Category: Missions

Articles and updates to encourage and equip ministers as they seek to see God’s Kingdom advance as the Gospel is preached to all nations.

African Technology Leader from FCA Church

Several years ago, while still in high school, Henry Damulira was on a ministry outreach from his home church, Seguku Worship Centre, about 10 miles south of central Kampala, Uganda. At the time Damulira was preaching the gospel and teaching English and math at the school in the Mukono district.

Henry Damulira

But then he noticed something unusual—fishermen in the village, having no access to banking services, hiding their meager daily earnings under large stones scattered all over their island. His observation, he says, “spurred me to develop a digital mobile saving platform which allows ordinary Ugandans to save money in banks through mobile money on their phones.”

Connecting fishermen to the banks was important, says Damulira, because their stone system not only left their money vulnerable to theft, but also made their cash too convenient to retrieve. They could access their money on a whim, and they often did, squandering it on frivolous purchases. “This left them in a cycle of poverty,” notes Damulira.

From his own experience, Damulira knew how easily savings goals could be hijacked by undisciplined habits. “As a teenager,” he says, “I had bought a piggy bank in which I saved my earnings from fetching water. At the time, my goal had been to save and buy a bicycle to ease my work and triple my daily income.” Instead of saving his money, however, he spent it on baseball caps.

When he saw what was happening at Rwajje Island and recalled his own experiences, Damulira realized that poor saving practices was a main reason why so many in Uganda remained poor. A study of 1,500 poor Ugandans showed that 99 percent failed to reach their savings goals through informal methods, either because the money was stolen or lost, or because they were too tempted to spend the money stored as cash. Estimates suggest that 3 out of 4 adults in developing and middle income countries do not have bank accounts.1

Damulira’s passion to support wealth creation among rural Ugandans led him to provide a secure digital platform that links up mobile phones to Airsave Saving and Credit Cooperative (Digital SACCO), in partnership with ECOBANK Uganda.

Damulira’s innovation was unique because it did not require the smart phone platforms upon which so many apps rely. His start-up company, Airsave, enables registered members to save and borrow money using a simple cell phone in small communities that have no physical bank.

Out of Uganda’s 40 million population, 90 percent are “unbanked” while 60 percent own mobile phones. Because the digital mobile saving platform can be accessed by 24 million with mobile phones, they can open up a digital account without having to step in a bank. Since its founding, over 3,000 people have signed up and lives have been changed through Damulira’s digital saving platform.

Thanks to Henry Damulira, Uganda’s unbanked can now access banks from their phones. For his digital innovation, AirSave won second place at the 2016 Africa StartUp Cup and came fourth in the World contest.

Seguku Worship Centre, Henry Damulira’s home church, is also where Steve Mayanja, well-known FCA minister with the World Outreach Ministry Foundation, is from. Damulira is son-in-law to Steven Kaweesa, a key leader in WOMF Uganda who was killed in a tragic car accident in 2016, which also took the lives of Ed Pohlreich and Scot Voltz.


https://docs.gatesfoundation.org/Documents/savings-statistics-financial-services-for-the-poor

Much of the information in the story above was found here.

Reflections

by John D. Sprecher, U.S. Lead Elder

Last week I was given a January 1943 copy of “Herald of Faith” the publication of the Independent Assemblies of God which became the Fellowship of Christian Assemblies in 1973.

For me there was a bit of nostalgia as I read the pages with names of many that I had met or heard of—E.C. Erickson (from Duluth), A.F. Johnson (who taught me the Pastoral Epistles at Seattle Bible School), Kenneth Solberg, my wife’s uncle-in-law Olaf Bakken, A.W. Rasmussen, Martha Ramsay (an early missionary to Liberia), Lewi Pethrus (from Sweden), and many others. I think that everyone whose name was listed is now with the Lord, but they have left us a great legacy of faith and passion for the gospel.

Perhaps most striking was what was NOT recorded in the magazine’s 32 pages. There was almost no mention of the World War that was raging in Europe and the Pacific. While I am sure it could not have been far from anyone’s mind, their primary focus was on church planting and missions.

A six-week intensive Bible Course had been held in the fall of 1942 at the Philadelphia Church in Chicago with about 20 students, some who were already missionaries but who wanted to increase their knowledge. The purpose was described as follows: “For the past few years the Independent Assemblies of God have put forth a renewed effort to thrust laborers into the harvest, and thus fulfill the command of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Many are called to preach the Gospel, but need the help of the local churches to encourage them to take the final step into the ministry of the Gospel.”

There was a report from part of the convention the fall before, when an apparent open forum discussion focused two questions “What are the means of God’s way of revival?” which was then wrapped into the question regarding “Home missionary work,” which we would define as church planting. This was of particular interest to me as the FCA USA had dedicated Pentecost Sunday this year as “Church Planting Sunday” in our fellowship, asking our churches to take an offering for this purpose.

In the discussion 75 years ago there was the pragmatic—“If we put money into our home missionary work, we will have more means for foreign missionary work” (H.A. Gross); the impatient from a veteran church planter—“Why cannot we have more home missionary work?” (A.F. Johnson); the practical—“Need the experience of those who are seasoned veterans in the Gospel work. Need someone to visit the various assemblies and encourage the small workers” (Jason Hall); the principles—“Home missionary work must center in the local church…. The church in any given locality is responsible for the evangelizing of the immediate territory surrounding it…. Suggest that the local church have someone who could travel and put his full time into the matter of home missionary efforts in the territory surrounding the local church.  Other churches in home territory could co-operate” (E.C. Erickson).

