Anatomy of an Explosion
Taking a close look at the explosion of Christianity in twentieth-century Africa, we meet a remarkable group of colonial-era (roughly 1890 to World War II) apostles who were born, grew up, and ministered in sub-Saharan Africa. We have been inspired and challenged by their stories. We hope you will be, too.
While the story of Christianity's spread in Africa is nothing less than awesome, it is also nothing more than the work of God, who always uses the foolish things of a sin-scarred world as the building material for his body.
Western missions in colonial Africa proceeded by slow, painful steps. The missionaries' best efforts were often hindered by cultural misunderstandings, economic abuses, political agendas, and racist presuppositions. While missionaries were picking their tortuous way through the colonial period, indigenous African evangelists and teachers exploded onto the scene like dynamite. Yes, they worked on the same confused, conflicted landscape as the missionaries. Nonetheless, something happened when the gospel was proclaimed under African sponsorship. It revolutionized the continent.
Within a few short decades, out of the seeds first sown by the missionaries came a profusion of indigenous roots and branches, laden with a lavish variety of flowers and fruit.
How Christianity became African
To help us understand the cultural and spiritual landscape of colonial Africa, we interviewed Dr. Ogbu Kalu, Henry Winters Luce Professor of World Christianity and Mission at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. Kalu, an elder in the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria, came to McCormick in 2001 from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he had served as professor of Church history for 23 years.