An Interview with Jim Pool, Regional Coordinator for Sub-Saharan Africa

I pastor the Renaissance Vineyard Church, which my wife and I planted on the north side of Detroit. For six years, I've been leading the U.S. arm of the Vineyard Ethiopia Partnership. I also serve on the Vineyard Missions Leadership Team as Regional Coordinator for Sub-Saharan Africa. This is my second year.

What sort of work is Vineyard Missions doing in Africa?

Local Vineyard churches are the heart of Vineyard missions. We have partnerships from the U.S. in 12 countries, plus Vineyard work happening in at least a half-dozen others. They are planting Kingdom-oriented churches. They are working on a number of compassion and justice projects: Developing water purification projects, running orphanages and discipleship houses for children, starting small businesses employing local workers, coaching locals in sustainable farming practices, and more. And at every level they are working to train and coach local leaders to take over leadership of these works, so that we can raise up and release culturally contextualized national Vineyard movements across the continent. The African Vineyard Missions team supports these local churches and leaders in all this varied work.

What should we know about the African Vineyard right now?

It's a strategic time in the emerging and existing Vineyard movements around Africa. It's a time for deepening discipleship at all levels -- leaders and church members -- and for empowering the next generation. It's also a key time for igniting catalytic church planting movements; many of the nations have made good starts, and now we want to build on this foundation. One of the most exciting developments is the expansion of the Vineyard School of Ministry Africa -- theological education and pastoral leadership training that is thoroughly African.

Why does this work matter?

While it's true that there have been centuries of mission activity in Africa, many generations were never effectively discipled as followers of Jesus, and new generations increasingly face many of the same challenges we face in the U.S. The global face of Christianity is more likely to look African than American. Literally, we have an epic opportunity to speak into the heart of Christian leaders for the next century and more, empowering them to be faithful and fruitful leaders in God's Kingdom. Beyond that, the work for compassion and justice is still huge, and there's a great opportunity for local churches to make a huge difference as we partner together.

How can we connect with this work?

The single best way to connect with me is by email at jim@vmteam.org. You can also find me on Facebook. I'd love to hear your story -- what God depositing in your heart, what's your passion, what country are you interested in or what kind of work is God giving you to do? I'll do my best to connect you to the churches and people doing something similar. You can also reach out to your local pastor and find out what kind of mission work you are doing already.

What else?

An old African proverb says, "If you want to run fast, run alone. If you want to run far, run together." The Kingdom of God is breaking through across Africa, and we want to take it as far as God will give us the grace to go. To do this, we need your help.