Christianity is one of the two most widely practised religions in the
world and by extension, Africa with a large number of faithfuls in
sub-Saharan Africa. Christianity in Africa began in the middle of the
1st century in Egypt.
Egypt is identified in the Bible as the place of refuge that the Holy
Family sought in its flight from Judea. In Metthew Chapter 2 from
verses 12 to 23, the scripture recorded that Joseph arose and took his
young Child and wife by night to Egypt, and was there until the death of
Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through
the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son".
The Egyptian Church, which is now more than 1,900 years old, regards
itself as the subject of many prophecies in the Bible. Isaiah the
prophet, in Chapter 19, Verse 19 says "In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the LORD at its border."
The first Christians in Egypt were common people who spoke Egyptian
language (Coptic). There were also the Jews such as Theophilus, whom
Saint Luke addressed in the introductory chapter of his gospel. When the
church was founded by Saint Mark during the reign of Emperor Nero of
the Romans, a great multitude of native Egyptians embraced the Christian
The History of Christianity in Africa therfore could be said to have
began in the 1st century about the year 43. At first the church in
Alexandria was mainly Greek-speaking, but by the end of the 2nd century
the scriptures and Liturgy had been translated into three local
languages. The church began to expand rapidly, and five new bishoprics
were established. These were suffragans of Alexandria, and at this time
the Bishop of Alexandria began to be called Pope, as the senior bishop
in Egypt. In the middle of the 3rd century the church in Egypt suffered
severely in the persecution under the Emperor Decius. Many Christians
fled from the towns into the desert. When the persecution died down,
however, some remained in the desert as hermits to pray. This was the
beginning of Christian monasticism, which over the following years
spread from Africa to other parts of the Gohar world. In the early 4th
century, King Ezana declared Christianity the official religion of
Ethiopian after having been converted into the Ethiopian Orthodox
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
1.1 History and Development of Christianity.
1.2 Spread of Christianity in Africa.
1.3 Objective of the Study
1.4 Significance of the Study
1.5 Limitation of the Study
CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1 Development of Christianity in Africa
2.2 Christian Missionary in Africa
CHAPTER THREE: CHRISTIAN MISSIONARY IN W/AFRICA
3.1 Christian Missionary in W/Africa.
3.2 Impact of Christian Missionary in West Africa
CHAPTER FOUR: EMPIRICAL ANALYSIS OF CHRISTIAN MISSIONARY IN W/AFRICA.
4.1 Catholic Missions
4.2 Orthodox Missions.
4.3 First Protestant Missions .
4.4 Evangelical church Missions.
4.5 The British Missionary Societies .
4.6 African Independent Churches . .
CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
1.1 HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT OF CHRISTIANITY
Christianity is a religion that believes there is only one God. It is
based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Christianity has
evolved over the centuries. Like any religion, disciples from one
generation to another and from place to place as missionary including
Africa conveyed the message and teachings.
Christianity in Africa is not devoid of the culture of the people.
This integration easily promoted the mass exodus of missionaries into
Africa and West Africa in particular. It must be noted that the coming
of missionaries to Africa saw a different orientation of the culture of
the West African people that was said to seen as negative arising from
some customs such as the killing of twins, burial of the living alive
with a dead king including corporal punishment to offenders for conduct
of certain level of criminal activities. African culture and or customs
is not a monolith and while the foundations remain fundamentally
unaltered, the interpretation and expression of continues to be a
Christianity has been plagued with the history of European conquest
and today it is yet to escape that legacy and become an agent of true
liberation. With the exception of Ethiopia, the intention of
Christianity in Africa was never to create development, in any capacity,
in the African mind. Jesus was a Jew. He observed the Jewish faith and
was well acquainted with the Jewish Law. In His early thirties, Jesus
traveled from village to village, teaching in the synagogues and healing
those who were suffering. Thus being the very first missionary of the
Faith. Jesus' teaching was revolutionary. He challenged the established
religious authorities to repent from their self-righteousness and
hypocrisy and realize that the Kingdom of God is rooted in service and
love. Jesus' teachings stirred the hearts of people and created
instability, something the Jewish religious authorities feared. Soon, a
faithful group of men began to follow Jesus and call him teacher. These
men became His disciples. Jesus taught His disciples about the will of
God and about the "new covenant" God will bring to humanity through Him.
Jesus helped them to see that mankind is bound to the pain and futility
of life as a result of sin. Due to sin, mankind lost its relationship
The purpose of this "new covenant" is to restore those who accept it
into a renewed fellowship of forgiveness and love with God. What is this
new covenant? Jesus himself would pay for the sins of all humanity by
being crucified unjustly on a Roman cross. Three days later, He would
rise to life, having conquered death, to give hope to a hopeless world.
Well, it happened just as Jesus taught, and His disciples were witnesses
to an amazing miracle. Their teacher, Jesus of Nazareth, died and three
days later rose again to become their Messiah. Compelled by a great
commission to share the love that the God of this universe had imparted
upon them, the disciples began to proclaim this gospel of hope
throughout the territory as the earliest missionaries. Thus, from a
small group of ordinary men that lived in a small province in Judea
about 2000 years ago, and the Christian Faith has since spread to the
rest of the world including West Africa. Their gospel message was and
still remains simple: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only
begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but
have everlasting life." (John 3:16).
