In those famous verses in Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus tells us to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. In this issue of Connect we consider the remaining task: the parts of the Earth still unreached with the good news of Christ’s salvation and the role that both Westerners and Africans have to play in taking the gospel to those who have yet to hear it. Kola Kehinde is an AIM Europe Board member and also serves as the UK Coordinator for Calvary Ministries (Capro). Here he sets the context for this magazine, gives us an insight into the African church, and provides a challenge for future ministry.
Much appreciation must be given to the marvellous work done over the centuries by Western missionaries to ensure what we have in the African church today. Their engagement raised many churches as well as very seasoned pastors, elders, and other labourers within the local churches.
However, many of the churches became inward looking as age-old denominational ‘differences’ became ingrained in each planted work. Compounding this is the destruction of trust, sown by slave traders among [and between] most African cultures whilst the slave trade lasted, and when the race for African resources by the West thrived. This muddied the evangelism plane for the nascent African church, as they struggled to find identity in the aftermath of these forces.
The church has also been tremendously limited by the lack of trust (from Western missionaries) to allow them to oversee their own churches, their peoples’ evangelisation and develop a local mission theology to drive their kingdom engagements. […] In the last 50 to 60 years however, a movement of African indigenous missions was raised by Western missionaries, willing to enable the African church to engage terrain by themselves.
If Africa still needs Western missionaries, it’s not because Africans cannot do it on their own – Africans are pioneering ministry without Western involvement. The main idea now is synergy. What a force we can be together to impact churches in Africa and churches in the West! The African churches can release missionaries for on-the-ground involvement on the home front and even in the West. At home, they have the language and culture for direct immediate engagement. Any mistrust that has built over time can be dealt with by true discipleship training that touches the heart (and not just the head) culminating in practical life change.