In the Autumn 2006 edition of Aim’s in-house magazine “Interact,” Steve Wolcott set out to define what a “successful future” would look like for Central Region. The article summed it up like this, “When those who stand on our shoulders gaze far backward, my prayer is that they will see local churches throughout central Africa engaged in mission (Great Commission)!”
As Steve has travelled and participated in various meetings and forums and has had opportunity to interact with Aim members as well as leaders of the churches Aim partners with in Central Region, he has increasingly sensed a gentle “wind” of God’s Spirit blowing and increasing in intensity throughout Central Africa in regards to the response of the local church to be involved in mission.
Bishop Joel Obetia, in his opening remarks to the Church of Uganda Board of Mission, expressed the impact of this blowing “wind” on the Church of Uganda (one of Aim’s partner churches) as follows:
“The Mission Board is at the heart of why we are a church in Uganda. The Church of Uganda is because God is a missionary God. He is a sending God…The Church is both the fruit of God’s mission – those whom he has redeemed, and the agent of his mission – the community through whom he acts for the world’s redemption. It is therefore the essence of the Church to be a missionary community….There is Church because there is mission, but not, there is mission because there is Church, as many church people believe. It is not the Church of God that has a mission in the world, but the God of mission who has a Church in the world. So, we are Church because God is in mission. We join in his mission, even though often we try to invite him to join in our mission…
“The Church of Uganda is 130 years old. We are no longer a young Church… Our mission is to say God’s mission has reached us, we are not the same. Every Christian and church can do this. It is not for Americans or Koreans, whites or browns only, but for the whole creation…The centre of gravity in world Christianity has moved firmly South from the North of the Atlantic. There are more Christians in sub-Saharan Africa than in the whole of Europe and America combined. There are now 17 million Anglicans in Nigeria, 9 million in Uganda and 7 million in Kenya! African churches are growing at phenomenal rates. No church has grown like this for nothing. At the heart of such growth has always been mission. It is therefore time for Africa to play a part in God’s mission to the world.
“Although the outer man of Africa may be decaying and wasting away with AIDS, wars, hunger and natural disasters, there is an inner man that is daily being renewed and strengthened by God in the spirit. It is this part of Africa that shares freely amidst tragedy, which smiles and celebrates ‘in spite of’, which the world needs to see and interact with. This therefore is the century for Africa to be at the forefront of the mission of God into the world. The only key word for us is OBEY…The Church has never been fully resourced before it can be in mission. The greatest resource for mission is God himself. The Church should never look to anybody or any organization to fund its mission apart from God. When God moves and people obey, massive resources are drawn to aid God’s mission (Acts 2:43-45; 4: 32-37). It does not begin by amassing of resources, but the obedience of God’s people. …God has resources right here amongst us and elsewhere in the world, but we have not obeyed…
“In Uganda, we are now at the brink of a new outpouring of the spirit and a renewal that will transform the church for world mission… As the Anglican Communion staggers along and looks to Africa to give it a biblical leadership, the Church of Uganda must wake up and shake off the dependence syndrome to lead… We can only go into mission as ourselves, not pretending to be others.”