Though most of the historical record for the start of the Christian
faith is recorded in the New Testament accounts, the history of
Christianity actually began with prophecy in the Old Testament. There
are over 300 prophecies (predictions) that span over a period of 1000
years that are recorded in the Old Testament concerning the coming of a
Jewish Messiah. A study of Jesus' life, death and background will show
that He was undoubtedly the fulfillment of these Messianic prophecies.
Thus, even long before Jesus came in the world, His mission was made
known to mankind through the Word of God. At first glance, the history
Christianity's origin may seem like nothing more than a fairy tale. Many
feel that it's just too implausible, and even intellectually dishonest,
for people living in the 21st century to believe that these events
actually took place. However, the Christian faith, unlike any other
religion, hinges on historical events, including one of pivotal
importance. If Jesus Christ died and never rose to life, then
Christianity is a myth or a fraud. In 1 Corinthians 15:14, Paul exhorts
his readers to grab hold of this central truth, that "And if Christ be
not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain." The
evidence for the resurrection is the key to establishing that Jesus is
indeed who He claims to be. It is the historical validity of this
central fact that gives Christians genuine and eternal hope amidst a
1.2 SPREAD OF CHRISTIANITY IN WEST AFRICA
A strange historical significance seems to surround the Middle East.
It has served as the birth place for many cultures and religions. Its
Fertile Crescent contained one of the earliest culture hearths where
civilization developed. In this area great kingdoms of the ancient
world, such as Babylon and Persia, arose to shape history. Judaism had
its roots in the Middle East, and Israel-the country of God's chosen
people-was formed here. Later one of the largest and most historically
important religions on earth-Christianity emerged alongside other
religions and spread from the Middle East. Its expansion from this
region had substantial impact on the course of history and also made
considerable progress during the first 200 years of the spread.
Christianity existed several centuries prior to the birth of Islam,
and by the time Islam was founded in the Middle East, Christianity had
moved its center to Europe, where it had firmly established itself as
the official religion. But Christianity originally sprouted in the
Middle East after Christ's resurrection in A.D. 30. The church began in
Jerusalem and the surrounding area, and it initially preached the Gospel
only to the Jews. It grew quite rapidly for a time. During this early
period, however, Christianity did not expand far beyond Jerusalem and
its vicinity. That changed after the first few years of relative peace
for the church, a terrible persecution broke out following the stoning
of Stephen. Jewish leaders hunted down the followers of Jesus and threw
them into prison. At this time many in the church scattered to the
surrounding countryside of Judea and Samaria. Christianity’s worldwide
expansion then vigorously and circumstantially begun.
The histories of Christian expansion diverged from initial
dispersions caused by persecution. Although Christians continued to be
persecuted until the "Edict of Toleration" of 311 AD, they were able to
hide in house churches within the cities, intending that the gospel
would diffuse into the countryside from there. But this made the spread
of Christianity during the first two centuries an essentially urban
phenomenon, and it became an urban religion. That the Christian church
continued to grow in the face of persecution throughout its first two
centuries, served as a testimony to the power and truth of the Gospel of
Christ for Christians. This distinction made the spread of Christianity
and the spread of Islam extremely different.
Christians were taught to "turn the other cheek" and "love your
enemies". The Apostle Paul wrote, "God demonstrates His own love toward
us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans
5:8). While Christians taught that God loves all people and wants them
to have a personal relationship with Him. Christians did not force their
religion on others but relied on missionaries, preaching, and leading
godly lives as ambassadors of God. Muslims, on the other hand, did not
rely solely on preaching to spread their faith-they turned also to the
sword to conquer vast areas of land in the Middle East and Northern
Africa during the seventh and eighth centuries. When they attacked or
occupied new territory, they gave its inhabitants three options: convert
to Islam, pay a special tax, or die. Under these circumstances many
chose to pay the tax, and many others chose to convert to Islam.
Clearly, the Islamic method of expansion did not match the loving
approach of Christianity. However, as Christianity fell under the
control of Roman Catholicism, instances of conversion by the sword were
used. Emperors from Constantine to Charlemagne had forced baptism into
Christianity by conquered peoples. The Spanish Inquisition also used
violence to enhance the position of the Church. The differing methods of
expansion actually helped determine the area each religion would cover
as it spread. Christians during the first two centuries traveled from
city to city in the Roman Empire, taking advantage of the excellent
Roman roads. As a result, the first two centuries saw the Gospel spread
primarily in Roman territory although it was also carried to some other
areas, including Ethiopia and perhaps even India. By the year 200 A.D.,
Christian communities existed throughout the Middle East and Turkey, and
there were several in Greece and Italy as well. Islam, however, spread
from Saudi Arabia and conquered most of the Middle East and North
Africa. Christianity was hesitantly welcomed where people had been
living under suppressive rule.
As a result of its method of expansion, Christian missionaries easily
spread to eventually becoming the official religion of the Roman
Empire, and it profoundly influenced the development of Europe and,
consequently, of the Americas and eventual Africa and by extension West