Engaging North Africa through missional business
By Cami Peterson-Zwart | North Africa
Sixty-three per cent of Africans living south of the Sahara identify as Christian, whereas the populations of North Africa are more than 90 per cent Muslim. Millions of Christians live relatively peaceably in the South, but the few in the North are subject to significant persecution.
Go North was forged out of the notion that Africans are uniquely suited to minister to their brothers and sisters elsewhere on the continent. Christians living in North Africa welcomed this idea and, in 2015, the South to North Africa Partnership (S2NAP) was launched.
A Rwandan pastor, who is part of the S2NAP leadership team, says: “We act as if some doors are closed to God. We created expressions like ‘closed countries,’ rather than simply mentioning people groups that still lack the gospel. In response, the Go North vision is here to challenge us and change our ways of thinking and doing mission.”
The focus of S2NAP is to encourage Christians from the South to settle in the North and minister through missional business. As Jesus followers do their jobs, they can display Christ’s transforming power in their work ethic, interaction with clients, treatment of subordinates, and interaction with clients.
Where unemployment is high, even for the highly educated, start-ups through Go North open helpful options. These businesses enrich North African communities and local economies, leading to a positive reception for Christians.
The Go North initiative has members from East, West, Central and Southern Africa, along with brothers and sisters from other continents in support roles. To date, many of those sent come from West Africa, due to the advantage of speaking French, but the primary focus remains on business as a means of integrating in new locations.
S2NAP workers are sent by churches in the South, which provide financial support as long as needed, along with prayer and encouragement from a distance. Once in the North, the workers join the network of Christians and partner with the existing church in the region.
Significant persecution persists in many areas, and security is a major concern for Christians. The identities of both the workers and local Christians is never publicised or shared in any way that would put them in danger. While we do not live with a spirit of timidity (2 Tim 1:7), neither do we want to create opportunities for those who are hostile to the gospel to misunderstand us.
A South African team member of Go North urges the African Church to “find out the reality of the Christian life – don’t just think of your own community. Think of those who live in places where to become a Christian is to face extreme difficulty. You should find out what is needed to help in other parts of the world.”
There are Christians in the North, but they are few. They need brothers and sisters to come and stand with them. Sub-Saharan Christians are indeed hearing the call from the North, “Come over and help us!” and are responding.
• Sub-Saharan Christians to respond to the invitation to serve Christ in the North through missional business.
• Churches in the South to pray, send and support S2NAP workers moving to the North.
This article first appeared in AfriGo magazine and was adapted for sim.org.