"Yahweh, Yahweh!" Jubilant singing ricocheted off the stucco walls of the Bissau-Guinean Mennonite meetinghouse. Participants at the annual conference of Mennonite Church West Africa (MCWA) celebrated the growing interest of Christocentric theology throughout the region 26-30 December 2019.
Having received requests from people in Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, MCWA used this annual meeting to explore expansion for this young conference which credentialed its first pastor less than a year ago.
One of the four initial pastors of MCWA, Daniel Djin-ale was commissioned to plant a congregation in Guinea-Bissau's capital city of Bissau. Djin-ale is currently studying business management and teaching at a university in Bissau. He plans to begin a Friday-night Bible study with a goal of developing into a Mennonite congregation.
Preparing to return to his home country of Guinea in January, Timothy Koiba was commissioned to plant a church in Nzérékoré, the second-largest city.
Having planted congregations in The Gambia and Guinea-Bissau, Eastern Mennonite Missions (EMM) volunteer worker Beryl Forrester is working to empower African leaders to take charge of the growing church. Part of Beryl Forrester's strategy is to teach a course called Biblical Studies in Anabaptist Perspectives.
Beryl Forrester and pastor Adriano Mbackeh have had the opportunity to share these courses in other locations.
"Many youth are seeing [Anabaptist theology] as a viable alternative to a church that struggles with a goal of maintaining a Christendom inherited from the past," says Beryl Forrester. "Many are looking for a fellowship of believers who are empowered by the transforming reality of the Holy Spirit focused on extending God's Kingdom in the here and now and living after the model of Jesus Christ."
Preaching, singing and Bible studies should all have Jesus as the centre, says Adriano Mbackeh. "Jesus is the centre of the Bible."
Two new opportunities opened up when Samuel Bobor, a pastor and Bible college administrator from Freetown, Sierra Leone, contacted EMM about working together in Sierra Leone.
MCWA will collaborate with Bobor's Spirit of Faith Bible Institute to offer Anabaptist curriculum to leaders in West Africa.
Samuel Bobor's articulation of Anabaptist theology has inspired a third church planter. This church planter is in conversation with MCWA about founding a Mennonite church in Freetown.
Originally from: Mennonite World Conference
CCD reprinted with permission.