From the Introduction
My first introduction to Wendell Broom was in 1982 during the Summer Seminar in Missions at Abilene Christian University. Wendell taught the church growth class that our Meru mission team took as we prepared for the Kenyan mission field. I was entranced with the way Wendell infused the course material with life, not only from his experiences on the mission field in Nigeria, but with his passion and knowledge of God's activity in the world. Wendell urged us to look beyond the methods, the numbers, the ideas of planting germinal churches towards the energizing work of God and His Spirit. Wendell transformed the way I saw the world, and the way I would later approach my mission work in Kenya.
It was at the evening devotionals, our mission vespers, however, where Wendell made his deepest impact on me. Night after night he led us to explore the depth of God's love for the world and its people in ways that I had not experienced before. He reached into my heart and plucked cords which had as yet never sounded - and made them sing. Wendell is, for me, the most adept devotional master I have ever encountered. It was during those heady days of preparation for the field that the thought first struck me that here was a man whose life for God deserved a special celebration.
Through the years since then, Wendell and Betty Broom continued to influence me and so many other missionaries. The Brooms came through Kenya several times, sharing their encouragement with everyone they met. On furloughs we would pass through Abilene and share a visit or phone conversation with them. After my family returned to the States, the annual World Mission Workshop became a reunion time where Wendell and I could grab a corner table to dream the dreams of God together. Wendell continually encouraged me as I pursued first the Th.M. in church leadership and then the Ph.D. as I studied African church leaders. When I at last finished that final degree it seemed time to honor Wendell with a book. Knowing how many people Wendell has influenced, the task begged for the involvement of others. It was truly a joy to see how the contributing authors gladly, enthusiastically, accepted and carried out their assignments. We can think of no better way to express our appreciation for this man who has influenced us in so ways then to tell the story of God's missionary work in Africa through the Churches of Christ. One hundred and a few years they now total, and what marvelous years they have been.
As you, the reader, make your way through these pages there are a few thoughts I would ask you to keep in mind. First, take time to develop an overall view of this one hundred years of mission work. I believe you will be amazed at the breadth of the work in Africa, breadth of time, geography and in the many forms these ministries have taken. Second, despite the variety of works represented here there is a consistency which underlies the different storylines. While each author writes with his own style and perspective, all the authors share a similar passion for what God has called them to do. It is clearly evident that these authors have not just done their research on these chapters, they have lived what these chapters portray.
Finally, remember that this volume is, at best, only a partial account of this part God's mission in Africa. There are other voices which lie behind those of the authors, and even the author's subjects, whose contributions are, in some ways, even more vital than those of the people about whom you will read. Particularly I refer to our African brothers and sisters and to missionary wives and women. Listen for their voices behind these written words, for they are there; often subtle and at times overshadowed, but present nevertheless. Perhaps the day will come when another volume will be written to celebrate their contributions.
This book is organized into four major sections. Section I introduces Wendell Broom. The first chapter is Wendell's biography, which lets you see the way God has both developed and used Wendell as his missionary servant. In chapter 2 Wendell reflects on the history of Africa, the amazing Christianization of this continent in less than 150 years, and the 100 years of mission work of the Churches of Christ in Africa. In chapter 3 Gailyn Van Rheenen reviews the missionary metaphors, some quixotic and others sublime, which have marked Wendell's writings and teaching.
Section II is "God's Call to a Continent: People and Places." This series of seven chapters provides an overview of the history and major elements of the African mission work of the Churches of Christ. Chapters 4, 5, and 6 survey the three primary geographic divisions of Africa south of the Sahara desert: Southern Africa, West Africa and East Africa. These chapters orient to these geographic regions of Africa, then provide brief surveys of many of the works of the Churches of Christ in each country. These surveys are not exhaustive, but they do try to give as complete a picture as possible of the mission personnel, important events and places within each country's mission history. Finally, these survey chapters provide a snapshot of the current state of the church in each country, how many Churches of Christ, church members, on-going efforts, and key national Christians.
The remaining chapters in Section II review specific types of mission efforts which have been important to the work of the Churches of Christ in Africa. Tex Williams, director of World Bible School, provides a history of World Bible School and demonstrates how this simple tool has effectively penetrated Africa and brought a significant harvest of believers into the kingdom of God. Sam Shewmaker, lifelong missionary, describes the "Africans Claiming Africa" conferences which have gathered together African brethren from across the continent to discuss how they will carry on the evangelizing work of the church. Glenn Boyd, president emeritus of International Health Care Foundation, discusses the historical transitions in mission-based health care from its beginnings as informal "treatment on the road" to the establishment of mission hospitals and clinics staffed by professional health care workers and evangelists. The final chapter in Section II is a collection on Christian education in Africa written by Henry Huffard, president of African Christian Schools Foundation, William Searcy, chairman and registrar of the Nairobi Great Commission School, and Roger Dickson, director of the International School of Biblical Studies. These men demonstrate that Christian education, in its multitude of forms, continues to be a powerful influence for the advancement and stability of the African church.
Section IV: "Mission Strategies and Issues" presents a series of more formal chapters which will be of particular interest to field missionaries and missiologists. These chapters, drawn primarily from doctoral research, discuss foundational concepts for understanding leadership in East Africa, the formation and training of mission teams, the issues involved in phasing out foreign missionaries in ongoing works, humanitarian relief, and development works and, ends with a look into the African worldview in the chapter "The Gospel and the Spirits." There is a wealth of helpful material in these chapters on topics critical to the long-term success of the African church and the missionary enterprise.
The final section shares some concluding thoughts on the future of African missions and the African church. Sam Shewmaker in "The Future of Missions in Africa," probes for new strategies, evangelistic resources and roles for the western church and African Christians as we head into the next century. The final content chapter is a speech given by Wendell Broom in 1997 to 178 Nigerian evangelists and church leaders which challenged them (and us) to fill in the unevangelized gaps of Africa with a deliberate church-planting strategy to join the churches of West and East Africa by "meeting in the middle." The book concludes with an extensive bibliography of books, research, and articles on African missions by missionaries and authors associated with the Churches of Christ.
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By Stanley Granberg | AFRICA | Medical Missions | Mission Resources | Missions Training