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History of Africans in mission

By Kehinde Ojo

What can be written about 2,000 years of Africans in missions in a 12-page magazine?

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony…. And what more shall I say? For time will fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, and also of David and Samuel and the prophets (and the other Africans in missions).” Hebrews 11:1,2,32,33a

The history of Africans in missions dates back to the first century

The history of Africans in missions dates back to the first century when the civil servant (Finance Minister) from Ethiopia, described as a man of great authority under Candace, the Queen of Ethiopia, visited Jerusalem on pilgrimage. On his return trip, he was converted and baptized through the ministry of Philip the Evangelist. The Bible clearly states that the Ethiopian went on his way rejoicing! A great hallmark of the evangelistic ministry.

How many more African witnesses have been raised across the continent since then? Names such as Ajayi Crowther (Nigeria), Nicholas Bhengu (South Africa), TB Dankwa (Ghana), John Apollo Kivebulaya (Uganda), Rev. Panya Baba (Nigeria), Pius Wakatama (Zimbabwe), Tokunbo Adeyemo (Nigeria) and Geoffrey Osei Mensah (Ghana) come to mind.

These men, through faith, in the modern-day equivalent of Hebrews 11, “subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.” We have them to thank for the HUGE role Africans now play in missionary endeavors throughout the world. Often the important roles of their wives were never mentioned.

A number of global mission agencies are now led by Africans. In many cases, they are the first Africans to lead their respective organisations. Indigenous African churches have planted churches across the globe, including the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), a Nigerian church now in 198 countries as of August 2018!

In this edition, you will read the story of Ethiopia’s engagement in sending missionaries over the last 100 years.

Join us in celebrating the life and work of veteran and pioneer missionary Rev Panya Baba, a former Director of the Evangelical Missionary Society (EMS) of Nigeria. Rev. Baba service to African missionary sending is a reference point for many with respect to the involvement of Africans in missions.

The article on Perspectives captures the story of a Malagasy woman 130 years go, who founded schools and reached pupils in Madagascar with the gospel. The missions engagement of the Tangale people in north eastern Nigeria begins a century ago with evangelists who entered Muslim emirates that no foreigner could go. You will also read of four young Xhosa men who travelled north to Malawi as pioneers among the Ngoni.

It is my prayer that this unique edition of AfriGO will provide an opportunity for you to engage with different countries in Africa and mobilize prayer for the continent of Africa. God bless.

Kehinde Ojo is Program Director for IFES Indigenous Support Development.

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