Africa in Crisis

This Month's Articles

Africa Editorial


Hope in the Midst of Darkness

Africa is a huge mess. It is riddled with wars, six million dead in the Congo alone, famines, AIDS, poverty, corruption and more. Yet the gospel has made tremendous gains in the 20th Century. How is it that so many have put their faith in Christ and yet the situation does not seem to have improved at all? Should not the transformational power of the gospel have made a greater impact? What went wrong? Africa is an object lesson and a case study of all the things you should not do by both the global world powers and the Church. The global powers, seeking access to Africa’s vast natural riches and human capital, have sought to control the continent for their own benefit. Colonialism and slavery have resulted. Even after the colonial powers left, there is still fierce competition for Africa’s resources, leading to further bloodshed and corruption. In their attempt to fix what they have broken, the global community has flooded the continent with foreign funds and resources, thereby destroying local markets and creating ongoing dependency, and enriching the corrupt leadership of the various countries. It is a lot for any people to overcome.

Tags: africa

Africa in Crisis Feature

Africa in Crisis

Finding Hope in the Midst of Tragedy

Somewhere in the world, in the last week of October, a baby was born who tipped the human population over the 7 billion mark. Statistically there is a high probability this baby is an African. Statistics also tell us this African baby will need to fight for survival, facing the highest child-mortality rates in the world. Such is the irony of Africa: the most likely place, and at the same time the most dangerous place, for a young person to grow up. By the end of the century, Africa will climb from its current population of 1 billion people to over 3.6 billion, an increase from 15% of the world’s population to 30%.1 While the rest of the world’s population is slowing down, Africa’s is accelerating. This rapid growth combined with Africa’s current development state has produced a human tragedy on a scale almost impossible to comprehend. In the last thirty years, over 100 million Africans have died from wars, famine, malnutrition and preventable diseases.2 This ongoing tragedy is compounded by the reality that most of those dying are people who bear the name of Christ. Even more unthinkable is the fact that such tragedy has occurred at the height of Christian power, wealth and influence in the world. But here also is another part of the irony that is Africa. Though billions in aid has been sent from the West, the aid itself is now seen as part of the systemic problem that keeps Africa from moving forward.

Tags: africa

The PEACE Plan in Rwanda Feature

The PEACE Plan in Rwanda

Global Missions Partnership Process that Empowers and Transforms

The efforts of Saddleback Church and the PEACE plan ( in Rwanda under the leadership of pastor Rick Warren is relatively well-known and has been widely reported in the secular and religious press since its inception in 2005. Likewise the phenomena of Short Term Mission going forth from Saddleback Church (more than a thousand STMers to Rwanda alone) have also been the subject of much discussion. However, there is a story within the story, a story of trial and error as a new kind of partnership is in the process of being forged, a partnership in which the partners are striving to honor diversity and wrestling with the reality of globalization and what appropriate models of leadership can look like that will enable the church to fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandment. It is the unfolding story of the integration of national aspiration using cultural appropriateness calibrated by the biblical mandate of being the Body of Christ where every member needs the other.

Tags: great commission, mission

Discipling Africa Through Higher Education Feature

Discipling Africa Through Higher Education

A proposal for an African Christian University

The continent of Africa is the second largest and second most populous continent on Earth, after Asia, including 22.3% of the world’s total land area.1, 2 In terms of Africa’s natural resources, it is the richest continent in the world, having 50 percent of the world’s gold, most of the world’s diamonds and chromium, 90 percent of the cobalt, 40 percent of the world’s potential hydroelectric power, 65 percent of the manganese, and millions of acres of untilled farmland, as well as other natural resources. So, why does Africa remain the world’s poorest and most broken continent in the world? Based on per capita gross domestic product, the world’s 10 poorest countries are in Africa. The United Nations’ Human Development Index (HDI) reveals that 21 of the 25 lowest developed countries are in Africa.5 As a rough estimate of the continent’s educational standing, the latest measurements reveal that 14 of the 15 countries with the lowest literacy rates are also in Africa. While it is difficult to measure a country’s moral standing, the corruption perception index (CPI) attempts to statistically rank countries by their perceived levels of corruption as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys. According to their 2010 results, 13 of the world’s 25 most perceived corrupt nations are found in Africa.

Tags: education

MANI 2011 Abuja, Nigeria Feature

MANI 2011 Abuja, Nigeria

A Continental Commitment to World Evangelization

In 1981, Ralph D Winter predicted in his article Four Men, Three Eras, Two Transitions that the third Era of Protestant missions would be dominated by mission sending from the former mission fields of the non-Western world. The Movement for African National Initiatives (MANI) Continental Consultation held in Abuja, Nigeria September 5-9, 2011 was one more evidence that his foresight has become a vital reality. The consistent focus and zeal for world evangelization displayed in the plenary sessions hearkened back to the heyday of the unreached peoples focus seen in the Urbana student mission conferences in the 1970s and early 1980s. Unlike Urbana, MANI goes beyond motivating and connecting believers for involvement in frontier mission; it brings together key church and mission leaders to strategically plan and collaborate for the evangelization of all the remaining peoples within their respective countries. The movement also helps participants envision the role they could play in the greater task of world evangelization beyond their borders.

