1. An indigenous African organisation
iServe Africa has its roots firmly in Africa but it is reaching out under the modern mission banner ‘from everywhere to everywhere’. The organisation is registered in Kenya and the leadership (board) is largely Kenyan with only a couple of expatriate missionaries on the board. Through the training and placement of apprentices from all over the continent and finding placements for the all over the world, iServe Africa embodies the concept of modern missions as being from everywhere to everywhere. The thought that it is Africa’s moment to missionize the rest of the world has no place in iServe Africa as she sees her mission as a complementary effort that will be best achieved in partnership with other players rather than in isolation.
Martin Goldsmith argues that mission needs to move to the place where all are givers and all are recievers as we need each other in mission and everybody has something to bring to the table. He goes on to say that such intermix of nationalities and backgrounds in missions will bring international benefit, enhancing the life and growth of God’s people. iServe Africa has a British national on the staff team and has current apprentices placed in England through international partnerships. Over the past 3 years, 5 international apprentices have served in Kenya from Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda. There is clear intention to continually recruit international apprentices and then release them back to their countries at the end of their apprenticeships, better equipped for mission in their own contexts. This gives iServe Africa a global outlook and it is equipping workers for global mission.
2. A Short Term Mission Movement.There is clear understanding within iServe Africa that the nature of its ministry placements (mission engagement) is largely short term and hence the main concern is in doing it right. There is therefore care not to override ongoing mission activity especially in contexts where there are Least Reached people groups such as the placements in Moyale, Garissa and Wajir. We work closely, and under the supervision of the existing missionaries drawing lessons from past experiences and integrating them for effectiveness during the relatively short period of apprenticeship. iServe Africa recognises that short term mission is shaping the mission of the future and in this I agree with Goldsworth in asserting that short term mission is now not only a real possibility but has indeed become the norm. He contends that although short term mission has its unique challenges, it seems to be the typical model of mission in the 21st century and that it is the short termers who gain most from their term of service, they learn a great deal and amazingly mature both spiritually and personally. In order to do this well, iServe Africa has an internal operation procedures and manuals and is also subscribes to best practice in short term missions.
3. A Member Care Movement
One of the challenging areas of African mission enterprise has been lack of sufficient member care for missionaries in the field. Although the nature of iServe Africa apprenticeship is essentially short term, great care and support is given to apprentices straight from recruitment all the way through the apprenticeship and into debriefing to integrate the lessons learnt. Deliberate effort is also made to encourage alumni after they leave the programme to enhance ongoing missional lifestyle and involvement at local church or market-place level.
For the apprentices in any one given year, there is a dedicated staff team that does visits in placements, supports the apprentices in their discipleship and ensures the well being of the workers among other member care initiatives.
4. A Missions Mobilising Movement
iServe Africa sees missions as a present involvement and as a possible next step for its apprentices. Through the 1 or 2 year apprenticeship, young men and women are challenged to think about longer term involvement through faithful going or faithful sending. Recruitment to join the programme takes a great deal of mobilisation with staff and volunteers transversing the country to make presentations in colleges and universities, encouraging students to step up and take the challenge of missions. Through the national student movements, more are recruited every year and taken through this discipleship. Eventually this mobilises young people towards missions.
Among our alumni, some have joined longer term Christian ministry. Others have gone into the marketplace and are honouring the Lord in their jobs while supporting missions and bearing witness to the Lord Jesus.
5. A Locally Supported Movement (Partnership Development)
iServe Africa apprentices and staff are all supported with gifts from partners, largely local. The apprentices are encouraged to meet the costs of their ministry half way while their placement provides the other half. They are trained on models of mission support and are expected to carry out Partnership Development in order to raise the requisite support for their yearlong mission. Staff are also required to raise their full support from partners who may be individuals, churches or other Christian organisations.Whereas this model is vulnerable in the sense that it depends very much on the charisma and personality of particular staff/ apprentice, it also ensures longer term sustainability of the organisation since staff costs are the single largest expense item to mission agencies. As an intervention, careful training is provided to ensure success. Many Christian organisations have faced challenges in the area of fundraising and iServe Africa is by no means an exemption. However, the leadership believes that African mission will be African supported (funded) and that we have to grow an awareness of the need to support mission locally if we expect to be at the forefront of the mission agenda in this century.
I see iServe Africa right at the cutting edge of Missio Dei in the 21st century African continent and beyond.