Christianity in Africa: Past and Present, Part 2

Stephen Nichols (SN): We are picking up the conversation we started last week with the Reverend Ken Mbugua from Nairobi, Kenya. Thank you for traveling all this way to visit us and spend some time on 5 Minutes in Church History.

Ken Mbugua (KM): Thank you for having me.

SN: Last week you told us a great story about your mother’s uncle, who was one of the first converts of African Inland Mission. Now you’re continuing that tradition of being a pastor. You’re also the managing director of Ekklesia Africa, which promotes biblical resources to build healthy churches. Tell us a little bit more about what you’re doing with Ekklesia Africa.

KM: Across the continent many awesome efforts are going on. People who have confidence in the Scriptures want to equip other pastors to be able to shepherd their flocks well. But most of them struggle to get access to theological resources that would help with the work of establishing churches and equipping them.

SN: I’ve been told that a study Bible costs about a month’s wages. Is the problem a scarceness of resources?

KM: Yes, either the resources are simply not available, or they’re too expensive.

SN: And just out of reach.

KM: They’re just out of reach.

SN: So you’re trying to put these resources in people’s hands?

KM: We make them available and affordable and accessible. We also try to remove Americanisms, as we call them, from the books, like baseball analogies. We have other things like that.

SN: You can put in football analogies.

KM: There you go.

KM: That’s why we exist, to make those resources accessible to the church.

SN: One thing I’ve learned from studying church history is once you put the right resources in people’s hands, you see things begin to happen. So we applaud your efforts and pray for your work there.

As you survey the current landscape of Christianity in Africa, are you hopeful not only for the present but also for what the future of Christianity in Africa might be?

KM: As you say, a study of church history is very encouraging because you can see that God is not a respecter of persons, and in times past he has taken pleasure in allowing the winds of grace to blow in certain areas. Truth seemed to have been lost, and the situation was sometimes so bleak that it seemed as though the church would never come back again. There is a lot of darkness in Africa. I could share many stories that would show you that the church is not in a very healthy state. But we’ve been hearing of college students, for example, who have this appetite for truth that simply wasn’t there fifteen years ago. We receive phone calls from universities and the Christians there who have organized themselves in what they call Christian unions, saying, “Come speak to us about where the prosperity gospel is not right,” or, “Come speak to us about the authority and sufficiency of Scripture.” And oftentimes we say, “Who told you about this?”

Because we’ve been saying this for a long, long time, but it doesn’t seem like anybody’s been listening. Now it seems common for us to see that appetite and that hunger across universities. It’s spreading across the land, and we’re quite encouraged by that.

SN: That is very encouraging. We need to realize church history is being made. There are history makers right now in Africa who, if God should tarry over the next centuries, will have their stories to tell.

Thank you for reminding us that we are part of a global church. That gives us great cause to pray for the winds of grace to blow across Africa.