Is your church involved in overseas missions? New AZMN-IMB partnership offers opportunities

By Irene A. Harkleroad | Jan 10, 2024

IMB missionary John Dina, pictured teaching in Africa, says there are many opportunities for Arizona Southern Baptists to serve as volunteers in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Arizona Mission Network of Southern Baptists is partnering with the International Mission Board to provide opportunities for missions-minded churches and individuals to serve with IMB missionaries in the Sub-Saharan Africa Affinity.

The need for our churches to be involved in missions is monumental.

The population in the Sub-Saharan Africa Affinity is more than 1 billion and includes 43 countries and 400 unengaged, unreached people groups. The population is growing three times faster than the rest of the world, and more than 75% of the world’s internally displaced people are in the Sub-Saharan Africa Affinity. The IMB has no personnel in 17 of the countries there.

“Southern Baptist missionaries have served in Africa for 150 years,” said David Johnson, AZMN executive director. Several Arizona Southern Baptists are currently serving or have served in this region.

“Because of the concentration of lost people groups, we really felt like this is an area where we could contribute and be supportive of our missionaries who are already serving there,” Johnson said.

“We want to offer more opportunities for churches that either want to get involved specifically in this part of the world or those who are not involved, or in partnership, with any other missions,” he said. “It is not the AZMN’s intention to redirect or change where any church may currently be serving.”

Arizonan John Dina and his wife, Wanne, have served together as full-time missionaries in Sub-Saharan Africa for 29 years. Before they met, John served two years as an IMB missionary journeyman in Uganda, first as a fresh-water well driller and then reaching secondary school students. In 1992, the Dinas were appointed career missionaries by the Foreign Mission Board (now IMB). They began serving in Mozambique in 1993, just as people displaced by 30 years of war were relocating to refugee camps in that country.

“We collaborated with local believers to plant churches,” Dina said. “We began with 30 congregations. When we left Mozambique for Kenya in 2023, there were 400 churches.”

In 2016, his work expanded to personnel development and training for IMB missionaries in seven countries and two islands.

Today, John serves in Kenya as IMB affinity trainer for missionaries so they can equip and support pastors and local church leaders throughout the Sub-Saharan Africa Affinity. His primary responsibility is equipping IMB workers to develop leadership, teach the Bible and teach others how to teach and lead their local congregations, then partner with them and serve alongside them.Wanne teaches Bible to local women and children as well as supports the wives of missionaries and pastors through counseling and support.

“There are many opportunities to serve across Sub-Saharan Africa as volunteers,” Dina said. “Short-term, 2-to-3-year opportunities, and long-term as [missionary] apprentices. Digital engagement, social media, trauma counseling, community development and disaster relief are rapidly growing opportunities.”

Partnering with the International Mission Board is a doorway to opportunities working with our IMB missionaries in the cross-cultural environment of Sub-Saharan Africa.
Ten mission trips — ranging from nine days to three months — are set for March through December 2024.

“Some of these trips could be taken without much preparation, because they’re more experiential,” Johnson said, “but if there’s training needed, we will provide it.”

The AZMN commits to keep churches informed about upcoming projects, connecting churches with IMB personnel in the field and providing some assistance for travel.
“I hope many of our churches will take the opportunity to get involved in missions in Sub-Saharan Africa,” Johnson said. “It is life changing. Once you have experienced African culture and African churches, you will never look at worship the same way. It’s an amazing experience. Africa just gets into your soul, and you will never be the same.”

In the 2024 Missions Prayer Guide, Arizona Southern Baptists have devoted the week of February 25 to prayer for the Sub-Saharan Africa Affinity.

For more info about:

  • The work in Africa, go here
  • Mission opportunities, contact Lorri Paetz  at lpaetz@azmn.org
  • Specific prayer needs, go here
  • 2024 mission trips, go here.

Irene A. Harkleroad, a freelance writer living in Carefree, is a member of Black Mountain Baptist Church, Cave Creek.

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