PRAY – Peace

This is part two of the “Pray” series inspired by the Global Week of Prayer, prayer guide published by the Church of the Nazarene. You can get a copy of it HERE in your own language and join us in praying this week for the world! Global Week of Prayer is February 27 – March 5.

Africa is one of the most well-known missionary fields. It seemed back in the day, so many people wanted to go to unexplored, undeveloped lands and seek out people to share the gospel with. Maybe you can relate, but from my own personal experience-  missionary presentations seemed to point people toward the large continent of Africa. The stereotypical phrase that bounced around was “going to be a missionary in deepest, darkest Africa.” But the fun thing is, God did not wait for you or me or even Harmon Schmelzenbach (don’t worry, we will learn about Harmon in a little bit.) God didn’t wait for us to take the good news to the continent of Africa. And as it is with all the world regions we will learn about in the coming weeks, God will reach out and “draw all men to himself.” But the real question we have to ask is, “Will we get to be a part of it?” It’s one of the neatest characteristics of God. He invites us to take part in His plan. He doesn’t need us, but he chooses to work through us to accomplish his plans. Today we will begin by looking at a few instances in the New Testament where the gospel went to certain parts of Africa. We will dive into the African Nazarene Legacy. Where did the church start intentionally ministering to folks in Africa? We will head toward present day praises, needs and concerns for the Africa Region. To wrap things up we will evaluate what our part is in the ministry of the gospel of Jesus Christ in Africa, today.

The Gospel Goes to Africa

Now you might think I’m being a bit cheesy but there was a moment, recorded early on in the New Testament where Jesus was brought to Africa. Right, it was when Mary and Joseph were warned that Herod planned to find and kill their young son, Jesus. They needed to flee, so they headed to live in Egypt until the coast was clear. (Matt 2:13-15)

Can you imagine? Having the most amazing child, and not being able to tell anyone?! I love sharing things with my friends about my kids. It must have been hard to bring Jesus physically there to Egypt, but all the while they were refugees. They were foreigners. They probably lived off of the proceeds of the Magi’s gifts. What they did there is anyone’s guess, but Mary and Joseph were the first to bring Jesus to Africa.

There is another story much later in the New Testament. It’s recorded in Acts 8:26-40 and is sometimes entitled, “Phillip and the Ethiopian Eunuch.” I’ll fast forward a bit in this story, but suffice it to say, Phillip was exactly where God wanted him to be in order to use Philip to share the good news of Jesus with this Ethiopian. 

34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.”

Acts 8:34-35 NIV

After guiding the Ethiopian through some scripture that pointed to Jesus as the Messiah, Philip baptizes the man at the man’s request. 

We would look at that scripture and say, “Oh how amazing! I wonder whatever happened to that Ethiopian Eunuch?” If you read all the details from the passage about the man, he is someone important. He’s essentially part of the royal court of the Ethiopian Queen, he’s the treasurer. So, he is entrusted with not only the wealth of the queen, but advising her. A group of Christians, called “Coptic Christians” or Egyptian Christians trace their spiritual lineage to that one Eunuch.

And just a theological side note that I can’t pass up, Eunuchs…without going into details…well they couldn’t have kids. No offspring. It was kind of the appeal…having servants and officials who would never be able to take advantage of the queen or other royals. But take this idea that the Eunuch could never have children of his own, but in reality he helped birth generations of spiritual descendants in the Coptic Christians. 

This also helps the Eunuch relate to the scripture he’s trying to understand.

“In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.

    Who can speak of his descendants?

    For his life was taken from the earth.”

Acts 8:33 NIV

Just as The Eunuch did not have biological kids, but rather spiritual descendants…So did Christ. Never married or had children of his own, yet his descendants are numerous. We, who follow in His way, are children of God.

Africa Nazarene Legacy

I am not an expert on Missions in Africa and historical stuff. In the past, I had the pleasure of working with retired missionaries, David and Marquita Mosher. They previously served in Eswatini. You may know that country by its former name: Swaziland. Marquita helped me share missions lessons with the children’s department in Oklahoma. It was neat having first hand accounts of how God has worked in countries and a continent that I may never see. She also shared the story of Harmon Schmelzenbach. 

I want to encourage you now to watch the brief video embedded below. It’s about the missionary work of Dr. Schmelzenbach. The people there referred to his powerful preaching of the gospel as a bitter medicine. He learned their language, he preached and spoke in their language and he communicated the gospel and laid the groundwork for Nazarene Missions in Swaziland for years to come. 

Courtesy of

As I have said previously, when churches of like-mind and mission chose to merge together to form the Church of the Nazarene, many of them already had missionaries all around the world. Schmelzenbach was one such person. Another was Rev. Joao Jose’ Dias. He was born in Cape Verde, which is a collection of islands off the northwest coast of the mainland. Dias immigrated to the United state and gave his life to Christ. God sent him back to his old hometown and 120 years later, the Cape Verde Church of the Nazarene celebrated Dias’ legacy of bringing the gospel to Cape Verde.

