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Vidar Ligard | Missionary Work in East Africa – A Mile Wide and An Inch Deep


It has been said that Christianity in East Africa is a mile wide and an inch deep. On today’s podcast, I talk to Vidar Ligard about how to effectively disciple people in Africa using long-term strategies instead of quick band-aid fixes. 


Website: www.safarimission.org 

Book: A Fork in the Road Order Now:  https://amzn.to/33iwhKN 

Show Notes: 

How did you get started in the ministry? 

You focus on East Africa. What nations are considered East Africa? 

In your promotional video it says that Christianity in East Africa is a mile wide and an inch deep, what do you mean by that and how are you fixing the problem?  

You focus on long-term strategies instead of quick band-aid fixes, how do you do that? 

How many students have graduated from your Bible school? 

What is your ministry doing to evangelize in East Africa? What do you think are the best long-term strategies for evangelism? 

How are you training pastors and leaders in East Africa? 

Goma, Congo – The city where Daniel & Jessica met. 

Kisumu, Kenya – Jessica King lived here for one year. 

Kahama, Tanzania – Daniel is going in November. 

Nairobi is Kenya’s capital city. It has a population of 4.397 million. Kenya has a population of 51.39 million. 

Quote from VIdar Ligard: You may have heard it said, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” What would happen if you taught a leader in his or her community to fish? You have just impacted many lives by investing in one. That is the heart and the vision at the core of Safari Mission. Training leaders in godly principles, which address every aspect of life—work ethics, financial wisdom, family dynamics, leadership skills, civic duties—is the essence of Safari Mission.


Daniel King (00:00):

It has been said that Christianity in East Africa is a mile wide, but only an inch deep on today’s podcast. I talked to my guest about how to effectively disciple people in Africa using longterm strategies instead of quick bandaid fixes


Intro (00:21):

Jesus said go into all the world and preach the gospel. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Welcome to the evangelism podcast with dr. Daniel King we’re Daniel interviews, fulltime evangelists, pastors, missionaries, and normal everyday Christians to discover how they share their faith, their powerful testimonies and amazing stories that will inspire you to reach people with the good news. And now here’s your host, missionary and evangelist Daniel King.


Daniel King (00:57):

Welcome. Welcome. Welcome to the evangelism podcast. I am with a missionary to East Africa. He graduated from Ramo and or Roberts university here in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and has been planting Ramo Bible schools in East Africa. His name is Vidar Lee guard. Did I say that right? You got it, Daniel. Great. Great to be on here with you. Thank you so much for being on the podcast. He is ministry is called Safari mission. And tell me, how did you get started in the ministry? Great question. We started in 1999, I took a missions trip to East Africa. I’d always been wanting to do some work in Africa came to Kenya and spent quite some time just observing what ministries had overdid, done, what the needs were. And that took us several years. We did some teaching in churches with it, some pastor seminars.


Vidar Ligard (02:03):

And after a while we realized there’s a huge need here for, for training of ministers. And so we focused on that since 2006. Now your, your accent says you’re not from America. Where are you from originally Norway? Via Oklahoma to, to East Africa. So is your, is your wife from Norway as well? My wife and I are both from Norway. So how did you end up here in Tulsa, Oklahoma? Well, Tulsa, Oklahoma, for many as known as the buckle of the Bible belt. And so you know, there’s a lot of reputable ministries in Tulsa or Roberts university, Tia laws born Kenneth egg and many others since we’re very blessed here. We’ve had some great men and women of God that have lived here in Tulsa. Yeah, absolutely. So, so you came from Norway here to Tulsa. Did you come to go to Bible school? I came for training. I actually came for high school. It was a foreign exchange student at victory Christian school with Billy Joe at the time. That’s


Evangelism Coach Daniel King (03:00):

Where my kids go to school. So


Vidar Ligard (03:02):

Yeah, great school. That’s right. And so continued training and Tulsa. And then when we were done with training, that’s when we launched out in, in Africa with Safari mission,


Evangelism Coach Daniel King (03:11):

You went from Norway to Tulsa now in East Africa. And in your focus now is on East Africa. So what nations are considered East Africa?


