Thursday, September 1, 2011

Early Christian Missionaries

The first person recorded in the Scriptures to have been baptized outside of Jerusalem was an African man. St. Phillip was directed by the Lord to travel towards Gaza, where he met the Ethiopian eunuch who was an important court official to Queen Candace of Ethiopia.  This man took his new Christian faith 3,000 kilometers into Africa along the Nile River.  During the first two centuries of the Christian faith, the strongest churches were in North Africa and Western Asia.  The first Christian university was in Africa, established in 180 A.D. in the city of Alexandria.  When Portuguese missionaries arrived in Ethiopia in 1603 they were surprised  to discover many Christians there, who were members of a church that was older than their own!

When the first Asian and African Christian missionaries entered Europe, they found people groups who worshiped many gods, practiced witchcraft, and even participated in human sacrifice.  Christianity was not the invention nor the property of the White man - he received it from his Asian and African brothers.  The consequent spread of Christianity across Europe ( and later the Americas) had a profound impact upon their native cultures.  Where would the White man be today without the efforts of those early missionaries?  It was the fruits of Christianity that brought about advancements in the sciences, laws, education and the arts and humanities.  Without the Gospel, we would still be "heathens".  Praise God that the Light of the Gospel dawned upon us who were living in the region of the shadow of death! (Mat. 4:16)

Christianity stopped spreading in Africa around the 7th century, mostly due to the influence of Islam.  It wasn't until the 17th century with the arrival of European missionaries that it began to grow again.  The Christian faith is now alive and flourishing well in the African continent.  The 20th century especially has seen astonishing rate of growth for the African church.  Having seen the decline of the church in the Western cultures, African Christians have begun to send missionaries in that direction once again.  We have the Africans and Asians to thank for bringing us the Gospel the first time; and they may very well be the ones who bring spiritual revival to our lands today.

Our work of bringing ministry education to the African church is not only for their benefit.  It is also for the benefit of our own spiritual future.  Let us be grateful that God has allowed us to be a part of this process.

May the peace of Christ be with you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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