After Kelvin Antoro, 20, sustained serious injuries in a motorcycle accident, he felt discouraged and abandoned. “After my accident,” he recalled, “I became disabled. None of my church members came to visit. I decided not to go to church anymore.”
That decision changed on a Saturday in May when members of the Church of Jerusalem, a United Methodist congregation in Bangui, visited Antoro in his home. “Your teachings,” he said, “allowed me to remember the promise I made on the day of my baptism — to follow Jesus to death.”
The church is located in the Miskine suburb of the Central African Republic’s capital and largest city. The visitors went door-to-door to tell their neighbors about Jesus.
Before the day of evangelization, the team gathered at the church for three days of fasting and prayer. The 12-member team was divided into four groups of three people, ideally, a pastor, an evangelist and an intercessor. An evangelist is trained in evangelism techniques. While he or she is speaking, the intercessor supports him or her with prayers. The pastor completes the team.
Before going into the field, the team researched the targeted neighborhood by answering the following questions: Are there any believers in this environment? Is there insecurity? What are we going to do to reach these people?
An hour before the evangelistic campaign began, the team prayed with the intercessors to seek divine protection.
Team members divided themselves into north, south, east and west groups. Each went from house to house without discrimination. To avoid confusion with Jehovah’s Witnesses, the team did not carry Bibles. They used materials provided free by the Campus Crusade for Christ.
“We greeted the people,” explained the Rev. Lucien Dockpa, East Bangui District superintendent. “We introduced the purpose of our visit and asked their permission to continue the conversation. If they agreed, we studied the pamphlets. If not, we left without insisting. Every conversation lasted about 25 minutes.
“Once we presented the Good News and the person agreed, we invited them to pray and receive Christ in their life. In some homes, people offered us hospitality by welcoming us with a glass of water, listening attentively to our teachings or inviting us to share a meal.”
Some homeowners asked the team to return at a more convenient time, while others refused to accept them, saying, “We do not have time to listen to your story of God.”
One person they visited was Alphonsine, 38, and a mother of three. She requested prayer. “Pray for my husband and me,” she said. “My husband beats me every time I come back from the church. I have not been to church lately. My prayer is that God changes him.”
Of the 15 homes visited, seven were welcoming. Three requested appointments for later visits. “Most people recognize Christ in their hearts as their Lord and Savior,” Dockpa continued. “That day, we evangelized 14 people.”
The United Methodist Church of Jerusalem includes about 50 members. The Sunday after the door-to-door visits, 66 people attended worship.
Once people accept Christ, the team follows up with them by scheduling appointments for Bible studies, visits of encouragement and invitations to join the church. Each newcomer has a reserved place to sit during the service. After worship, they are introduced to the faithful who welcome them as members.
The pastor in charge of evangelization coordinates the follow-up, arranging an appointment either at his or her home or at the local church. After explaining, teaching and discussing biblical themes with the guests, the pastor has a better understanding of the level and religious culture of the guests. He or she identifies what they already know about God and Jesus Christ and their beliefs if they have been exposed to the gospel. This process helps the pastor pair them with appropriate groups within the United Methodist congregation.
Maurice Wembi, the lay pastor in charge of evangelization said, “I can sum up my impressions through these two statements. First, the campaign was a success. Second, the lack of financial support did not prevent us from promoting a good evangelistic climate.”
The team hopes to expand their visits to hospitals and prisons. By following Jesus’ command to “go and make disciples,” the United Methodist Church of Jerusalem strives to seek and win souls for God by presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Dockpa is a communicator for the mission field in Central Africa.