Vidar Ligard (03:23):

It depends a little on your definition, but Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania is always included. Rwanda Burundi, South Sudan. Somalia would be some other nations in the area. Ethiopia be included. Yes. Depending on, is it East Africa or Eastern Africa? There’s a technical difference there. So just how wide do you want the,


Evangelism Coach Daniel King (03:46):

So you, you lived in Kenya for a while. What, what city did you live in?


Vidar Ligard (03:52):

I have lived in Kisumu, which is on Lake Victoria. We’ve spent some time in Mombasa, which is on the ocean and we’ve also lived in Nairobi.


Evangelism Coach Daniel King (04:01):

Okay. So my wife, Jessica actually lived in Kasuma for a whole year. Before we got married, she was a missionary and she lived in several different countries. She was in India for two years in Nepal for a year, Papa new Guinea for a year, and then in consumer. So she loves cause sumu loves the people there. And Jessica and I actually met in East Africa in Goma. Congo. Have you ever been


Vidar Ligard (04:27):

Goma? I have not been to gomban to Eastern Congo, but Goma is on the radar for us.


Evangelism Coach Daniel King (04:32):

A Goma is right there on the border with Rwanda and Congo and it’s it’s a great city. You should go. Yeah,


Vidar Ligard (04:39):

A lot of need there. It’s on the plan for 2021 for us. So outstanding. Wonderful.


Evangelism Coach Daniel King (04:45):

And so tell me about your, your work that you do there and East Africa and what your focus is.


Vidar Ligard (04:52):

Sure. It’s, it’s a training of leaders is really what we do. And so this is evangelism podcast. We train evangelists, but also other ministers pastors. And then we do the training of a lot of community leaders entrepreneurs police officers various government officials, anybody with any kind of leadership aspirations in the community. We involve them in our training program.


Evangelism Coach Daniel King (05:17):

And you have several Bible schools in different places. Where are your Bible?


Vidar Ligard (05:23):

Well, we started out rural so we have a good number of rural locations. One is on the border to Somalia other rural occasions, some towns. And now we’re also in Nairobi in the middle of the business district of Nairobi. So we were both ends of the spectrum, so to speak.


Evangelism Coach Daniel King (05:41):

And so when you say your, your training leaders, are those people who are coming to the Bible school or are you doing training sessions for policemen or training sessions for the different?


Vidar Ligard (05:55):

We have done both. The police, the, the administrative police in Kenya, which is more of a military type police. They actually came to us the chief chaplain of the entire, that division of the police came to us and said, Hey can you help with the spiritual training for our chaplains? And so that’s been a program that we have tailored for the police chaplains in the country and help train them. And then we have all their civilian campuses, if you will where people all different walks of life, they come to us and we help train them.


Evangelism Coach Daniel King (06:28):

So over the years, how many students have


Vidar Ligard (06:32):

Weighted from your Bible schools? It’s in the ballpark of a four 50 to 500 that we have brought through it. And then we have a two year program.


Evangelism Coach Daniel King (06:40):

And many of them have now launched out into full time ministry and are planting churches doing evangelism, that type of thing. Yes. We have about


Vidar Ligard (06:50):

380 churches in Kenya where we have trained up the senior leadership in those churches.


Evangelism Coach Daniel King (06:55):

That’s tremendous. So I watched your promotional video and it says that one of the problems that you’re addressing is that Christianity in East Africa is a mile wide and an inch deep. So what do you mean by that and how are you fixing the problem?


Vidar Ligard (07:15):

Well, that’s, that’s a common saying that there is another, I don’t know if you’d call it controversial necessarily, but there’s a saying in Nairobi in particular, that Nairobi has almost been crusaded to death. Meaning there’s, there’s been so much evangelism in certain cities in Africa. Typically


Evangelism Coach Daniel King (07:35):

They go to Kenya, they stay in Nairobi. Yes. In Kenya is much bigger than just the capital city,


Vidar Ligard (07:42):

Right? So the, you know, the cities is where you can find comfort. So it’s easier to bring a missions team and, and, and that type of a thing. Well, there’s been a lack of discipleship. And so in the big cities where there’s been a lot of evangelism, there hasn’t necessarily been a lot of churches for these new commerce to plug into. And a lot of the churches have modeled their churches according to how mass evangelism has done. So they’re trying to do a crusade every single Sunday, which doesn’t necessarily produce spiritual growth. And so it’s, it’s, it’s a situation where the evangelism evangelists and, and the teachers and the pastors have not always been working together. Now, if you go out in the countryside, it’s, it’s different. There, there are huge needs for mass evangelism out in rural Africa.


