While some would like to insist that the Christian faith is no longer relevant in the twenty-first century, there is an abundance of evidence that an ongoing global spiritual awakening is taking place! Having looked at Asia, this time we consider the continent of Africa. Are you ready for some good news?
Kingdom Expansion in Africa
In 1900 there were 8.7 million Christians in Africa. Today, it is reported there are 631 million¹ which equates to a more than 7,000% increase over the past century or so! From a mere 5% of the population, we now see nearly 50% of Africa professing faith in Jesus Christ!
Recent data reveals that for the first time, Africa is now home to the most number of Christians in the world (surpassing Latin America).
At the turn of the 20th century, Christianity was virtually nonexistent in many parts of Africa but is now the faith of the majority, as the following figures demonstrate:²
% Christians in 1900
% Christians in 2000
Other African countries with a significant Christian population are:
Saint Helena 96.2%
Sao Tomé & Principe 95.8%
Cape Verde Islands 95.1%
South Africa 83.1%
Spanish North Africa 80.3%
Equatorial Guinea 76.6%
Central African Republic 67.8%
During the first three centuries after Christ, Africa was a major centre of Christian thought and activity. However, with the advance of Islam, Christianity in much of North Africa (with the exception of Egypt and Ethiopia) virtually disappeared. It was not until the end of the eighteenth century when the Evangelical Revival brought an influx of missionaries which led to the first fruits of an enduring Christian presence in Sub-Sahara Africa. Subsequent growth is mainly attributed to African evangelism with the birth of thousands of “African Initiated Churches” (AICs).
What is also amazing is that Muslims across the hostile region of Northern Africa are converting to faith in Jesus Christ in record numbers. Experts report that what God is doing in the predominantly Muslim nations of Mauritania, Western Sahara, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, and Tunisia, is a profound move of God and unprecedented in the history of missions.
In Algeria, thousands of former Muslims are coming to faith. In one church of 1,200 believers, every new Christian is from a Muslim background and on average, 150-160 believers are baptised every year.
Along with the rapid growth has also come intense persecution. However, this has often served as a catalyst for further growth and expansion. For example, in the warn-torn nation of Sudan, one million Sudanese have turned to Christ since the year 2000. In Mozambique, one of the poorest countries in the world, God has used Rolland and Heidi Baker to heal and bring thousands to Jesus.
As with Asia, there is an ongoing need for a gospel of the Kingdom to go deep enough to change traditional worldviews and truly bring transformation to African society.
But, the over-arching good news is that the gospel of Jesus Christ and His kingdom is on the increase throughout the continent of Africa!
¹ Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
² Statistical information provided by the late Dr David Barrett.