Clerics have called on their fellow church leaders to be instruments of transformation in their societies by not only preaching the gospel but also accompanying it with good deeds that would impact lives.
While addressing journalists on Wednesday on the sideline of a three-day international conference of church leaders in Kigali, David Charzan, the director of Purpose Driven Ministries at Saddleback Church (US), said the church’s primary role is to reach out to their communities—with love and compassion.
Dubbed the All African Pastors gathering, the conference was organised under the theme, “A movement of healthy churches that transform communities.”
The conference, which ended on Wednesday, brought together over 150 church leaders from 28 countries mainly from Africa, Latin America and the US, to forge ways through which a church can be an instrument of peace, unity and development in society.
“As a church, our purpose is to teach people to love God more, to love my neighbors more, to study and grow more in person and character, and share the good news with others. Church leaders should do that and reach their communities not only with the good news but also with the good works,” Charzan said.
He noted that, time and again, some church leaders forget their callings and responsibilities, only to be trapped in their selfish interests, or at times forgetting to move their ministries beyond church premises to communities of locality.
“The outcome of this conference is that we would start to see church leaders who are committed to creating health churches that are transforming lives in the communities around them and reaching out to others that have no bible, no church and have no faith.”
In a tele-visual message, renowned American evangelist Rick Warren called on African church leaders to seize the current demographic transformation on the continent, and take responsibility to help the church in fulfilling their responsibilities to be part of desired change.
The conference was hosted by Rwanda Purpose Driven/PEACE Pan—an umbrella organisation of Christian churches in Rwanda.
The organisation is supported by Dr. Warren’s US-based Saddleback Church.
Priests should turn their faith into action, turn their statements and beliefs into practical behavior, to see the potential in their people and help them transform their communities, according to Charzan.
Onesphore Rwaje, the archbishop of the Anglican Church of Rwanda, said the churches in Rwanda have mastered the art of unity, and have strived to be part of community transformation through engaging in various charitable ventures.
“In Mathew 29:8, the Bible tells us to go into the world, teach the gospel and transform the people socially, physically, morally and spiritually that’s the gospel. We are not yet where we want, but if you move around the communities, you will see there are number of such vivid projects the church in Rwanda has united on to transform the society,” Rwaje said.
Eric Munyemana, the executive director of Rwanda Purpose Driven Ministries/PEACE plan, said the most successful endeavors of the ministry have been to unite church leaders, working together to shape their communities.
“This country can’t underestimate the power of unity and the consequences of divisions. The government is trying to unite people at all levels, so the Church leaders united can accelerate and emphasise the unity we need from their leadership to the members of their congregation,” Munyemana said.
Bishop Samuel N. Mensah, from Ghana, told The New Times that the conference is an eye opener that the church of Africa is seeking to become the solution to Africa’s’ most pressing humanitarian challenges.
“Through the involvement of churches—by the governments—good policies and programmes can be tried and people can be transformed,” Mensah said, adding that Africa needs churches that are intentional, focused, purposely driven to transform the lives and mindsets of people.