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Africa's Azusa Street
Alleluia! Moms, dads, brothers, sisters, family members, relatives: This is the year of salvation!" proclaimed pastor Elmer Komant to 750 Rwandans at Christian Life Assembly, a new Pentecostal church in Kigali, Rwanda.
Moments earlier, a Kigali businessman (a lapsed Catholic) had told the congregation that he'd been born again three days before. Referring to his nominal Christian past, he said, "Christians are God's army. I'd been in the secret service for a long time, but now I'm a soldier." In response, the congregation shouted, cheered, danced, and wept.
Pastor Komant told the crowd, sweltering under the church's large, blue-and-white tent on a hot Sunday morning in mid-January, "This is the result of fasting and prayer and seeking the face of the Lord. Things are happening, Church! Things are going to explode in the kingdom of God as we seek first his righteousness."
Revival in East Africa is a familiar story that shows few signs of slowing down, despite entering its eighth decade. About 85 million Pentecostal and charismatic Christians can be found in Africa today. A hundred years ago, there were only a handful. African Pentecostals and charismatics are growing at about 4.5 percent annually, nearly double the continent's overall rate of population growth. Globally, there are more than 580 million charismatic and Pentecostal Christians.
Pentecostal revival began in East Africa during the 1930s at a tiny Anglican mission station in Gahini, southeast Rwanda. Gahini's missionary physician, Joe Church, and a Ugandan Anglican, Simeoni Nsibambi, were despondent about the lifelessness of African churches, the ruthlessness of colonialism, society's pervasive corruption, and the moral failure of Christian leaders. They felt moved ...1