"Let African Christians be Christian Africans"
The year is 1974 and the place a broken-down hospital being remodeled into mission agency offices in Jos, Nigeria. Four men gather in a dusty worksite surrounded by plastic tarps shaping the "office" of Byang Kato, a young African with capable bearing and laugh creases at the corners of his eyes. In tones more typical of casual conversation among friends than a business meeting, three SIM missionaries give reports to their African boss. Then the conversation turns global. Someone asks, "Byang, what do you hope long-range for Africa, for the future of Christianity here?"
"African Christianity is being consumed by a dreadful disease," he says. "We must find a cure for our theological anemia." Quickly, as if unleashed, Kato outlines a plan.
In the next hour, Kato spelled out four tools that he believed would support steady, responsible development of genuine Christianity across Africa:
- We need evangelical African scholars writing and publishing African theology.
- We need graduate schools in theology so that our best students do not leave the continent in order to learn: one school in French-speaking Africa in the west and another in English-speaking Africa in the east.
- We need a journal. African scholars of theology will seek a place to publish their ideas and read the responses of their evangelical peers across the continent.
- We need an accrediting agency to set standards of theological education and monitor the progress of schools in order to maintain those standards. Scholars throughout the world will want to know what African-educated theologians think about Jesus.
The four men spent the next hour or so strategizing how Kato, in his new position as General Secretary of the continent-wide Association of Evangelicals in ...