Partnership In Mission (Rev. Dr. & Mrs Jim Lemons)
The Mission of God, that all believers are to participate in, is
often referred to by its Latin title, ‘Missio Dei’. This mission is one
of blessing the nations (all people groups: ‘ethne’) with God's full
salvation (Genesis 12:1-3; Matthew 28:19). The task of reaching the
entire world with the good news of the Bible is too great for any one
person, church, or denomination. Even the task of reaching the single
country of Cameroon is too great for any single entity, as this one
political nation has a population of over 19 million, consisting of
approximately 200 people groups and 279 languages and dialects. In order
to be more effective in efforts to help accomplish this mission,
believers, churches, and denominations need to cooperate together. One way to join forces in the advancement of God's Kingdom is through partnership in mission.
The Full Gospel Mission Cameroon (FGMC) has benefited from various partnerships during the first 50 years of minisntry. Partnership has played an important role in the expansion of the work. Numerous partnerships were formed from within and without Cameroon throughout the history of FGMC. Missionaries from several countries including Germany, England, Canada, Switzerland, Nigeria and the United States made their own individual and collective contributions to the strengthening of the Church.
The partnership that I am most familiar with (naturally) is that of the Assemblies of God, USA (AG USA). The AG USA began working with Full Gospel Mission in 1979, when the first missionaries from what was then called The Division of Foreign Missions (DFM) sent their first couple to Cameroon to partner with FGMC.
The AG USA's ideas of partnership have been shaped by the indigenous principles and the principles of partnership as developed by the late Rev. Morris Williams. The idea of partnership in mission began with the indigenous principles which were made popular by Rev. Melvin Hodges. These principles stated that every church should be self-supporting, self-propagating, and selfgoverning. That is, every church or church organization should choose its own leadership, not be dependent upon outside resources, and should be capable of producing church growth themselves. It was thought that when a church had reached these 3 goals that it was a mature church.
Building on these 3 principles, Brother Morris believed that even a
mature church needed partnership. His idea of partnership was based on 1
Corinthians 3:9 that believers are partnership-laborers together;
feld'associerlow workers with
Christ and each other. The precepts that Rev. Williams taught and wrote about emphasized equality among laborers. Missionaries and national pastors were to be viewed as true partners working together toward the same goal, each doing his/her part and all doing so for the glory of God.
Although the original indigenous principles were short-sighted in that they did not go on to mention further goals such as the need to be self-sending (able to train, send, and support their own missionaries) or sel f - theologizing (able to develop their own theologians and contribute to the theology of the Church), the principles of partnership have stood the test of time. In other words, partnership is still the best method to achieve the best results for the national church, no matter what the measure of maturity is.During its first fifty years, FGMC has grown from a handful of believers in a few villages to an established denomination with churches located in hundreds of villages and every region, city, and town of Cameroon. FGMC has even expanded beyond the borders of Cameroon, establishing some local churches in a few of the neighboring countries as well as a few churches in more distant locations. God has used a great variety of people and means to establish the work and much has been accomplished in five short decades. The Gospel has been preached; Christian literature has been published and distributed; churches have been built and established; Bible schools have been built and established - along with schools, training centers, technical schools, clinics and hospitals. Many other ministries throughout the nation have been actively revealing the love of God in word and deed. Praise God for what has been accomplished through the work of the Holy Spirit and partnership from the Body of Christ.
FGMC leaders and members must not, however, become complacent, prideful, or satisfied with what has happened in the past. While thankfully acknowledging the grace of God and the growth of the church during the last 50 years, it must also be noted that the Mission of God is far from over in Cameroon. The membership of FGMC would need to more than double just to attain 1% of the current population of Cameroon. Furthermore, thousands of villages are still without a Full Gospel church. Much has been accomplished, yet much more remains to be done.
The future of the work will, at least to some degree, be dependent upon the quality and quantity of its partnerships. Along with the rapid expansion of the Gospel and the proliferation of churches, missions' organizations, and missionaries from new sending countries - the need to work together will only increase in the future. While it is not always easy to develop and maintain partnerships, genuine Christian collaboration will be worth the effort in the years to come, as partnership is an effective means toward the certain accomplishment of the Mission of God.