Saturday, April 11, 2009

Out of Africa

The latest New York Times Magazine has a lengthy piece by Andrew Rice (8300 words) that is well-reported, well-written, fascinating, and disconcerting, all at the same time. He profiles the Redeemed Christian Church of God, a massive Nigerian Pentecostal movement seeking to take root in the United States.
Africa is the world’s fastest-growing continent, and Ajayi-Adeniran belongs to one of its most vigorously expansionary religious movements, a homegrown Pentecostal denomination that is crusading to become a global faith. In the course of just a few decades, the Redeemed Christian Church of God, founded in a Lagos shantytown, has won millions of adherents in Nigeria while building a vast missionary network that stretches into more than 100 nations.
The next phase is planting churches in America:
The church is still in its infancy here, with only around 15,000 active members, most of them Nigerians, but its goal is to make gradual inroads into the wider culture, at first aiming at members of immigrant groups — other Africans, Caribbeans, Latin Americans, Asians — and then moving on to African-Americans and whites.
And here's a taste of their theological vision and mission:
The Redeemed Church offers a case study of the crosscurrents that are drawing Christianity southward. Its leader and guiding force, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, sums up the church’s history this way: “Made in heaven, assembled in Nigeria, exported to the world.” He preaches that his followers — known as the Redeemed — are a chosen people and have a special covenant with God, one that promises that the church will one day claim an adherent in every family on earth.
I confess I'd never heard of this group before this article. The growth of Christianity in the global South is surely encouraging, but let us pray for it to be deeply rooted in biblical ethics and theology.