The response was beyond all expectations when Tentmakers International held a tentmaking seminar in Abidjan earlier this fall.
” Is this something we can sign up for, or have we become too old?” asks an older, retired couple. Along with more than 100 others these experienced teachers have found their way to a church in one of the poorer districts of Abidjan in order to attend the tentmaking seminar arranged by Tentmakers International. Tunes of worship spread through the neighborhood from the wall-less church building before the seminar starts at nine in the morning.
The managing director of Tent, Steinar Opheim, is the first person to teach. He shares how God calls students, business people and professionals to bring the gospel to new areas. Sola Adebayo, the head of the Nigerian mission and tentmaker organization “The Kingdom Project,” follows up.
Your work matters to God, he preaches to a nodding, and from time to time applauding, congregation.
Throughout the day the two speakers take turns to share and teach about the main challenges in the mission work today and on how we can work according to the model of the apostle Paul. They both emphasize how tentmakers play a key role in the work of reaching all from all people groups with the Gospel.
Nearly all the least reached people groups live within national borders that are closed to traditional missions. The same nations welcome Christian students, business people, and professionals, explains Opheim.
Adebayo, who is an insider in the West African culture, knows how to challenge people.
Please stand up so we can pray for you if you sense that this is a calling to you, he says.
Some people get up quickly. Others need more time, but rise to their feet after a while. Finally 43 people have stood up and are included in Adebayo´s prayers.
This will be a great group to work with, says a smiling Yacouba Diawara when the seminar comes to an end. As the head of Tentmakers International in Ivory Coast, he is the driving force behind the seminar.
It will be challenging to find time to follow up all those who want to go, but we will manage. We exist to support and help people who are ready to go as tentmakers, says the Ivorian TI leader.
He thinks that most of the people who registered as tentmakers to-be will travel to unreached areas in West and North Africa.
Religiously West Africa is a meeting point between Islam, Christianity and ethnic religions. In North Africa, Islam is dominant. According to statistics from the Ivorian church planting movement 160 million people in West Africa are considered unreached.