Recapturing Africa’s Story And Identity For God’s Purposes.

Africans and Africa have always been in the thick and thin of the story of the Bible and the World Christian Movement. By God’s design, we have participated in shaping Christianity through the ages in significant ways. Now, this is not a drive to build our sense of self-esteem as Africans, even though it matters! Look, if others have the audacity, without any sense of embarrassment, to call Augustine of Hippo the “first truly Western man,”1 we have every right to set the record straight. Augustine and others mentioned in this book who have long been Westernized in Western scholarship were African, whether they lived in the North or South or went to school in Athens or Rome. We are simply stating historical facts of biblical proportions, and we want to recapture our own story and identity for God’s purposes. Our true story, and identity, matters. As we would soon come to see, the identity crisis of Africans is a major barrier to the movement of Africa to the Rest. We have not always been at the bottom, neither have others always been at the top. And whether at the bottom or the top is ultimately immaterial, what matters is that God has been at work in, amongst and through us from the beginning! It’s about Christ in us, our hope of glory!

The reality is that our past participation in God’s grand story is heartily inspiring and powerful; it’s a God story, and one that matters greatly especially in the times we’re living in. We dare to say so because others have dared to radically distort our heritage as a curse story, an entirely dark story using modern prejudices of colour. And now, more than ever, we must recapture our own story in God’s purposes, as we once again, by God’s providence, get thrust at the centre of the modern World Christian Movement. Another key reason our past participation matters is because of how many African folks, some of whom we personally know, have walked away from Christianity thinking it is a non-African, Eurocentric, oppressive religion 2. Bantu is instructive, “This is a critique of the church that must be taken seriously and should not be dismissed…. The western/white captivity of the church is a profound obstacle to the reception of the gospel.” If there is that much repulsion to cause some African people to walk away from the Christian faith, then how much of an onus lies on the ‘remnant’ to not only retain and own but also passionately spread it abroad! We must own our part in the God story if we are to be passionate proclaimers of the gospel, what our own eyes have seen, and our hands have touched from the beginning till now! Even as we look back, we are keenly aware that the present and the future are beckoning us to greater participation in God’s global mission. 

We are persuaded that Africa must arise from the place of self-doubt and overcome an imposed identity based on worldly hierarchies, incomplete histories, and distorted stories. If we humble ourselves and have our mind and spirit renewed in God and His agenda, our participation in God’s mission in this age could be the most consequential in the history of world Christianity. We must recognize the times and seasons in God’s purposes and our privileged participation in it. We resonate with this prophetic declaration that,

Africa may yet prove to be the spiritual conservatory of the world.

Just as in past times, Egypt proved the stronghold of Christianity after

Jerusalem fell, and just as the noblest and greatest of the Fathers of the

Christian Church came out of Egypt, so it may be, when the civilized

nations, in consequence of their wonderful material development,

shall have their spiritual perceptions darkened and their spiritual

susceptibilities blunted through the agency of a captivating and

absorbing materialism, it may be that they may have to resort to

Africa to recover some of the simple elements of faith; for the

promise of the land is that she shall stretch forth her hands unto God.3

Deep down, our souls echo with the words of the psalmist, “Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honour and comfort me once again.” 4 Again, Lord, again: Africa from mission field to mission force!

Many evangelical scholars, theologians and missiologists are resolute in joining Vance Bantu in these “two interrelated and indispensable tasks going forward: (1) the deconstruction of the western, white cultural captivity of the Christian tradition and (2) the elevation of non-western expressions of Christianity.” 5 In doing so, the goal is neither the cultural idolatry of non- western cultures nor a prescription for abhorrence of another. Rather, this shift in focus is motivated by the continued realization of the kingdom of God through embracing the image of Jesus Christ among every tribe, tongue, and nation.

By Angelina Adubiri-Gyimah


Sam Ngugi & Yaw Perbi, (2020). Africa To The Rest (From Missions Field To Mission Force Again).

1 Krister Stendahl. Paul Among Jews and Gentiles and Other Essays (Philadelphia: Fortress Press 1976), 16

2 Vince L. Bantu mentions this critique in A Multitude of All Peoples as well as Glenn Usry and Craig S. Keener, Black Man’s Religion: Can Christianity Be Afrocentric? (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 21. 

3 Bantu, Vince L. A Multitude of All Peoples, 4, 6

 Edward Wilmot Blyden and Samuel Lewis, Christianity, Islam, and the Negro Race (Mansfield Centre, CT: Martino Publishing, 2016), 124.

4 Psalm 71:20-21, emphasis ours 

5 Ibid, 6. 


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