There’s a little history of the work in various regions of Africa. Since we’ve talked about history for a little bit, let’s move on to structure.

What does it look like for the Church of the Nazarene to exist in Africa?

As you know, this message focuses on the Missional Region called “Africa Region.” And unlike the other regions we will talk about, it focuses solely on this one continent. The Africa regional office, where the regional director and his team reside in Johannesburg. This is far south in the country of South Africa. There are smaller divides of districts in the countries, but to better serve the region as a whole, they have begun moving toward what they are calling the “Hub Strategy.” With this, the Church of the Nazarene would have 2 additional locations for their regional offices – spread out on the continent. This may sound like a bunch of office shuffling and business-business-business to you, but with spreading out their resources, the Africa Regional office will be better able to serve and equip local churches and pastors in Africa. 

The Regional director is actually moving his family up to the Abidjan, Cote d’ivoire location. The other location is in Nairobi, Kenya, which is on the east coast of Africa.

Just as much as there is a legacy of the gospel in the Africa Region, there is also a legacy of war and unrest. This week, I contacted a missionary I know personally. She and her family live in Ethiopia. You may not know this, but Ethiopia was in a civil war that has yet to fully resolve. She asks if we would pray especially for those who live in Northern Ethiopia who are struggling with “daily life.” We will pray for peace and healing across the country. The message of peace has always been on the forefront for the Africa Region.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus is giving his disciples some words of encouragement, seasoned with reality. He is about to be arrested, tried and executed. Even while he knew all that was coming, he said this:

“32 “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.

33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” “

John 16:32-33 NIV

Folks today look for peace through many means. Sitting quietly to oneself and thinking of nothingness, emptying self of feelings, thoughts, emotions. Some look for peace by ignoring their problems, perhaps looking for the answers and solutions at the bottom of a bottle of alcohol. Those are not what Jesus is talking about when he says Peace.

His peace does not remove us from our troubles. They are not dissolved by positivity or chemical means. He said, in him you may have peace. 

Before these verses, he also said this:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

John 14:27 ESV

Jesus reminds us that worldly peace is not God’s peace. The Family Life study Bible says this peace refers to wholeness in their relationship with God. Because of Jesus and IN Jesus, we may have peace…even when war is all around us.

It’s the peace a person has when they know their time is done on this earth, God’s not pushing them on…but rather calling them home. It’s the peace you can have after praying and laying it all out there before God, holding nothing back. It’s the peace you have when you go where God clearly calls you…no second thoughts, no regrets. Peace. Wars and fighting all around us…but we can have peace because of God. We can find peace in Jesus Christ.

A Call to Missions in Africa

We’ve taken a look at the biblical background of the gospel in Africa, moved onto some historical and more recent accounts of ministry being facilitated there. Now we talk about what our part is in all this.

  • Pray. Clearly, a series entitled PRAY wants to lead you to pray, but there is so much you and I need to know before we bow our heads. That’s why as a precursor to prayer, we need to become better informed. 
    • I had NO idea there was a civil war in Ethiopia. Part of seeking out these prayer needs is having the compassion to learn and care about what’s going on on the other side of the world. 
    • We will get to Eurasia soon, but let’s take the Russian attack on Ukraine for a current example. It’s all over the news, how can you avoid it? But not all conflicts, wars, battles and attacks are covered by the news in the U.S. Only the ones they deem important. 
    • So that means when we are praying for a world area or a people group, we’ve got to learn something about them. 
    • Learning. When my wife and I got married, she had already been sponsoring a child in Rwanda. The sponsorship ministry doesn’t send out facts sheets about Rwanda. They expect their sponsors to look up and see what’s going on there…what are the needs and the challenges. Compassion takes some commitment and leg-work on our part.

Once we are Informed, we will better know how to pray. What to pray about.

  • Financial Support. We just collected our Alabaster offering today. It’s the “twice a year” offering to help build facilities all around the world. God is doing and will continue to do His work. And when people are generous, it reflects God’s generous personality. 
    • Perhaps a financial giving is something that God has spoken to you about. Beyond offerings and tithes into your local church, maybe even beyond Alabaster offering. Something more.
    • Child Sponsorship is a wonderful thing. For just $30 a month, we can provide assistance to a child in need. (hand out in bulletin) 

Missional Heart. Above and beyond any amount of money you can give to help the needy, the most important thing is having a heart that sees the mission field everywhere. We are called this week to focus our prayers for Africa, but if in your prayer time God lays someone or something outside that realm, pray for that. If there is someone in need and God moves your heart to meet that need, lead with your heart full of compassion. Share the good needs wherever you go.

Other Resources

Learn more about Nazarene Missions International

Learn More about the Africa Region

February 27, 2022 – Bulletin

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