The very beginning of what would eventually evolve into Pamoja Ministries was when the Feser family were living in Kinshasa, Zaire (present day Democratic Republic of the Congo), called by God to help train leaders in Nzambe Malamu churches. We experienced overwhelming revival with signs and wonders, and we also saw the incredible need for training and resources. In over 3,000 churches of that one group alone, there were not even a dozen trained leaders.
We had to leave Kinshasa after only seven months because of a government vs. church dispute, but that was time enough to see Maimona totally entranced by a topical teaching in a magazine on our coffee table. We asked what fascinated him so much; he told us that to prepare a teaching on a subject he could: remember scriptures, ask a friend, or open the Bible and hope that it would fall open to a passage on that topic. The leaders had no reference materials, not even a concordance.
During the eight months we spent in Nairobi, Kenya, waiting for the doors to open so we could enter Tanzania, Sig began a work of love, a topical concordance to send back to Kinshasa. When the Muslim immigration officer who was delaying missionary permits suddenly died in his sleep, we moved to Tanzania. Living in three countries in our first two years in Africa allowed us an overview of church in Africa that has formed our ministry.
An organization called Word MAP heard about the concordance that Sig was working on and asked him to extend the scope of it so that it could be put into Ralph Mahoney’s excellent 1,000-page minister’s manual called “The Shepherd’s Staff.” Having heard from church leaders in China that their biggest lack was a training manual, Mahoney spent years putting together his ‘magnum opus,’ only to be denied the concordance he had expected to use because of doctrinal issues. Completed by Sig’s concordance instead, a half million copies of “The Shepherd’s Staff” have been distributed to house church leaders in China. This project connected us to World MAP’s worldwide literature ministry.
Since 1989, we have partnered with them, first doing the concordance and leadership seminars, then translation and distribution of their books and “Acts” magazines. We have sent over 50 issues of “Acts” Magazine in Swahili to 70,000 church leaders. These days, we supply books in Swahili, English, French, and Portuguese to more than a dozen countries in Africa. Unfortunately, production and distribution of books and magazines for both World MAP and Pamoja Ministries is seriously limited by a lack of funding.
We can attribute our own focus on literature for leaders to a seminar spent discussing with church leaders how we missionaries could best help them. As with Mahoney’s experience in China, the African leaders told us that the most important thing we could do would be to provide them with training materials so that they could lead their congregations well. In the decades since, we have attempted to do just that.
The strategic importance of this leadership book and magazine ministry was pointed out in the Tanzania section of the 2001 edition of “Operation World,” which states, “A wide range of evangelistic literature… [has] impacted the nation.” It also mentions the “overall growth of Christians from 34% to 48%.” We at Pamoja Ministries are thrilled to be a part of that growth. When we visit pastors in villages, most, if not all, of the literature that is on their shelf, other than the Bible itself, has come from our office. Resting at a resort in Mombasa, we were approached by three different hotel staff people who recognized Sig and reviewed what he had taught at the World MAP seminar in Nairobi a decade earlier. Nearer home, we asked a pastor who was carrying his carefully wrapped “Acts” magazine why he chose to teach from the magazine, since he had been to Bible school. He considered his words carefully and said, “That was Theology; this is Life!”
Whether through literature, video, or other media, as we move forward in ministry, we will continue to create and distribute tools and resources that bring life to those who receive them. We’re driven on by the many leaders calling us, asking for help to disciple others.
— Joy Feser, Global Literature Partnerships Manager