Tags: mission, unreached people group, urbana

Community-Based Orphan Care Feature

Community-Based Orphan Care

Africa Models a New Approach to its Orphan Crisis

How do you take care of 15 million orphans and children at risk? This is Africa’s challenge, and it’s not just a problem for governments, NGOs and Oprah Winfrey. Most of Africa’s orphans are from Christian communities, confronting the global Church with one of the greatest humanitarian crises it has ever faced. The traditional approach to this situation is to build tens of thousands of orphanages. Some are certainly trying to do this, among them many notable Hollywood celebrities. But the enormity of the challenge has forced others to rethink the traditional approach. The result may be something which is far superior to the institutional model, and which may actually help bring about change around the world in orphan ministry.

Tags: children

Finishing the Task in East Africa Feature

Finishing the Task in East Africa

Tell us about your journey into frontier missions? As the mission director of my church in Ethiopia it was my job to coordinate efforts to reach the Borana people group of Southern Ethiopia. As I began to do research on the Borana (an Ethiopian tribe of 700,000), I discovered many other nearby unreached peoples and I began to urge our church to begin work among them. Around this time I was also doing my graduate studies with William Carey International University and so I decided to integrate these two, which resulted in a national ethnographic research project.

Tags: mission, people group, unreached people group

Africa Rising? Marginalia

Africa Rising?

One of the most fortunate and profound experiences of my life was growing up for eight years in Sierra Leone, West Africa. As a child, naïve and unconcerned with things like “culture shock” or “missiology,” I simply took for granted my new environment and loved it. Without trying, I learned the national lingua franca called Krio, gobbled up large plates of rice with sauce made from cassava or potato leaves, switched sports from American football to “futbol,” memorized the national anthem (ok, only the first verse) and learned to watch out for driver ants. Yet my African experience was a privileged one in comparison to my friends. I was shielded from many of the realities of the African experience known to them.

Tags: africa

Mapping the Unfinished Task Other

Mapping the Unfinished Task

The Holy Spirit cannot lead you on the basis of information you do not have.” This provocative statement is one which Ralph Winter was often known to recite. Though obviously a generalization, history has demonstrated the reality that the more people know of God’s plan the further the Great Commission has advanced. It was an early dream of the founders of the U.S. Center for World Mission to empower the global body of Christ to understand the state of the unfinished task. Almost 25 years ago, a global mapping project was envisioned that would enable the mission community to zoom into any community in the world through a mapping database and know the status of the gospel there. That day is almost here. Dozens of countries around the world are initiating their own national surveys to identify church planting priorities. As this data is being collected and mapped, a graphic visualization of the progress of the gospel is emerging, revealing both growth and gaps.

Tags: church planting, great commission, map, mission

Ideas Can Be More Powerful Than Money Other

Ideas Can Be More Powerful Than Money

An infamous leader of the Former Soviet Union once said that “ideas are more powerful than guns.” One could add that ideas can be more powerful than money as well. While money often gets used up, good ideas have the potential to keep on giving long after the initial investment is made. To put this another way, this is about the value of an investment of ideas rather than normal philanthropy1. Successfully communicate an idea, and you are making an investment. As I mentioned above, if ideas are introduced appropriately, they can live on in a community long after a financial contribution is used up. One problem with philanthropy is that when it is dissipated, more is often needed to replace it.

Tags: philanthropy

Patron-Client Missions Raising Local Resources

Patron-Client Missions

In 1996, my colleague and I came up with a grandiose idea. We were missionaries in Cambodia and thought we could encourage a local Cambodian church by providing them with a medical team from America. The local church was excited to have American doctors and nurses partner with them in order to give them credibility in their community. The USA medical team visited families in the community; they gave free check- ups, medicine, and vitamins. Cambodian members from the local church served as their interpreters. After these home visits, the medical team informed the local pastor which families had responded to an invitation to accept Jesus and committed to come to church. The following week, a local team from the church went to visit those specific families. Surprisingly, they experienced a chilly reception. People accused them of forsaking their own culture and religion. In addition, the families were disappointed that the Cambodians from the church did not bring medicines, and kept asking when the Americans were going to return.

Tags: fundraising, mission

Giving and Receiving Strategies Further Reflections

Giving and Receiving Strategies

It’s commonplace in missions today to emphasize the need to let new believers decide what is best in their context, under the prayerful guidance of the Bible and the Holy Spirit. Jesus told his disciples that the Father, “will give you another Advocate to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth…he resides with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17, NET Bible). Yes, there is a role for teaching and guiding new disciples, yet we realize that they understand their culture better than we ever can. So rather than promoting or “leading with” our perspectives, we point to truth and guide as necessary. I am not saying we should give up our values or ideas. While our theology (-ies) may not be wrong, those from a very different culture may view specific areas in radically different ways than we do—adding a new dimension of our understanding of God. Perhaps this is one reason we have not seen more progress among the least reached. We see things differently. We prioritize differently. An important issue to us, may not be something that others think about at all.

Tags: mission, perspectives