1997 – World Trade Centre, Nasrec, Johannesburg: Fanie Richter and Laetitia Bull man a booth at a missions expo. A Ghanaian pastor, dr. Koduah, stops to learn more about Petra Institute and requests to receive the newsletter in future.
Later, he played an important role in the relationship between the Institute and the Church of Pentecost (COP), and the ultimate partnership with them. In time, many leaders of the COP became part of the growing relationship between the Institute and the COP. The church has a membership of around 2 million persons, of which around 500 000 are children. It already planted churches in 97 countries around the world. Since 2000, the partnership grew:
- 10 Pastors are in an advanced stadium to qualify as mentors.
- 121 Pastors and leaders are involved in advocacy for children and children’s ministry, training and leadership training in the COP. The training of the above leaders started in 2013. 42 000 Children were reached during 2014!
- Petra Institute is involved in an advisory capacity of the development of a children’s ministry centre at the theological training centre of the COP, as well as the integration of a child-centered focus in their training.
- We are also in discussions with COP churches in South Africa as well as Madagascar.
- Petra Institute was also closely involved in the planning and presentation of a Pan-African conference for children’s ministers in Ghana, called “Discovering New Trends in Children’s Ministry. Dirk Coetseee, Viola Fransman and Rudi Mans, and several mentors from various countries in Africa (including our partners in Ethiopia and Chad) led discussions. The goal was to see how children’s ministry is done in Africa; new ways of doing children’s ministry, for example, relational, intergenerational and holistically. We also looked at what kind of leadership is needed, different types of training that is available and what is effective. 25 Speakers addressed the 1,100 delegates from across Africa. One delegate said, “I’ve never been at a conference where there was so much opportunity to participate in the discussions. Delegates could respond in small groups and through a WhatsApp group.” Someone else said: “I have attended many conferences and usually there are many people outside the venue busy with other things. This is the first time that no one walked in the passages or spent time on their phones or computers. The leaders were part of the group and very approachable.”
- The delegates now have a much deeper understanding of children’s ministry (holistic, intergenerational and relational).
Many young people attended the conference and they are determined to challenge the leadership in their churches to be more child-friendly, to cooperate and not to isolate children from adults. They realise that they must take responsibility for the children, but they should be much better equipped for this task. There were also many networking opportunities.