_A group of 30 members of the Northern Deanery of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe (ELCZ) Western Diocese travelled....(click to read the story)
Evangelism, Self-reliance and Christian Education
Since it inception in 1903, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe has been to win more people to Christ, through a holistic approach. Building on this approach with a desire to revive it's relevance in it's congregations and the communities around the ELCZ has been running the Amos Project from year 2020 to year 2023 with some support from Evangelical Lutheran Church in Wurttemberg and VELKD both in Germany. The Amos Project derives it's name from the book of Amos seeking to address social injustices issues to each particular community. The program bring together key opinion leader representatives of the community and congregation like Village Heads; Headmen; Businesses men; Chiefs; Leaders of other faiths; MPs; Church Elders; Women and Youth Leaders representative. It worth noting that these consultative meetings will be done at the ELCZ church.
The layout of the program will be as follows:
a) The local ELCZ Pastor calls the meeting to order and then lead in opening devotion.
b) The ELCZ local lay leader introduces the local pastor in charge to the local invited different leaders as well as all the invited key leaders.
c) The pastor in charge introduces the National Coordinator for Evangelism, Self-reliance & Christian Education who happens to be the national implementer of the Amos Project and his Media Team.
d) The National Coordinator takes over from there to give the project content summarized as follows:
d1) History of ELCZ. The church from it's beginning had ever been having an interest to be relevant to the lives of communities in which she will be serving. Witnessed by establishment of:
1. Schools to benefit local communities hoping that an educated person will have an improved life of him/herself including local community. However the worry now is that with educated people individual and community life is not meeting expectation which is worrisome to the ELCZ hence birth of the Amos Project.
2. Congregations for spiritual nourishment, loving God and neighbor. However with so many churches injustices are the order of the day as witnessed by suffering of the marginalized as if communities are on auto pilot with no community leaders. Hence the birth of the Amos Project to an introspection and map a way forward to address anomalies.
3. Clinics/Hospitals: To give birth to a healthy church and community which will be able to enjoy working for the development of itself.
The current worry is that with all this people are no longer having the zeal to work towards a clean environment. d2). Why opinion leaders of the community?:
1. These are understood to be the parents of each community.
2. As parents of the community should have a culture of meeting together to look at particular social injustices of their communities and chart a way forward to address them on their own.
3). What has been learnt:
1. The Amos Project has come as a wake up call in all the several communities where it has been implemented.
2. Has been learnt that because of idle minds the majority youth in the communities have resorted to drug abuse some of them have become thieves, others involved in different kinds of violence whilst a few are trying self help projects. This points to a future need where communities are seeking the church to work with them to address some of these challenges through dialogues, livelihoods and conflict management.
3. Learnt that some livestock are feeding on used pampers which will be disposed in some areas of the community. This calls for community leaders to be in charge of their environments working towards a good environment.
4. In some communities youth are shunning education going for gold panning where they are exposed to violence for the precious stone in many cases leading deaths.
5. The Amos Project have opened a lot of Evangelism opportunities as many communities where it was implemented identify with the ELCZ eg at Kushinga Congregation at Yorks Growth Point in Mberengwa District Chief Bvute, said that though he is not a member of the ELCZ he has so much respect of the church programs taking place in his area and it won't be a surprise one day to find him worshipping as a Lutheran member. At Matulungundu Congregation under Gwanda District during Amos Project implementation the ELCZ local pastor was declared the ward pastor where all other different denomination pastors will be working in whole under him. In Mhondoro Ngezi under chief Ngezi during the Amos Project implementation Chief Ngezi said that owing to what he had learnt what the ELCZ is doing in other communities as church he concluded that there was no church in his whole area and invited the Lutheran church to work with his area rife in gold panning and violence as a result and their young people have lost Ubuntu, was ready to mobilize all the young people in his area to be taught by Lutheran pastors.
6) Some of the lessons learned were that it no good to benefit from a community and it's environment one is not taking care of.
7. That servant hood leadership will enable communities to reap the best results desired. e). Local ELCZ Pastor: The pastor takesover to lead the consultative meeting to look at its own social injustices and plan how they were going to address them. f). Closing Remarks and vote of thanks done by an identified opinion leader present with higher office in the community. In most of these closing Remarks the national ELCZ office has always been requested for accompaniment. g). Closing Prayer by one of the pastors from other churches and then dismissed.
The main goal of the project is to constantly remind members of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). In this, all believers are reminded that through baptism, they were called to participate in God’s mission. The project also seeks to strengthen and make parishes involved in evangelism and mission work as well as assist parishes know the importance of Christian Education in the life of their parishes. The project also has a remit of strengthening self reliance initiatives of the Church and equip Church leadership with skills to effectively mainstream HIV/AIDS into its evangelistic and ministry work. In all this, the vision of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe is that of a soul winning church where every believer should share the love of God in Jesus Christ.
_ The project targets the following groups:
Ø All non believers in Christ in parishes and mission areas. These are the people who have not given their lives to Jesus Christ.
Ø Revive believers in the 3 dioceses and strengthen the faith of Lutherans and non Lutherans within the parishes apart from targeting backsliders.
Ø Congregational and Parish Diaconia Evangelism Stewardship Committees (DESC) which are responsible for diaconia, evangelism and stewardship at congregational and parish levels are trained and strengthened. This target group includes Diocesan Diaconia Evangelism Stewardship Boards who are responsible for Diaconia, Evangelism and Stewardship activities at Diocesan level.
Ø All Pastors in parishes
Ø Sunday School Superintendents and teachers are people who are responsible or Sunday School in congregations and parishes.
Ø Development Committees in mission areas which committees are responsible for building chapels and parsonages among other developmental activities are targeted as well.
Ø Congregational and parish HIV and AIDS Committees which are responsible for HIV/ AIDS activities are not left out of the project.
The project is run in the three ELCZ dioceses of the Central Diocese located in the Midlands Province of Zimbabwe, the Eastern Diocese located in the eastern of Zimbabwe covering provinces like Masvingo, part of Midlands, Mashonaland Central, East, West and Manicaland and lastly Western Diocese in the west part of Zimbabwe covering Matebeleland South and North provinces from the Limpopo river in the south to the Zambezi river in the north. Pastors and individual members with leadership and evangelism gifts are empowered with skills for evangelism and teaching self reliance. These members could be women and men, both young and old. This strategy instills a sense of ownership, quickens and strengthens self-reliance, hence achieving interest in winning souls for Christ using local resources.