Brief History of the Ministry
PACE was founded in 1989 with the purpose of providing spiritual and economic development to the poor rural and urban communities among people of African descent in Africa, the USA, the Caribbean, Brazil, Australia.
Perspectives from PACE Founder, Wachira Ngamau
When I came to America in 1984 my goal was very simple: To receive education in pastoral ministry and return to my country to help build my church. In my undergraduate studies, however, courses in American history and church history changed my outlook about myself, my people, and society in general. Church history introduced me to the way my people in Africa were exposed to Christianity. American history introduced me to the American people, specifically African Americans that I had never met before and of whose history I knew nothing about prior to my coming here.
By the end of my second year, I had changed my focus from pastoral studies to missions. The more I learned of the misery and struggles of African Americans, the more I felt the need to search some of them out and verify what I was reading. Before this portion of my education I did not know any African Americans and felt no pressing need to initiate a contact. But now everything had changed. I started looking for African churches, friends, and homes. By the time I completed my undergraduate studies I had introduced myself to one African American family and an African American Church, but still had no African American friends.
Toward the end of 1988, my church history professor stated that American-born Chinese and African-Americans are poorly accepted in the countries of their ancestral origin. This statement threw my academic curiosity to another level and I wondered why he didn’t suggest what we should do to help these people to be accepted in their countries of origin. After all, these people have more in common with their ancestors than with anyone else. Since he offered no bridge to this awkward situation, I decided to conduct my own research to either prove or disprove his statement.
It was 1989, and I was attending Rock of Our Salvation Church, a mostly Black congregation in Chicago. I approached Pastor Raleigh Washington, who barely knew me at the time, about taking a team from his church to Kenya to minister among my people and to document the African response to Black Americans. Pastor Washington agreed to support my mission, and preparations to send a team to Kenya were started. While the team was in Kenya we took them to various tribes in order to register a wide range of responses. Everywhere we went, the questions were the same: ‘Where have you all been? Why has it taken you so long to return? Why do you have to go back? We have enough land here for you all to send for your families!’ I came back to the US and started putting together a team of leaders that would stand behind this mission. Since then, the Lord has repeatedly affirmed this Mission with His blessings and we have not lacked a team since 1989.
After working between the Africans and African-Americans for five years, I decided to find out how the rest of the Pan African Community was fairing compared to what I had already seen of the African Americans. Trips to more African countries, the Caribbean and South America confirmed that the condition of the Africans of the diaspora were not much different from Africans themselves. Since 1995 we have been taking American teens to this part of the world, and every year the Lord is helping us to break down the walls of alienation and isolation that the people of Africa experience wherever they are in the world. So, I have found that contrary to the assertion of my college professor, not only can African-Americans be accepted in the lands of their ancestral origin, but both Africans and African-Americans have always had a profound impact in each others’ countries. In the future, we plan to bring the Pan African communities of Indonesia, New Zealand, and Australia into the fold. Today, PACE is preparing and sending Africans and Africans of the Diaspora to serve in each others’ countries. Together, we’re trying to understand our common past, repair our present condition, and build our future.
The African & Pan African Plight
Africa is the birthplace of the world’s earliest civilizations and has been the home of artisans, scientists and scholars. Africa’s rich resources and minerals make it one of the largest and most diverse economic bases in the world. Yet with all of the continent’s great wealth and history, the advance of European colonialism, war, drought, the greed of government officials, corruption and mismanagement have depleted Africa’s resources and people to the point where much of the continent lies in poverty and disrepair.
Among the African and Pan-African church there is a profound sense of isolation; both from itself and from the rest of the world. Whether on the Continent, in the Caribbean, South America or the United States, Church leaders rarely interact with other leaders regarding their direction and focus in ministry because of distrust, territorialism, pride, lack of education and fear. This dynamic causes a tremendous vacuum in visionary leadership, which is necessary to oversee the needs of the community – spiritual, social, emotional, economic, physical, and medical – and addresses them holistically. This lack of vision seems to be missing from the church at the community, country, and even continental level.
We are also not aware of Pan-African leaders who coming together to discuss global concerns of the Pan-African community and share commonalties of Africa, the United States, South America and the Caribbean – or to share their inspirations, struggles, resources and fellowship with the hope of finding both leadership and resources among themselves. Consequently, the view of ministry in the African and Pan African church is myopic, and inadequate to truly empower their congregations to be God’s people and representatives of Jesus’ love in their communities. Lack of training and preparation leaves church leaders feeling overwhelmed by the depth and breadth of the need in their congregations. Feeling powerless to address these overarching needs, they focus on those areas which they feel adequate to handle. At the same time, churches are being planted everyday in Africa and in the rest of the Pan-African world, many of which have no clear plan or vision once founded.
When African and Pan-African church leaders do receive training, they must acquire it outside of their cultural context. The ideas and resources they are introduced to are not indigenous to the community or culture. Consequently, they must not only master new skills and systems of thought which are foreign to their thinking, they must devise a way to adapt these ideas and resources so that they are effective in the Pan-African and African communities. This takes time, collaboration, expertise and resources which these communities have not successfully garnered in the past. The church is therefore weak because of inadequate culturally developed theological models. materials or strategies being used in discipleship.
Facts about Africa and the African Church
For nearly 2000 years, the African and Pan-African church has been behind her contemporaries in preparing and sending out missionaries. Locally and globally, the African and the Pan African church in some parts also lacks sound Biblical leadership,African and some Pan African Pastors and clergy are the poorest paid in the world, with an average salary of under $100 a month and over half of the African and Pan-African clergy do not have formal training. Over 30% of Africa’s population is currently illiterate, 20 of the world’s 40 poorest countries are in Africa and yet, Africa is one the worlds’ largest consumer groups while being one of the least organized producers. Africa has one of the world’s highest infant mortality rates and over half of Africa’s citizens die of war, hunger, or disease before age 50. Based on the above statistics, it is clear that there are critical needs in Africa that must be addressed!