“I know that without peace and development people cannot grow. It is a very sad reality, but in some African countries, conflict stops everything. It stops development” – Bishop XX
Though over half of its population is Christian, expanding Movement Day’s presence throughout Africa presents unique challenges, from poverty to primitive technology to the isolation of individual countries.
Movement Day Africa also is tackling the problem faced by Movement Day Expressions globally—motivating local churches and congregations to break out of their “silo” mentality, interact and work together for change, said Hermann Loubser, who assumed the role of Managing Director of Movement Day Africa in spring of 2018, after several years of working on behalf of this movement.
A Brief History
Despite the challenges, Movement Day Africa has caught fire, growing extensively over the past few years. Africa actually hosted the first Movement Day outside the United States, with representatives from South Africa and 14 other nations attending 2015’s City Changers Movement Day Pretoria (South Africa).
The movement gained momentum when 286 delegates attended 2016’s Movement Day Global Cities gathering in New York City. In 2017, four Movement Day expressions organized by different leadership teams were held in Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban, and Nairobi (East Africa).
They served as a catalyst for a continent-wide gathering in 2018, where more than 600 leaders from 49 African Cities gathered in Nairobi for Movement Day Africa.
Uniting a Disparate Continent
“To outsiders, Africa sounds like it’s one community where everybody works together and knows each other, but it’s not like that. It’s not like China. The reality of Africa is that each country is extremely unique,” Loubser said. “For example, in general, Victoria enjoys having conferences, but in Johannesburg, we’re all conferenced out.”
Limited technology and communication present problems. “We face a really big challenge with technology to make sure the word gets out. If you want to hold a conference for all of North America, it’s easy,” he explained. “However, in Africa, if you want to schedule a conference call, some of the leaders have to travel four hours to access the Internet to dial in. With this limited access, you can’t arrange a meeting by just sending an email.”
In a continent facing so many challenges, setting priorities is essential. Loubser identified Movement Day Africa’s top three as:
- Youth. “The average age in Africa is 19.5. That means we have a huge focus on youth,” he said. “We’ve started engaging with youth and young adults to develop leaders for the next generation.”
- Multiplying Churches is a significant part of their mission. A legacy of misinformation was left behind after Roman Catholic, Presbyterian and other missionaries set up churches across the continent, which were left to local leaders to run. The result — false theology, with many congregations sanctioning polygamy and other practices not in scripture.
- Poverty. When working with communities in Africa, where unemployment is as high as 50%, poverty is almost always a priority, Loubser said. “We’re looking to work more with the marginalized communities. In Africa, that almost always means poverty.” He adds that working with existing charities, and using Movement Day’s pulpit to spread awareness, has proven effective.
“In this area, partnerships are important. We’re coming alongside organizations that are already making a difference and providing exposure through our website.” He cites ‘To Mould, To Empower, To Serve’ (MES), an organization in Johannesburg that’s already helping about 2,000 homeless people a month.
The Future: 61 Cities
In 2018, church leaders from 49 African cities signed the Nairobi Agreement, which sets an ambitious but attainable goal of establishing a Movement Day presence in 61 African cities over the next five years.
“We have 49 cities and 15 others where God is calling us,” Loubser said.
In 2019, Victoria, Cape Town, Rwanda, and Zambia will host expressions, Nairobi will host a local event, while Johannesburg and Harare will host leadership events, he added.
Opportunities abound across Africa, where not only is the average age under 20, but thousands are moving from rural communities to cities every day. The opportunity for growth and development is unprecedented.