The church in Africa is on pace to become the largest in the world by 2025, but cultural and societal transformation is not happening as expected — and many believe it is because of a heavy focus on conversions rather than discipleship.

“What gospel is this that doesn’t bring about transformation?” asks Victor Nakah, Mission to the World’s newly appointed international director for sub-Saharan Africa, who is a native of Zimbabwe.

It is because of Nakah’s strong vision for Africa, as well as his impressive ministry background spanning 27 years, that MTW sought him for its senior leadership team.

He laments that his heavily resourced continent continues to struggle with poverty, disease, and spiritual oppression despite a steady stream of Christian converts and an influx of ministry initiatives. “We can’t get out of the cycle of darkness,” said Nakah.

But he is also confident in the power of the gospel, as proclaimed through Reformed, covenantal teaching, to change hearts and minds and move an entire continent from darkness to light. He is passionate about the power of solid biblical teaching that exalts the sufficiency of Christ rather than the false promise of the prosperity gospel. And he longs to see this gospel expressed through the planting of Bible-based churches that create true disciples and are led by nationals.

These passions for discipleship and church planting dovetail with MTW’s desire to see transformation in Africa, and to see fruitful two-way partnerships between U.S. churches and national churches.

“There is an undeniable sense that God has prepared Victor for this role,” said Dr. Lloyd Kim, MTW coordinator. “For both MTW and for great kingdom impact.”

For Such a Time as This

It is because of Nakah’s strong vision for Africa, as well as his impressive ministry background spanning 27 years, that MTW sought him for its senior leadership team.

“Victor’s role is significant not only because he is the first African to be appointed as international director at MTW, but because he is incredibly qualified,” said Kim. “He is the best candidate for this position. He brings many gifts and much experience, and his is a perspective we desperately need as we work to become a more global organization.”

Nakah, who earned a master’s degree in systematic theology from the University of South Africa and a Ph.D. from Stellenbosch University, has served as a seminary president for 10 years and most recently served as senior vice president of CURE International. He has become a leader in Africa through his role in One Challenge (also known as OC International), the Africa Lausanne Movement, and internationally through various theological education initiatives. Nakah, who has been partnering with MTW for the past 15 years, was ordained in the Bulawayo Presbyterian Church in 1992.

He highlights key characteristics of the Reformed faith that he believes can grant freedom to many Africans who are seeking a salvation by works: “There is an obvious passion for the gospel, strong Bible exposition, the sovereignty of God, salvation by grace — these are things the African church struggles with because of Pentecostalism and the prosperity gospel. But the Reformed faith brings freedom.”

Embracing Global Leadership

“There are not only significant voices within the African continent but also voices who contribute to strategic dialogue of the global church — Victor’s is one of those voices.”

As demographics continue to shift, the face of global missions leadership is changing. More leaders are now coming from Africa, Asia, and Latin America, where the Christian church is growing.

It is a trend decades in the making, and MTW continues to increase its focus on partnering with nationals. “It’s a natural progression,” says Kim. “As we engage more with national partners it’s inevitable that we see the leadership that they bring — it goes both ways.”

Michael Oh, the Lausanne Movement global executive director and an MTW missionary, sees many benefits to collaboration — both with his work with Lausanne and in the world of missions. “Some of the best and most God-honoring gospel works can only be done if we collaborate,” said Oh. “Collaboration is harder than independent work. It is messier, more time-consuming, and often more frustrating. But if we believe that the Great Commission was given to the church (global and eternal) we will do what we can to recognize and partner with the church global.”

Nakah agrees that collaboration is necessary, and that it can be fruitful for both parties. He notes that the bulk of financial resources are still in Europe and North America, but church growth is strongest in other areas such as Africa and Southeast Asia.

“It is wise and sacrificial to support the growth of the church in Africa,” said Nakah. “Africa can help revitalize the church in Europe and the Americas, where the church is dying.”

These kinds of partnerships also support the growing practice of “missions to missions,” sending everyone to everywhere, so that all fields both send and receive missionaries. This is a natural outgrowth of the Great Commission, according to Kim. “We have a strong conviction that the Great Commission is for the whole church — it is equally for partners and the people we serve. So it is natural that they want to engage both locally and globally.”

As Nakah moves into his new role within MTW there is much hope that his voice will speak for many, in Africa and beyond.

“There are not only significant voices within the African continent but also voices who contribute to strategic dialogue of the global church — Victor’s is one of those voices,” said Oh. “In one sense this is not a bold, forward-thinking appointment as much as a bold, logical, even overdue appointment that helps bring us further in line with global realities and the gift of African leadership.”

8 Responses to Nakah Brings a Vision for Africa

  1. So excited and thankful for Vic to join and lead MTW here in Africa! Such a thoughtful, brilliant and articulate man. My South Sudanese refugee friends here in Uganda are still talking about Victor’s message that he shared with them earlier this year.

  2. Dave Eby says:

    Victor is the right person for this calling. He has passion for the church, church planting, and for the theological training of pastors and church leaders. He is in a unique position to contribute with his peerless knowledge of the the African church, theological education in Africa and his understanding of African culture. Coupled with his orthodoxy, his love of the Word and the reformed faith, and his humility, Victor’s leadership will impact. Our students at Africa Reformation Theological Seminary in Kampala, Uganda are very excited about this news.

  3. REv. Dr. Aflred Poirier says:

    Dr. Nakah is just the person to serve MTW in Africa. For the past decade I’ve seen and been a recipient of Dr. Nahak’s gosel-centered ministry which has taken him throughout the world.
    He is Reformed in the best sense-seeking to transform church and culture through the gospel of Christ. the PCA could not have found a better pastor-theologian for the task.

  4. Marty Phagan says:

    This is good news to all who pray for the advancement of the gospel. Dr Nakah will be the subject of our prayers for the ministry of evangelism and discipleship in Africa.

  5. This is great news! I’ve seen the fruit of Dr. Nakah’s ministry at City Pres and Theological College of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo. This will be a great thing for Africa and esp. for MTW.

  6. Santosh George says:

    Excellent News! God Bless Africa and may God use Dr Victor’s leadership to transform many lives. Prayers and Best wishes from India!

  7. Kayle Pelletier says:

    We’ve been doing theological education in Africa for 11 years and had the privilege of working under Dr. Nakah at The Theological College of Zimbabwe. He definitely stands out as a knowledgeable, humble and kind African leader with deep convictions, a strong character and a bold faith. What a great partnership!

  8. Santulinous Ekada says:

    I am thrilled with this decision by MTW. I sat under Victor’s teaching for one week a few years ago. At once I started realizing what it means to apply scriptural truths embodied in reformed theology to the African context in a way that heals where the African hurts most. His understanding of the African mindset inspired me to think more rigorously on how to exegete my culture and bring biblical and gospel-driven transformation to it.
    Africa has been waiting for this!