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GCOWE 97 - Interview with Dr. Tokunboh Adeyemo

For Tokunboh Adeyemo, a sobering thought emerges from the powerful and challenging input of GCOWE's African National Initiatives. "It is summed up in one word: Accountability. No matter the reason, impulse or agenda that brought you here; when you return home, you will be more accountable to God than ever before in your lives."

Dr. Adeyemo, General Secretary of the Association of Evangelicals in Africa (AEA), issued a stern challenge to over 1,100 leaders during an ANI plenary on Tuesday. His input was characterized by this caution: "A great deal has been built into our lives this week. A great deal will also be expected from us in return. Sooner or later, we will be required to account for the influence of GCOWE."

Adeyemo registered concern at the many leaders in Africa "who clearly prefer to live a life of prosperity - a life which does not include the Cross." Such leaders want immediate answers to prayer and are appalled when any form of trouble or calamity befalls them. "They fail to understand that this is just part and parcel of following Jesus. Any form of suffering means God is not with us or that Satan is having a field day. The main problem is that these leaders are seeking a form of easy-going Christianity, which is not biblical to expect. Let's face it! There is a cross to bear."

Pastoring a church is often preferable to secular and professional employment. In Africa, many leaders leave professions because governments or agencies cannot pay good salaries. It is more profitable to start a church. Rather than finding many leaders leaving the ministry, more are joining, but not necessarily for the right reasons.

The time had come to examine priorities. "Leaders need to question their motives. Why am I in the ministry? What is the end goal of my life's work? Some make salvation an end. For others, establishing a church is the end goal. GCOWE is helping us get a proper biblical perspective. We need a major paradigm shift. A lot of what we're doing as the main focus of our lives and ministry should rather be seen as a means to an end, not the end in itself," he said.

"The challenge to us is not to congratulate ourselves for how far we've come. Such an indulgence pales in the light of how far we still have to go. GCOWE is bringing a focus on our goal. We cannot say we don't know about the goal - the end that is before us - after being at GCOWE. Over and over again, our attention has been drawn to the great task of reaching all the peoples of Africa and the part we must play in its fulfillment."

Adeyemo confessed to a "personal quandary. I cannot reconcile for the life of me the type of growth we're hearing about on the one hand and the GCOWE statistics revealing to us all the unreached peoples. Africa still has one third of the world's unreached people groups. Out of the 1739 unreached people groups, nearly 590 are still in Africa. This is staggering! My response has been to doubt. But I'm assured these figures and facts are not a lie. They have also given us the geographical location of these groups. We can literally and precisely locate them. We know who they are and where they are. How can we think we have any excuse for not reaching them?"

He said he was blessed to hear that there are churches and denominations that "actually taking these lists of unreached peoples, praying earnestly for them, setting goals to reach them and committing funds and people to the task. This encourages me."

An important function of the ANI track is the "sharing of the information with us. This is fueling our vision, and getting us committed to the point where we will say: 'Let's go and do it!' It was a powerful moment when Luis Bush had us take off our right shoe, hold it up and with the prayerful guidance from Rene Daidanso of Chad, use our shoe to make a prayerful contract with God that we are going to see all these 580-plus peoples touched with the gospel by the year 2000."

Adeyemo's challenge included a reference to the "Gateway Religion" concept. "As far as the Continent of Africa is concerned, the last frontier is Islam. There are 16 Islamic states in Africa, many with Muslim populations of over 90 percent. I am talking of North Africa. For far too long we have readily accepted that the 'great divide' separating the peoples of Africa is the Sahara Desert. But now we can cross it. We can fly over it. We can go around it. The point is that the Sahara is no longer an impenetrable barrier. The Sahara is no longer an excuse! North Africa is now part of our mission field."

An old saying holds that "he who runs to the ball first, gets it. A boxer never wins the bout by sitting in his corner. In every instance of the Great Commission in the New Testament, we can't get away from the little word: 'GO.' We must accept that we must proceed. We must advance.

"The command to Joshua was to arise, cross over, and possess. These are our marching instructions. The Muslims are determined to invade. If we delay, we will not be able to recover. They are trying to get to the ball first." The advance of Islam in Africa as a purposeful attempt to "Islamize" Africa was alarming.

The Church in Africa needed to see the Islamic countries as a major mission field. Adeyemo suggested five-step strategy for impacting Islamic peoples: Send Christian students to undertake graduate studies at North African universities. They would be a witness on an academic level and ably defend their faith to Muslims. Send Christian professionals as 'tent makers' to Islamic countries. Deploy Christian businessmen and women to Islamic countries. Islam has spread through the impact of their business people. "Let's do the same. Let's see Christian business people use their biblically-based ethics to influence Africa - particularly North Africa - for Christ." Let Christian intellectuals engage Muslim scholars constructively through sound apologetics "in terms of what we believe, proving to them that our Book is the truth and that their book is in error." Use diplomatic channels such as the OAU, the UN, and embassies "to demand freedom of religious propagation. The Muslims come into the rest of Africa demanding to put up mosques, demanding equal access to property and religious freedom of expression. We can't do that in places like Saudi Arabia, Libya and most of North Africa. There is a glaring double standard. Let's demand equal rights.

Adeyemo was glad at the wide representation at GCOWE. "In many overseas events, there may be only one delegate from certain African countries. Here those numbers are way up. This is good. We must talk seriously about the ongoing programme. The National Initiatives are the key to this. My only recommendation is that GCOWE (and AD2000) should not ignore the other initiatives that God has already put in place. DAWN projects are present in many places. AEA's 'Africa for Jesus' is on-going in many places. Life Ministry has much going on. We must see our National Initiatives develop out of a partnering of all these dreams. There must be a flowing together after GCOWE. In this way Africa is within our reach!"

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7/3/97