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Growing Need In Africa

Growing Need In Africa

Between 400 and 1400 AD, Africa and Asia were some of the most powerful centers of Christendom. However, with the advent of a new wave of Islamic persecution, the collapse of Christianity in these areas became evident around the 14th century.

Fast-forward to 1876, when our first missionary, Mary Galloway Giffen, shares a haunting vision of Islam’s dominance in our denomination’s first mission field, Egypt: “Fanatical devotion to Mohammedanism is rare except among the poor. But Christianity is not taking its place. There is a great specter stalking through Egypt, and that is infidelity.... the religion of Jesus is nonetheless abhorred [by Islam].”

We know that North Africa’s population is currently 93% Muslim. But we also see today that Islam in sub-Saharan Africa is growing at an incredible rate: “. . . subSaharan Africa will surpass the Middle East-North Africa as the region with the second-largest Muslim population in the next 20 years.”2 By way of encouragement, the African Church is also experiencing phenomenal growth: “. . . a large share of the Christian world is located in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. . . .The number of African Christians is growing at around 2.5 percent annually, which would lead us to project a doubling of the continent’s Christian population in thirty years.”

The rise of both these religions in close proximity is setting the stage for a new era of religious wars. Complicating matters for the African Church are the rise of heresies, such as the “prosperity gospel,” one of the most dangerous theologies spreading through Africa. “The primary distortion the gospel faces in Africa is the prosperity gospel. Although many believers and preachers oppose it, there are few resources addressing it. In many ways the prosperity gospel is being allowed to raid and plunder the church freely. We need more voices in the African church to put up a fight against this false gospel before it’s too late.”

The danger of the prosperity gospel lies, not only in it being unbiblical but also, in the disappointment it leaves in the heart of the Church. It is said in Africa that the prosperity gospel brings people into the front door of the church, and its unfulfilled promises ushers them out the back.

The growth of Islam and spreading of gospel distortions are not reasons for discouragement, but rather challenges to the Christian West to invest people and resources in an area of the world which is becoming the dominate seat of Christianity. In addition, the passion for the Gospel which has swept Africa may be of great benefit for the Western Church. Praying with fervency, evangelizing with zeal, and conducting hospitality with joy are a few examples of things that Africans could teach us. Even as we seek to humbly teach Africa healthy orthodoxy, we can learn from them healthy orthopraxy.

World Witness is fortunate to have an International Ministry Associate (IMA) Benjamin Musuhukye in Rwanda, who sees many of these issues in churches. In fact, the Rwandan government is closing churches where pastors have no official training or education, citing lack of training as cause for cult-like behavior and conflict. Theological education and training are key needs for pastors in combating false gospels and preventing church closures. Of grave concern is the Islamic state of Qatar (and other Gulf states) funding infrastructure projects like building airports, assisting the government in fighting COVID-19, and opening Islamic schools – all with a pro-Islamic agenda. Benjamin wrote World Witness not long ago asking for training for Rwandan pastors who are seeing a rise of Islam in their cities.

Given that Rwanda is one of many African countries facing these same issues, it is evident that Africa is a key battleground for the future of the global Church. Perhaps what Mary Galloway Giffen started in North Africa 150 years ago was foreshadowing the opportunity before us today. Remember though that mission opportunities are only realized when God mobilizes His people to enter into new kingdom endeavors. To that end, please pray with us that the Lord would reveal new partners and missionaries to continue the work begun by our denomination many years ago. Perhaps indeed we are heading back to Africa.

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