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The Church’s expansion in the world’s second largest continent

By Mark Andro T. Milan

It all started with just a few people who gathered to listen to tape recordings of worship services. They were Filipino members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) who gained employment in Nigeria in West Africa. Looking forward to worship the Lord God wherever they may be, they began congregating in prayer groups in Rivers State, Nigeria. Similar groups were also established in the Kingdom of Lesotho and the Republic of Algeria. Just a month after, in November 1978, the first group worship service (GWS) in Maseru, the capital of Lesotho, was formed through the instrumentality of a pioneer Church member in Africa, Brother Rogelio Rafols Sr., who went there on assignment under the United Nations Development Program.

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The Lesotho GWS eventually transferred to the Republic of South Africa in 1981. The first baptism in the African continent was held in South Africa on December 7, 1992. Ever increasing in membership, the GWS in South Africa became the Local Congregation of King William’s Town on January 30, 2000, when they also dedicated to God their house of worship, which was officiated by Brother Emiliano C. Magtuto Jr., a minister of the gospel.

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For decades now, with God’s help and mercy, Church membership in this part of the world continues to flourish. In the Ecclesiastical District of Southern Africa, there are now 11 local congregations and 16 GWS established in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Ladybrand, and QwaQwa in South Africa, Maseru in Lesotho, as well as in the countries of Angola, Malawi, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Mauritius, an island-country 2,000 kilometers off the southeast coast of the African continent.

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Expanding further its breadth in the continent, the Church reached Madagascar in 2010, Morocco in 2015, Kenya and Liberia in 2016, and Ethiopia in 2017. Thus, there are now two ecclesiastical districts in Africa, the other one being the Ecclesiastical District of Northern Africa. With many more Africans becoming Church Of Christ members, INC houses of worship have been situated now in Burundi, Egypt, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Sudan, and Uganda. That is why more and more ministers and ministerial workers are being sent to Africa to help the Church Administration in edifying the brethren and in propagating the gospel.

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Testifying to how the Church has grown especially in South Africa, Sister Winie Mdali, the first South African member of the Church Of Christ and is from the Local Congregation of King William’s Town, said in an interview: “One of the challenges that I faced when inviting other South Africans, is that they think that this Church is only for Asians. They mocked me, calling me by all kinds of words, telling me that I am turning away from my own kind.” Braving the persecutions and trials, she encouraged the other Church members: “You should hold on here in the Church as I did. I’m old. It’s been years since I was here. I haven’t turned back. I’m still here. I do not want you to turn back. Hold on and invite others to come to the Church.”

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Truly in a span of 40 years, the Church in Africa has grown and continues to flourish. Indeed, the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) will remain unwavering in fulfilling the Lord Jesus’ instruction to “go therefore and make disciples all the nations …” and “… this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as well as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matt. 28:19; 24:14 New King James Version).

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