Apostolic Faith Mission Celebrates 110 Years.
by Refilwe Sillie
This year the Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa is celebrating its 110th Birthday. President of the AFM Pastor George Mahlobo and Deputy President Dr J.J. Lapoorta share the history and future of the AFM.
1. Refilwe: Tell us about AFM and its founding principles?
Pastor Mahlobo: Some of the founding principles of the Apostolic Faith Mission are based on obedience to God, a passion for people, proclaiming a holistic gospel and a sacrificial passion.
2. Refilwe: Please share some highlights of the ongoing National conference that commenced on Sunday, 9th September.
Pastor Mahlobo: One of the highlights of this conference was the recognition of all those, men and women who contributed to the unification of the church from 1985-1996. Prior to that the church was racially defined. We had individuals who were involved in discussions and facilitated the new structure of the AFM which is non- racial. We recognised them and handed tokens of appreciation.
The second one was also to recognise the long service of our pastors who have been in ministry since their ordination for 40 years and above.
Dr. J.J. La Poorta: Another important highlight would be amending the constitution to make provision for a manageable transition from the leadership that will be retiring soon so that younger people and new leaders would come in. The constitution has been amended in such a way to open up the spate to make it possible for women to take executive leadership roles in the National church. Obstacles have been removed to make it possible for the younger generation to move into this space in a shorter time.
Another highlight of this conference is to help people to remember the road we have travelled, to write down the history and continuously narrate our story so that our people never forget where we come from as we continue into the future.
3. Refilwe: What message was delivered at the special Sunday evening celebration of the 110 Anniversary of the AFM?
Pastor Mahlobo :Firstly, on behalf of the AFM SA we would like to Thank and appreciate the presence of Secretary General of the SACC, Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana at the Sunday celebration.
The message that was relayed on Sunday related to a call to all of our members to take it upon themselves to be transformational agents to the glory of God. By that we mean that our are called upon to guide and coach them so that they can reach out to all people in the lengths and breaths of our country. Reaching to people that are poor, people that are hurting, people that do not believe in Christ. Bringing them hope and healing. The scripture of the evening was taken from Isiah chapter 6. The message to the entire AFM was that pastors alone cannot do it. Let us empower our members so that they could be the foot soldiers of the gospel of Jesus Christ in their places of work, in their schools, in their neighbourhoods and wherever they are, knowing that the Lord is always with them.
4. Refilwe: What inspired the tagline, “Forward the going Gospel”?
Pastor Mahlobo: Since 2013, the AFM has been involved in a strategy of transforming it into a missional vehicle and that was done after reflecting on the founders. In the year 1908 all of our members did not have titles, they referred to each other as brothers and sisters, they regarded their reason for existence being that of reaching out to the people. At the time the church grew exponentially because it was not only the few who were in leadership but everybody was involved, our young people in schools, our people in health facilities were involved. As we were thinking about celebrating this 110th anniversary we wanted to connect once again with our roots. To say to our people that let us keep on moving forward with the gospel that is touching people. We also reflected that from South Africa we have expanded to 35 other countries in the world. Being an indigenous church that was possible because our pastors and members felt that they did not have the monopoly of the gospel, they had to share it and in some instances partner with other churches and ecumenical organisations in making sure that the good news of Jesus Christ saturates our communities and indeed the nations of the world. We are moving forward with the Great Commission. Every AFM member is a Kingdom worker and has the responsibility to proclaim the Gospel there where they are – at work, within their families and local communities. The Going Gospel!
5. Refilwe: What is being done to spread the gospel to the world in this fast-paced world, how and why is it important to soak communities in the presence and principals of the Kingdom of God?
Dr. J.J. La Poorta: In the year 2013, we introduced a strategy called the “One AFM Game Plan”. We used a sport vernacular to inspire our people. We took it first to the national leadership forum, then shared it with our pastors, then regions and to our assemblies. The idea of the One AFM Game Plan has five drivers which are:Empowerment, Ecumenical Involvement, Community Involvement, Governance and Discipleship. Ecumenical involvement deals with recognizing the body of Christ as all life-giving churches,
working together where possible to fulfil our mission. For many years the AFM has been seeing itself in a polemic relationship with other churches. And now we are saying to our people because we have for a long time been journeying with other churches, it has become our fundamental principal in the church going forward that we have to do it together. We have to do it together with other churches as part and parcel of the kingdom of God. We are not on our own, we have brothers and sisters who don’t sing like us, who don’t think like us, who don’t worship like us but we have to hold hands with them and move together into the communities and soak the communities with the principals of the gospel. Because of our needs in the country unemployment, poverty, inequality the church was spurred on by all these challenges to say we cannot only proclaim Heaven, we need to help people and help them understand that God loves and cares for them. We intend to be Gods servants and Gods agents because we care about the community that is why we need to take the gospel of the Kingdom throughout the communities.
6. Refilwe: Where do you see the church in the next 20 years?
Pastor Mahlobo: We hope that in the next 20 years, the AFM leadership and members would play a prophetic role, that the leadership would be able to bring the message of God even to those that are in power. That they will be able to say no the Lord does not want what you are doing when they are not doing right, and to be able to praise them when they are doing that which is correct. We believe that the prophetic role would be able to be the word of the Lord to those that are in power.
Secondly the church, both in its leaders and members to come closer to people who are spiritually desperate and bring the gospel, hope and faith to them. By word and by deeds.
Dr. J.J. La Poorta: I see the AFM as a custodian of biblical morality, that we will be able demonstrate that which the Lord wants us to be in conduct and that they will also be able to be the light as we are commanded by the word of the Lord. Going forward we also see the church as the barer of hope to the hopeless, help to the helpless, as comfort to the comfortless. The church going into the future is also thinking about getting involved in the ecumenical movement even more. A t the present moment we are researching joining the World Council of Churches as members to make a difference in the community, to make an impact where we are with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Images from the celebration on Sunday, 9th September 2018