Evangelism Coach Daniel King (08:35):

And so tell me about what your, your ministry is doing to, to deepen Christianity in East Africa.


Vidar Ligard (08:45):

Yeah, so it’s, it’s a, you know, a two year training program where we go through spiritual formation discipleship, how to grow spiritually to lay the more of the ethical foundation is part of it. Also. sometimes we forget when we come from the Western world that, you know, the Western world is built on a Judea Christian worldview. So somebody gets saved in the Western world. They already know about lying and stealing, and they’ve heard a 10 commandments and grew up with it, even if they didn’t grow up in church. Well, in a place where its society is not built in Judea Christian worldview, you have to spend a lot more time building that worldview into people. It doesn’t come by just three hours in a new believers class, it takes a lot more than that. So, so we take the leaders through a curriculum, and then the, the idea there is that these leaders then turn around and train whoever they are over.


Vidar Ligard (09:44):

If it’s a chaplain in the police, they have helped train a lot of police officers, a pastor in the church would of course, train pastors, a business person of course impacts employees, which impacts families and that type of thing. So if someone gets saved, how long do you think the discipleship process takes before they start to be able to lead others and become a mature believer? Well, I think there are two different ways. You can answer it one way to answer that is that a discipleship never ends. We’re all growing. Even a mature Christian is, is still growing. That is true. I’m still a disciple of Jesus. Exactly. And every day at the other hand, you know, you don’t have to be saved for two years before you start leading other people to Christ. But I think, you know, if you look at Paul and how he dealt with the Corinthian church, and he says, for, by this time you ought to be teachers. And you’re looking at two or three years time period where somebody ought to be pretty stable and pretty mature. If, if trained and proper growth opportunities have been given, what do you feel is your primary spiritual gifting?


Daniel King (11:02):

It’s a good question. I’m called to be an evangelist. I, I I’ve known I was called to be an evangelist ever since I was very young and been pursuing that. And of course, God gives different gifts to the body of Christ and all the gifts are needed. What would you say is your primary area of gifting?


Speaker 4 (11:19):

I think I’m teaching


Vidar Ligard (11:22):

Mentoring pioneer work. Some people call that an apostle. I don’t know that I necessarily use that label myself because it’s got so many different connotations to it. So usually when people call themselves an apostle, they rarely are, but usually in order to be an apostle, other people put that label on you. Yeah. So it’s, it’s, you know, we, we go in and we establish works. We mentor people to help them establish works. So let me use that descriptions instead. And then we do a lot of teaching. Mentoring is not really a biblical term, but apostle is, I think it’s mentioned 83 times in the new Testament. Yeah. Yeah. Mentorship. I never found it in the new King James version. Well, you have teacher teacher there, so yeah. Yeah. So talk to me about evangelism. What is your ministry doing to evangelize in East Africa?


Vidar Ligard (12:20):

And what do you think are the best longterm strategies for evangelism? There, there are so many different types of evangelism. You have massive Angeles with crusade, or you can, you know, evangelize using a TV program where you’re reaching the masses, but you’re not necessarily building a personal relationship with people. And that works very effectively in areas where the gospel is not very well known. You’ve got healing evangelism where you incorporate miracles and that type of thing in, in mass evangelism. And again, very effective where there hasn’t been a lot of church growth. But we find that personal evangelism training church members to reach their neighbors is much more effective where there’s already been a lot of crusade evangelism. So I think it’s a, it’s all of it. Even though I’m not necessarily an evangelist myself, we help train. And Paul even told Timothy do to work on an evangelist, even though he wasn’t necessarily an evangelist himself we all have a part to play in evangelism.


