  The second of three devotional expositions, Dr. Boyce pointed the assembly to the theme ‘The Dignity of Humanity’, having already focused on the ‘The Deity of Christ’. The third devotional address will focus on the theme ‘The Destiny of Christian Education’.

Sinful humanity is returned to fellowship with the Father through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  Dr. Boyce challenged the African delegates to keep the proclamation of the Gospel and authority of the Word central in the classroom.  Christian educators are called to teach children the importance of the Word of God in all areas of life.  Dr. Boyce concluded with the Apostle’s admonition in 1 Peter 4:10 – as image bearers and followers of Christ, believers are urged to administer God’s grace and bring glory to Him.

Following opening devotions, Ivory Coast-based Gospel messenger Pastor Moussa Koné formally shared his powerful testimony and conversion from Islam to Christianity. Delegates remained silent and were deeply moved as Pastor Koné documented his pilgrimage from Muhammad to Christ.  Pastor Koné (whose last name means warrior) was raised in a leading Islamic family in the Ivory Coast.  Both his father and grandfather were Imams.  As a religious leader in the community, Moussa’s father instilled the central tenets of Islam in his son from an early age.  As a child, Pastor Koné was repeatedly taught ‘there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His Prophet.’  At age five, Pastor Koné would be awakened early every morning by his father for the Islamic call to prayer, a rigorous religious training and education that continues to be inscribed in the mind of the Gospel messenger at age 59.  A devoted son, Pastor Koné was sure of his path and calling within the Islamic faith.

Yet the young, well-versed student of Muhammad began to struggle with the concept of paradise and eternal life after death.  As a Muslim, Pastor Koné could not come to an assurance of salvation, wavering in doubt as he constantly weighed his good and bad deeds. The guilt-laden scholar could recite over 6,000 verses from the Qur'an, yet was not able to attain comfort and assurance in the Islamic Scriptures.  Unsure if he would reach paradise, Pastor Koné, at age 35, began a remarkable nine-month journey that would lead to assurance of salvation in Christ.  Unable to sleep at night and having lost twenty kilograms because of his spiritual struggle, the convicted student of Muhammad was finally released from doubt and uncertainty through an intense dream.  Like many converts from Islam to Christianity in Africa, Pastor Koné faced strong opposition from his family and community, yet has endured as a disciple of Christ. 

The dynamic Gospel messenger concluded his testimony by calling delegates to love their practicing Muslim neighbours as well as embracing recent coverts from Islam abandoned by family and community.  In the context of growing Islamic aggression in Africa, Pastor Koné called for a renewed commitment to financially support Christian education on the continent to ensure the continued transformation of the Gospel.

"The growth of Islam in Africa is supported by incredible resources from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait," Pastor Koné noted.

"We need to match and exceed support for the cause of Islam with renewed support for Christian education."

Following Pastor Koné’s compelling testimony, delegates gathered in personal and corporate prayer for the proclamation of the Gospel in Islamic-majority countries in Africa, thanking God for the free gift of grace and eternal life through Jesus Christ.

"Delegates were moved to absolute silence as Pastor Koné gave his testimony," Hank noted.

"I was reminded again of the need to regularly pray for the proclamation of the Gospel in the Islamic world.  I was also convicted of the need to continue engaging Canadian supporters in the appeal for Christ-centred schools in Africa. I have become even more convinced through my participation at the roundtable that Christian education is one of the most effective ways to bring hope to Africa!"

Following tea, roundtable participants heard school growth reports from the ACSI region of East Africa. Delegates applauded the success of teacher training initiatives in the region, specifically in Uganda.  A number of training initiatives are being endorsed and supported by local governments.

Following lunch, a majority of the delegates made a short journey from the Willow Park Conference Centre to nearby Pretoria for a time of fellowship and cultural orientation in the Jacaranda-lined streets of the capital city.

Returning to the conference centre for the evening session of the roundtable, delegates reported on the previous day’s regional group discussions.   Delegates have been challenged to develop a broad strategy for Christian education in Africa by the end of the week.

The sun setting on the suburbs of Johannesburg, delegates completed another full day of Word-centered and prayer-filled proceedings in the greater effort to promote Gospel transformation in the classrooms of Africa.

You can receive ongoing liveblogging updates from the roundtable by following EduDeo Ministries on Twitter at @edu_deo.


Aug 16, 2012 at 4:00 pm

So amazing! I'm really enjoying participating in this conference through your blogs, Hank. Thanks so much for the updates, and praying for God to continue his work through you, through EduDeo, and through all the people you are being blessed to meet with during this week.

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