In 75 years, God’s plans for his kingdom have not changed. The church is still his Plan A—and we have the opportunity to continue to expand his kingdom as we work together.

(Reflections, 5-20-2018). John D. Sprecher, lead elder for the U.S. FCA, pastored churches for 45 years, most of them at Rock Church in Rockford, Illinois.

Church Planting Sunday

Join with other FCA churches on Pentecost Sunday, May 20, 2018 and make a significant contribution to the Kingdom!

Here’s a great opportunity for your church to partner with others in a special offering to plant new churches in the FCA. Already a number of churches have been launched over the last few years! Church planting, after all, is in the DNA of our Fellowship!

Check out this video to see five of those churches planted recently. We want to continue what’s begun—working together to see God expand and establish his church. We believe God is reviving this passion and calling us to partner together to plant churches across our nation and beyond.

What can you do? Use this video in your church services. Copy the link and share it with the members of your congregation. Show it publicly in the weeks leading up to to Pentecost Sunday. Cast a vision for your church to see what they can accomplish by working together with others! Finally, remind your congregation to come to church on May 20th prepared to give generously.

If that particular Sunday does not work for your church calendar, we understand. In that case, we
encourage you simply to plan for a Sunday that does work for you.

Why is this so important to us? Right now there are church planters in our congregations—spiritual entrepreneurs—who need to be trained, supported, and sent out to fulfill the Great Commission in our nation. The local church is God’s plan to do that! That’s why we have set a goal of $40,000 for this year’s church planting fund. Once you’ve collected your offering, please send it to: FCA Church Planting, 4909 East Buckeye Road, Madison, WI 53716.

Who receives funds for church planting?  Any participating FCA church may request an application for funds. The national FCA board will look over each request and conduct interviews with both the projected church planter and the leaders of the local church.

We will also provide tools for assessing a planters’ qualifications as well as materials and tools that may help achieve success. Our goal is not to be the primary support of each church plant, but to partner with the local church to help in the process. Your success is our success.

How do I find more information about church planting in the FCA? Feel free to request information from any one of the church planting committee (see below). We are members of the national FCA board members and have all participated in church planting. We would love to answer your questions.

Something to pray about. At our last national board meeting, we felt a strong leading to begin the process of a FCA church plant in Denver, Colorado. We would love to see a church planted there.

Anthony Simmons – simmons22@comcast.net
Gabe Carlson – carlson951@gmail.com
Tony Simon – tony@lafuentemin.com
Sam Snyder – sam@fcaministers.com
Tom Alexander – talexander@2riverschurch.org

FCA Connections in Africa

The U.S. FCA lead elder, John Sprecher and Beau Lee, a church planter in Manhattan, NY, recently returned from attending the Nigerian FCA conference.

Beau Lee, missionary from LifeChurch in New York City, teaches at the Nigerian FCA Conference.

“I believe this was a very significant trip—on many levels,” reports Sprecher. Two primary areas of significant impact were in the teaching ministry at the conference and in the developing relationships among the delegations from various African nations.

Sprecher and Lee spoke and taught at the convention. Lee taught the concept of “tent-making”—working for pay in the community while serving in ministry at no charge. The fact that Lee is “tent-making” himself in New York City added to his credibility. He was touched by the similarities between Nigeria and Haiti, having previously spent seven months there seeing poverty firsthand. Besides helping pastors, the “tent-making” approach is hoped to encourage business people to use spiritual gifts in developing more ministries.

They also addressed theological distortions and extremes in Nigeria—such as the “seed faith” teaching where pastors urge people to give everything in hopes of receiving material blessings, as well as the principle of tithing the increase and not “eating the seed.” Lee has set up a closed Facebook group as a forum for their ongoing discussion and interaction.

Another significant development at the conference was the increasing connections between FCA ministers from various African countries. Five Liberian leaders were present—as well as delegates from Ethiopia, Cameroon, and Ivory Coast—further integrating what God is doing through various FCA connections in Africa.

Pastor Kelvin Leo Seneh from Liberia, preaching at the Nigerian FCA Conference.

African FCA leaders met to determine the next steps in their developing relationship. Some newer members suggested naming an African “secretariat,” but Bishop Success Samuel (from Nigeria) and Kelvin Leo Seneh (from Liberia) explained that would be inconsistent with the character of the FCA. The group then decided that the FCA in each nation would remain distinct and independent—but connected in partnership with each other, similar to the FCA in Canada and the United States.

The attenders were enthused about their new relationships, and many are already planning to be in Liberia in February while also looking forward to another “official” African conference in 2019, possibly in Cameroon.

Bishop Success reported that 13 new members have joined the Nigerian FCA, which now has about 90 churches and 220 ministers.

Some meetings were held in the unfinished FCA Bible School.

The FCA Bible School is now meeting in a building erected with the help of U.S. donations. When completed, it will have five classrooms each holding about 40 students, a double-sized room, two offices, and two bathrooms. The building currently has no doors or windows, but it handles 28 students as they are able to use what they have. Another dozen students or so meet at another site. Additional monies have been made available for some students as partial scholarships as matching funds when they pay their own tuition.

Sprecher observes, “Without question we are seeing a coming together of a truly African FCA, and I am honored to have the opportunity to see it develop.” He notes that while there will undoubtedly be ongoing challenges and much work to be done, there is far more to be encouraged about.

Lead Elder John Sprecher and Bishop Success Samuel.

—This article was drawn from information provided by John Sprecher, U.S. FCA Lead Elder