Africa has become a buzzing hub for the spread of Christianity among the nations. No longer is the gospel simply shared to Africans by non-Africans, but now God is using the African church to reach the nations. Africa’s vital role in missionary efforts among Muslims demonstrates the strength of the Christian faith in Africa. The harvest may be plentiful and the laborers may be few, but African Christians are ready to be laborers in God’s harvest field.
The Strength of the African Church
Given the negative link to colonial rule, many assumed that Africans would reject Christianity once their countries gained independence from European nations. In God’s sovereignty, the opposite occurred. Today, there are more churches in Africa than ever before in history.
Studies indicate that there are up to 700 million Christians in Africa today, making it the continent with the largest Christian population, with the fastest-growing population found in sub-Saharan Africa. However, while Christianity is not new to Africa, African churches are rediscovering their Christian heritage from thousands of years ago.
The New Testament tells us of three Africans who played an important part in the biblical narrative: Simon of Cyrene, the Ethiopian Eunuch, and Apollos. Simon was a man from the modern-day nation of Libya who was compelled by Roman soldiers to carry Jesus’ cross (Mark 15:21). The Eunuch who encountered Philip and was later baptized because he believed in the gospel of Jesus was an Ethiopian (Acts 8). Apollos, the man who partnered with Paul in sharing the gospel around the Mediterranean, was from Alexandria––a major city in Egypt (Acts 18).
North African church fathers also played a significant role in laying the theological groundwork for the early church, as evidenced by African theologians such as Athanasius of Alexandria (Egypt), Augustine of Hippo (Algeria), and Tertullian of Carthage (Tunisia) to name a few. The works of these early Christian writers remain among the most influential Christian writings ever.
Africans have always been a vital part of the Christian faith, we’re simply recovering our historic Christian heritage.
Africans have always been a vital part of the Christian faith, we’re simply recovering our historic Christian heritage. Today, God continues to use his church in Africa in phenomenal ways as the church experiences an Acts 16:5 like blessing from the Lord where “the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.” Praise the Lord!
The Overflow into the World
But Africans are not just impacting the church in Africa, they are doing so across the globe. This is especially seen in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where many churches are either planted, pastored, or attended by Africans. In Dubai, five of the pastors at the Evangelical Christian Church of Dubai are from Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Zambia, or Ghana.
In Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, the Evangelical Community Church Abu Dhabi has elders from Ethiopia and Kenya, and New Life Church in Abu Dhabi is led by a plurality of elders that includes several elders from Angola and South Africa. In fact, the Evangelical Community Church Abu Dhabi recently announced they were sending one of their pastors, Nigussie Yadete, to plant a gospel-preaching church in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
These churches are not just led by Africans, but are filled with African members who have moved to the UAE for education or work opportunities. In God’s kindness, the faith of African Christians is not contained within the continent, but is being taken by Africans to the ends of the earth for God’s glory.
Africans Laboring in God’s Harvest Field
The current growth and strength of the Christian faith is one that I am blessed to be witnessing and look forward to observing.
Africans need to be continuously encouraged to see themselves as those whom Jesus commissioned in Matthew 28 to go and make disciples of all nations. We are no longer simply those who receive the gospel, but now, through the Spirit, we are those who proclaim the gospel.
We are no longer simply those who receive the gospel, but now, through the Spirit, we are those who proclaim the gospel.
God has enabled us to be the bearers of the good news of the forgiveness of sins that is found through faith in Jesus. It’s time to start being strategic in our thinking––how can we take what we have to the rest of the world?
In 2020, an estimated 19.5 million Africans were living outside Africa. By 2030, that number is expected to rise to 20 million. If thousands of Africans leave Africa, why don’t we make sure that they take the gospel with them? African Christians must not ignore the extraordinary opportunity presented to us by discipling the next generation of believers to grow in Christian maturity.
Whether you are African or not, my hope is that reading God’s marvelous work in and through Africans will encourage you to seek to share the gospel wherever you find yourself.
Join millions of African Christians as we pray that our “love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment, so that we may approve the things that are superior and may be pure and blameless in the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9–11 CSB).