Pastor Lekan Amusan is a missionary by calling. He is the South West Chairman of the National Evangelical Missions Association. He is by extension the mission mobiliser of the Global Mandate Conference; an initiative of Rev Toyin Kehinde, Senior Pastor of Agape Generation International Church. In this interview, Amusan tells Church Times how GMC has been a blessing to missions in Africa.
Below are excerpts:
How did you come about Global Mandate Conference in the first place?
I was the deputy director of missions in the Lagos Chapter of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria when Pastor Toyin Kehinde, who is the convener of Global Mandate Missions shared the vision with me and invited me to join in the planning for the conference. That was about eight years ago. Before then, GMC has been having its conferences annually. But I was invited to help with the mobilisation of missionaries for the conference. The idea is to bring missionaries together for a retreat. The kind of retreat we are talking about is for them to come, refresh and relax. Even while we talk about missions and what concerns missions during the conference, it is done in a relaxed atmosphere. It is a time for missionaries to rest. Every missionary who has been part of the conference looks forward to it every year.
What has been your own involvement with missions prior to that time?
I was director for missions and network of Christ Image Assembly and also Secretary of NEMA in Lagos. I have been in missions since 2000 fully. That is my calling. By God’s grace, I have had to work in many fields mobilising and supporting missionaries. Coming to GMC is an opportunity to be used by God to bring missionaries together. It has been an enriching experience for me.
GMC has given me the opportunity to carry NEMA along and use the platform to mobilise missionaries for the yearly conference. We now have more awareness about the conference among missionaries on the field. Many now look forward to it.
How easy is it for you to mobilise missionaries to attend GMC from their various fields across Nigeria and some parts of Africa and to what extent has it been of value to them?
From my experience, it takes a bit of effort to get them to come for the first time. But once they attend they will be the ones calling you to remind you they won’t like to miss that of the coming year. Missionaries also tell each other on the field about it. That makes mobilising for the conference easy.
The effect of the conference on the missionaries is not something that can be quantified. I found out that many missionaries labour on the field for years and don’t really have a place they can go to refresh. Nobody is giving them support. Nobody is helping them. But GMC has become a rallying point for them to get the help and attention they crave over the years. So far, we have had cases of missionaries that have been adopted by city pastors. It will amaze you that some of the missionaries who attend the conference are coming out for the first time outside their field.
There are thousands of missionaries scattered across Africa. How do you select the missionaries you want at the conference?
What we are basically concerned about is that the person must be active in missions . But then we also depend on referrals from mission agencies. But we don’t discriminate between missionaries under agencies and those who are independent. All that we are concerned about is that they are missionaries who need our support and prayers. So far about 25 per cent of attendees are independent missionaries. We get many of the missionaries from established mission agencies and church denominations.
Since some missionaries are attached to denominations do they still feel a need for GMC since their denominations should be taking care of them?
You are right that their denominations should be taking care of them. But there are missionaries on the field that have been forgotten by the churches that sent them to the field. Some churches just believe they should send people to the field without doing what is expected in terms of support and caring for them. It is not enough to send missionaries to the field, there is a need to mobilise men and resources for them. They also need to feel this sense of belonging.
Missionaries don’t only need resources for their work, they also need resources for themselves. Unfortunately, some denominations think they should use what they get from the field to take care of themselves. But what they get may not be enough. The irony is that about five per cent of denominations that we have seen expect some missionaries to make financial returns. When such returns are not coming, they don’t look the way of the missionaries again.
So what will you say GMC has done to missions since this conference began?
One of the good things GMC has done to missions is to create a platform where missionaries meet city pastors. This has really opened the door for the adoption of missionaries by city pastors. It has also opened the eyes of many city pastors to missions. Only eternity can reveal what that will bring in the future.. It has helped agencies to lessen their burdens in terms of bringing some of their weary labourers to come and rest.
The forgotten ministry of the Church is mobilisation. The conference is a platform for mobilisation. It is a place for those who will go to missions and those who want to give to missions.
There is no time we do GMC that people don’t catch a vision for missions. Beyond the conference, missionaries that have been adopted by GMC get monthly support. This goes a long way to help missionaries on the field.
From your experience what will you consider the greatest need of a missionary?
A genuine missionary will ask for prayers That is the most important need of the missionary. Many missionaries are working on hard fields. They need spiritual support. Incidentally, they can tell when the church is praying and when the church is not praying.
When the church is praying they begin to do things beyond their ability. They also get more labourers for the work. When the church prays, there will be open heaven for them.
What if the church is praying and the missionary is not praying?
The prayer of the church is indispensable. There are times the missionary on the field is weary and tired. It is the prayer of the church that sustains them at that point. If we put their personal need above prayers, the people supporting them will be wary. Jesus asked us to pray that the Lord of the harvest will send labourers to the field. You can’t pray and not get people to go on missions. You can’t pray and not get people to give to missions. That is why I said prayer is the most important need of missionaries. It will bring to reality other needs.
What are the expectations for the 2023 conference?
First I will want to appreciate God that some missionaries who came frowning the first time they attended the conference come laughing in subsequent years. It shows they have been impacted. We now have a growing number of missionaries that city pastors have adopted. But for the covid and post covid years, we had attendees from many African countries including North Africa.
Now we are beginning to gather momentum again. For the 2023 conference we are expecting missionaries from about six African countries apart from Nigeria But for the cost of transportation, we would have to have more from outside Nigeria. About 130 missionaries are expected at this year’s conference. The conference will hold in three different places in Lagos: Badagry, Ibeju Lekki and Alimosho.
The unique thing about the 2023 conference is that the missionaries will once again have an opportunity to fellowship and network. We are trusting that a lot of city pastors will be able to adopt more missionaries and that the city pastors will be more involved in missions even if it is praying for missionaries. We also hope that the few labourers will work towards bringing closure to the work by praying for an increase in labourers.