Africa Still Needs Missionaries

A while ago I mentioned an article by the atheist Matthew Parris which said that Africa needs God. A little later, I reflected a bit more on that article, this time not seeing it in quite such a positive light.  With these thoughts in mind, it was good to see an article on Ben’s blog saying that Africa still needs missionaries:

According to Philip Jenkins, historian and author of The Next Christendom, the Christian church is currently growing faster in Africa than on any other continent. If this is true, then why on earth should any more missionaries go to Africa? Surely there is a greater need for missionaries in places like Europe and North America, where the church appears to be in decline, or in the Middle East, where the church is small and growing more slowly. African Christians must be doing something right to experience such amazing church growth. How could missionaries from elsewhere contribute anything significant to the evangelistic efforts of the African church? It’s very expensive to fly missionaries across an ocean, educate their children and provide them with health insurance and a retirement plan. As outsiders, perhaps the most efficient and effective way of promoting evangelism in Africa would be to focus our resources exclusively on issues like poverty, AIDS, infant mortality, corruption and war. Through this investment, African Christians will be better equipped to tackle the task of spreading the gospel, a task they are clearly capable of handling themselves.

I’ve regularly heard this type of argument in the US and occasionally in Africa as well. This argument is persuasive, in no small part because it holds a lot of truth. Africa’s poverty, disease and conflict are crushing evils that demand a response from Christians worldwide. The African church is a model for Christians around the world in its vision and faith in the midst of suffering. The Holy Spirit is working through many African evangelists who are extremely effective at spreading the gospel without any outside help or expertise. Missionaries are desperately needed in many parts of the world besides Africa, and missionaries from distant lands, North Americans and Europeans in particular, are indeed expensive to send and sustain overseas. (read more)

3 thoughts on “Africa Still Needs Missionaries

  1. Eddie, this is an interesting article, but it is a shame that you were not able to summarise the rest of it. Basically what this writer is saying is that Muslim areas and people groups in Africa need missionaries. Muslims are the focus of all three of his points. Also he says African Christians need more resources, but that basically means money, not people, although sometimes money is only sent where people have also been sent.

    But the Christian majority areas and people groups of Africa don’t need missionaries, surely, as the church is growing well enough without them. Yes, there are exceptions where outsiders are needed for technical tasks such as Bible translation, but even these needs can increasingly be met from within Africa.

    So I think you would have done better to entitle this post “Islamic Africa needs missionaries”, as of course does the rest of the Islamic world. Of course the challenge is then how to get them there, and keep them safe when they are there.

  2. I also think cross-pollinating the church is a good idea. In other words, I think sending Christian workers in both directions is good for the global church.

  3. I see what you are saying Peter, but in this instance, I really wanted people to read Ben’s post and not my comments. I thought that by putting my title, and then the introduction from Ben’s blog, which seemed to contradict the title it would make people read the full thing. I don’t know if it worked, but the twisted logic is mine.

    Yes, Ben, I agree that we need a global mission movement with people going from everywhere to everywhere. The problem here is that too many British people, Christians included, would find it hard to be ministered to by someone from Africa. It’s sad.

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