Vidar Ligard (13:26):

And so we’re very mindful of that. And we have a lot of great, great reports from the people that we train, who do go out personal evangelism, pastors that have great evangelistic programs in their churches. And we have graduates that do mass evangelism as well. How do you coach evangelists? Well, it’s, it’s difficult to duplicate myself and produce an evangelist like that when I’m not one myself. So one of the best ways we do it is the instructors that we have in the school teaching evangelism class. We make sure that they have results in that area. And that’s, that’s how we find instructors. We will look for people with results, not just people with some theoretical knowledge of how it ought to be done, or it could be done or should be done. So we do that for every class. If it’s family class, it better be somebody who’s got a good reputation for a good family life at home. That person is qualified for the best person to teach. The family class is not the person that’s been married seven times. They’re, they’re very experienced, but maybe they’re not the best one to teach that might be experienced in the part of the process. But yeah, no, you look for people who are successful and then you, you you work with them and help, you know, have them train certain aspects of what you’re trying to instill into students. So in your, your Bible schools, would you do a whole class or a series of classes on evangelism?


Evangelism Coach Daniel King (14:52):

Yeah. Weaning them in evangelism. Yeah.


Vidar Ligard (14:54):

We have a couple of classes on evangelism. One of them is where students actually have to do well. The one class they have to do personal evangelism and the other class, there’s a massive anilism that they actually have to go out and do some of it by so we teach by preset and by example, and by practical work that that students have to do


Evangelism Coach Daniel King (15:16):

When I teach classes on personal evangelism, a big part of the passing grade is if they actually go out and tell someone about Jesus, I require them to actually go out and evangelize. Otherwise it’s just theory,


Vidar Ligard (15:31):

Where does same way in, in our classes, you have to actually have a log of who did you talk to?


Evangelism Coach Daniel King (15:38):

That’s great. That’s tremendous. Yeah. Now you’ve heard, it said, give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed them for a lifetime, but I get the sense that in your ministry, you’re trying to teach people how to go fishing. And so talk to me about how that process works and in how you empower people


Vidar Ligard (16:04):

To start too


Evangelism Coach Daniel King (16:07):

Feed themselves, rather than just going, just, just asking for someone else to feed them.


Vidar Ligard (16:12):

So let me just give you a very practical example of that. Children’s ministry has an area that is often neglected many places. And so we brought people from overseas and bring them in to train children’s ministry. And we tell them, leave all your toys and gadgets at home, which is very hard for somebody to do when they’re coming on the, on a missions trip, because you want to give all these kids the best that you have and give them a wonderful experience and so forth. And that’s that’s okay. But the problem with that is that if you bring a lot of toys from the United States


Evangelism Coach Daniel King (16:51):

About the puppets, the little magic tricks, the exactly, exactly. All that fancy stuff.


Vidar Ligard (16:58):

We tell the people to leave it at home because we are not looking for a group of people coming from the United States to give the kids a great one time experience. We’re looking for people to come and give the kids an experience that the locals are able to duplicate, which you can’t do. If you’re bringing in, you know, toys with price tags, that they can’t buy themselves. So we go in and say, Hey, you know, pencils, maybe crayons, maybe paper that’s available in country in any church can do that. So we required them to stick with materials that are available to locals and the budgets that they have to work with. And then we say, now create the children’s experience in this church that the children’s workers in that church can duplicate. And what we see then that multiple churches come together. Sometimes it’s, children’s ministers from 30 different churches, and they’re given an example that they go, Oh, I can do this.


Vidar Ligard (17:59):

Then they go back to the 30 churches and actually start implementing changes in the children’s ministry. And we find that longterm it’s so much more effective than to bring in the whatever toys we’re bringing in from the United States. That’s a tremendous illustration. That’s wonderful too, to really empower local believers, to do what you’re doing. If it can’t be duplicated, then they’re just sitting and watching a show. Yeah. And I think that’s, what’s been done with so much of the missions work that we see overseas. It’s, it’s done in such a way. It’s, it’s got a great wow factor, but it’s not always duplicatable. And so you end up with all these churches that are looking for just another missionaries that will help feed them another fish. Well, thank you so much for being on the podcast. I appreciate it. Thanks for having man


Ending (18:51):

For more information about how to share your faith or to financially support our worldwide evangelistic outreaches, visit King ministries.com. Again, that’s King ministries.com.

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