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Solidly Passionate

The African Alliance is rooted deeply in God’s Word

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During last year’s regional Alliance World Fellowship (AWF) conference, crowds of Gabonese Christians joined the representatives of Alliance churches from seven African countries every evening. They prayed, worshiped, and absorbed the teaching from the Word of God. International leaders mingled with the local believers who sought prayer, healing, and spiritual renewal.

At daytime sessions, the delegates worked hard on issues like divine healing, missions, and education. Pastors with only basic Bible training worked side by side with professors in theology in a Spirit-driven—not title-driven—desire to discern God’s plan for the Alliance churches on the continent. Reports revealed that most national churches already reach out across cultural and language borders. One of the general conclusions was: “Sharing Christ with the nations is our raison d’être.”

For too long we have heard so-called “Africa specialists” repeat the anachronistic mantra on African Christianity: “It’s a mile wide but only an inch deep.” After living on the continent for 10 years and visiting it for more than 20 years since, I sometimes wonder from which planet these observers come! It is true that there is a lot of religious wildfire in Africa, but the “mile-wide/inch-deep” label fits the situation in Europe and North America so much better; applying this kind of judgment to Africa only discloses the shallowness of the observer’s “expertise.”

It certainly was not our experience during the AWF get-together of African Alliance leaders, who represent millions of Christ followers. Almost all of them know, personally, what poverty is; most have lived through wars, and all have been confronted with heartbreaking tragedies within their extended families. Many minister without a library or an Internet connection. They are “men of one Book,” relying on their trust in God and His guidance through the Holy Spirit. The average African pastor may be uninformed about the latest theological trend or missiological hype. But these men study the Bible, and they know how to pray and how to minister to the afflicted. Their sermons resemble Jesus’ teaching style more than the slick, polished, ego-hugging technique of so many performers who preach in Western churches. Before judging, the observer needs to reflect on what the criteria should be when measuring spiritual ministry.

At one evening service during the AWF regional program, the crowd enthusiastically responded to a message on Christ our Healer. There was loud shouting and cheering. But then, before going into ministry time, the Gabonese Alliance Church president, Pastor Victor Ndoukou Moukoko, calmly and clearly explained that it is all about Christ. His sovereign will and power have nothing to do with theater. Only those who were really sick were asked to stand up for prayer and anointing. While this happened, all others joined in prayer. The African church is not perfect; it can grow in many ways. But so should Christians everywhere.

High-ranking officials, including Gabon’s prime minister, Dr. Ona Ondo, attended the opening ceremony of the regional conference. A few days later I was invited to meet him in his office. What an encouragement to hear this government leader express his appreciation for Alliance churches, noting their social ministry, education, and medical care. Then he lauded the depth of the sermon at the ceremony, delivered by Dr. Noël N’Guessan from Côte d’Ivoire. “Please continue to share your message of peace,” was the prime minister’s call. 

Long ago, Western Christians came to Africa to sow the seed of the gospel. Today, a mature movement of Christ followers can inspire the West and the rest of the world with their passionate worship and solid commitment to the Word of God. May the Alliance World Fellowship march to the drumbeat of these African churches.

2 responses to Solidly Passionate

  1. Thank you, Arie, for this excellent and encouraging report of the AWF Africa Regional Conference. We praise the Lord with you for the incredible growth and depth of the Church in Africa!

  2. after 43 years of ministry in Africa I know the reality and the truth of this article. The western church can learn some things from the African church.

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