Philadelphia in Madagascar
Research indicate that nearly 45 % of Madagascar's 17 million people have never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ once, while a critical lack of trained leaders makes the Church vulnerable to deception and false teachings.
On the east coast of this Indian-ocean island, the Philadelphia Project is focusing on evangelism and Christian leadership training to help address the immense spiritual need.
Although some 48 % of Madagascar's population professes to be Christian, many adhere to syncretic Christianity (a mixture of Christianity and traditional beliefs). Even worse, nearly 45% of the island's population officially practice traditional ancestor veneration. and it is one of the few places on earth where traditional beliefs are actually increasing each year!
In June 1997, a team from South Africa launched Philadelphia's first outreach to Madagascar to support the work of Jan and Marietjie Coetzer, then fulltime missionaries in the east coast port-city of Toamasina (Tamatave). During this outreach, the team went into the remote mountains some 100 km north of the city where they traveled up-river by hollow tree trunk-canoes and walked another 120 km to bring the Gospel to people who have never been reached by any "outsiders", let alone heard the Gospel.
These outreaches became an annual event and was continued when the Coetzers left Madagascar in 1999. By that time, Philadelphia's team had established a strong relationship with various local believers and leaders, among which Past Razafinindrina Victor, who not only has a passion for bringing the gospel to those who do not know Christ, but also to train and disciple new believers. Victor officially joined Philadelphia as our Project Manager on the island in March 2001.
Victor and other co-workers had been teaching the basic principles of Christianity to new believers when doing follow-up of new converts for several years. In April 2002, he launched the formal Mobile Leadership Training Program with the aim of equipping and training current and future leaders for the Church in the region.
As with our lecturers in Zimbabwe and Malawi, Victor uses a system of mobile training where he travels to different areas to present classes to small groups of students. This method is not only cost-effective, but it also enables students to stay economically active to provide for their families, while also making it possible for them to constantly share that which they have learnt with their congregations, communities and families.
LEFT: Victor (right) doing some basic biblical teachings in a remote village in the mountains on the east coast of Madagascar.
The full course is a 3-year Licentiate in Theology developed and administrated by the Timothy Training Institute. A Certificate is issued upon completion of each module.
At present, the only limitation is that translation of the whole course into Malagasy had not yet been completed. This makes it very difficult to present the teachings to those in remote areas who cannot even speak French! By January 2005, translation of the course was about 60% complete, so pray with us that the rest of the work will be completed soon so that more leaders in Madagascar can be trained to help build the Kingdom of God on that beautiful island!
Because we firmly believe in a combination of theoretical knowledge, exposure to practical work and personal attention to equip our students for their work as future pastors, ministers, evangelists or missionaries, practical ministry forms an important part of the training program in Madagascar. Students receive “on the job”-training during regular outreaches (crusades) where they get the opportunity to apply the knowledge which they have gained in the classroom under the watchful eye of Past Victor.
During these crusades, emphasis may fall on evangelism, teaching, church-planting or physical work (such as actually helping to build a church), according to the specific need of the people among which the team is working.
The Team in Madagascar
Victor and Florentie Razafinindrina
LEFT: FLTR: Tsissa, Victor, Jessy and Florentie (back) Razafinindrina. (June '04)
Joining Philadelphia’s team as Project Manager on the island in 2001, he has a heart for building and strengthening the Church by teaching and discipling believers. His main responsibility is therefore to teach and disciple new believers, and to train current and future leaders for the Church. However, Victor also has a passion for reaching unbelievers with the Gospel of Christ and is therefore regularly involved in evangelism.
Early in 2003, Victor’s beloved wife, Hanta, died of a heart-related sickness. This was a tragedy not only for him and their two young children, but also for the rest of us who came to know and love Hanta dearly. However, the Lord brought healing and in the end of 2004 Victor married Florentie, who not only became his new wife and mother for the children, but also his partner in ministry.
Past Berthin, Germain and Airy
LEFT: FLTR: Germain, Victor, Berthin and Airy. (April '05)
Past Berthin is a respected leader in the METM Church and has been instrumental in planting many new congregations over the years. However, in spite of the considerable responsibilities related to his formal ministry, he has been part of just about every outreach and training project undertaken by Philadelphia on the East Coast of the island. More than that, he is also a mentor to Victor and beloved "father in Christ" to many who has had the privilege of going on outreaches in which he took part.
Younger additions to the team in Madagascar are Germain and Airy, both of which are currently (2005) still students and part of the Leadership Training Program under Victor. We are looking forward to see these men continue to grow in Christ and develop in ministry so that they may help make a difference to the millions of people in Madagascar who still have not heard the Gospel!
Tantely and Yvette
LEFT: Yvette and Tantely with their two beautiful daughters.
Tantely and Yvette has a children’s ministry where they are focussing on training and equipping child evangelists and establishing Children’s Clubs (groups where children are ministered to and encouraged to reach out to unbelievers). Tantely is also responsible for translating the Timothy Material from French into Malagasy.
Outreaches to Madagascar
Philadelphia undertakes at least one short-term outreach to Madagascar each year. Groups of volunteers from different nationalities and denominations travel from South Africa in order to minister and reach out to the people of Madagascar on different levels. These outreaches often include traveling long distances by foot through VERY rugged terrain in order to remote previously unreached people in remote villages on the east coast.
Activities during outreaches vary, but may typically include using the Jesus-film, open-air evangelism, dramas and mimes, preaching, building and construction, literature distribution, teaching, sport tournaments (e.g. annual Gospel Volleyball Tournament on the beach), and presenting or facilitating advanced training and seminars. Although shorter outreaches may be undertaken at other dates, outreaches usually takes place over a period of about three weeks in March/April.
LEFT: Manie Bosman (left) and Victor (right) explaining aspects of the Gospel during an outreach with the Jesus-film in the remote mountains of Madagascar’s east coast.
Individuals or groups who are interested to join these existing and life-changing experiences, should contact our head-office in South Africa at tel: + (27) 12-567-6512 / (27) 82-925-4125 or send us an e-mail to: email@example.com
Note: Due to the extreme difficulties of the terrain on the east coast, outreaches to Madagascar require a high level of physical and mental fitness, and a willingness to endure high levels of discomfort.
The Road Ahead
In spite of regular natural disasters, inadequate infrastructure and political turmoil, we are very excited about the progress in Madagascar and even more so about the prospects for the future of this program. Many new believers as well as others who have been serving the Lord for years without any training, are applying to join.
More about Madagascar:
CONTACT-DETAIL IN MADAGASCAR:
E-mail - firstname.lastname@example.org
|Getting as exited as we are? See, Philadelphia has full-time teams in several African countries, but we also rely strongly on volunteers to become involved by contributing their prayers, time, energy and finances. So why don’t you do something about it right now? Alternatively, you can first read about our projects in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Madagascar, get some more facts on Africa, read about the history of the Cross in Africa or just share your thoughts with us?|
“Mission Impossible” – that would be the much talked-about secular African Renaissance
without Jesus Christ!
|PRETORIA HEAD OFFICE CONTACT DETAILS:|
|TEL: + 27 (12) 567-6512
CELL: + 27 82 925 4125
|P.O. Box 14137, Sinoville (South Africa) 0129|