Missionaries in Black Churches
Description of the Problem
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This paper discusses about black missionaries in churches, various reasons for being unparticipating in the missionary activities, what are the problems involved and how to overcome these problems in order to encourage black missionaries in churches of all denominations.
Statement of purpose
The purpose of this research paper is to identify the lacunae areas of missionary activities, and suggest remedial measures to improve missionary activities in black churches and suggest ways and means of discipline. The primary purpose is to encourage young and energetic youth to take-up missionary activities in black churches and work for the better of society and community apart from being a servant of God.
Setting the problem
Africa is the poorest continent in the present world which consists of various denominations of different religions. Africa has South African Christians in Cape Town, and Muslims in Cairo. Africa is the only continent where amidst of several denominations of Muslim and Christian communities, respect to religion continues to persist in spite of diverse and ethnic differences. Over 2 billion population there are ¼ million denominations in Africa.
Presently, Africa is gaining recognition for Christian evangelism and has been growing popular in America and Europe. For growing number of reasons indicating that western part of the world has a weakening Christian community, whereas Africa in twenty-first century is gaining popularity as a Christian continent. There is a shift of thought of Christianity from western world to the third world in growing leadership of Christianity. East African countries of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ruanda and Burundi are being toured by western missionaries as the denominations of these countries churches are growing rapidly. Church tourists offer funds for building schools, health centers, rehabilitation centers for HIV/Aids, orphan homes for children and for providing food and shelter to widows, men and women. Kenya holds freedom of worship which has enabled church conventions and it has even hosted legendary American Black Bishop T.D Jakes. Tours and safaris of western world have been taking place in Kenya providing growth Christian evangelism.
Some of the other facts to take note importantly, there are only 350-400 African-American cross-cultural missionaries are available for a population of 37 million African-Americans. Reconciliation Ministries Network Inc. – Church Global Mission Resources have been involved in missionary and church activities in conducting training programs, seminars by the principles of advocating word of God.
The causes for this religious depression in African community could be for several economic, political and religious biased reasons which require constant persuasion of social-cultural, religious and missionary motivation for developing missionaries in black churches which can be achieved in a long term process of working.
History and background of the problem
African church consists of seven major denominations viz., The African Methodist Episcopal Church (A.M.E.); the African Methodist Episcopal Zion church (A.M.E.Z) ; the Christian Methodist Episcopal church (C.M.E) ; the National Baptist Convention America (N.B.C); the National Baptist Convention of America (NBCA); the progressive National Baptist Convention (PNBC) ; the church of God in Christ (COGIC) . In the late 1960s “the black church” has gained reference for black Christians. In 1787 “Free African Society” was formed for black Christians.
Only in 19th century, single women black missionaries like Nancy Jones, Maria Fearing and Sarah Gorham were involved in full time missionary work. Reputed educationist Fanny Jackson Coppin accompanied husband in missionary work, who later became first bishop of South Africa in 1990. Coppin stated “Our religious training is, in a sense, but an explanation of [Africans] own religious impulses”. Coppin further stated that the task of missionaries is to structure religious training around the patterns which already existed in Christianity. Black church women as missionaries contributed participation in religious, charitable and educational activities to help poor black communities.
There are also racial differences in church denominations for ordaining bishops such as white Pentecostal churches did not have bishops while black churches had bishops. Also white Pentecostals ordained women while black churches did not ordain women. Further it is also observed that black churches considered more responsibility towards education and social concerns and less attentive in doctrinal requirements.
It is important here to discuss where the problem exists? Firstly the split of denominations which to a large extent have created a political atmosphere among black Christians, lack of proper training and attendance in churches, lack of social status due to poor financial and education background, in spite of the fact that the efforts of William Carey in 18th century have contributed to a great extent to the modern missionary movement.
Several missionary organizations must come forward and make effort to conduct seminars, training programs and provide theological education to carry on missionary work in black churches. The controversies about black churches and missionaries are such that the under development of black churches remains to be a persistent problem and growing weaknesses among black communities are reflecting the growth of black churches. Baptists being the largest denomination in black churches, 8 million black Baptists are in excess with the National Baptist Convention Inc., having approximately 6.3 million members. The progressive National Baptist Convention has 750,000 and the National Baptist Convention Unincorporated has 1 million members. The total membership of black Methodist churches is around 2.8 million. The Pentecostal church estimates a total membership of 3 million. Another important fact is that approximately 61 per cent of blacks are members of Christian churches in both Catholic and Protestant communities.
Scope for applied Biblical research project
Resources for offering training to black missionaries for expansion of black churches, global applications, the mission of Christianity, a good theological knowledge of biblical, historical and a clear understanding of missionary principles, provide ability to communicate clearly apart from writing skills. There are already few successful black missionaries such as Creflo dollar ministries, Mathew Marshlowo and Bishop T.D.Jakes have attained recognition as international missionaries for Christian evangelical work.
Importance/Significance of Project
Black churches are facing lot of challenges in Christian churches. Young people have to come forward and take up theological training for betterment of missionary work and for the growth of society of black Christian church. Ministries are the works of prayer and chosen young men and women are privileged to impart Christian missionary work as in the past, several missionaries including David Livingstone, who laid a foundation for missionary work in Africa in accordance with the verse “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matt. 28:18-20).
The work of ministry must be carried on with faith works taking the guidance and experiences of missionaries in the past. Certainly it is a very hard job which requires excessive theological knowledge, prayerful spirit and a heart that is with compassion of God to carry on missionary activities. Obstacles, hardships, trials, temptations, and tribulations are bound to occur in the path of service to God, whereas His verse “Lo, I am with you” can be underlined while carrying missionary work and chosen servants of God will never be left alone even in a crisis situation. The power of prayer has established several successful churches around the world and is a great evidence for the success of Christian religion as it transforms souls and spirits into Christ-like attitude.
Author : Henry H.Mitchell
Title of the book : Black church beginnings: The long-hidden realities of the
Publication : Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Date of publication : October 15, 2004
(2) Author : Charles Eric Lincoln, Lawrence H. Mamiya
Title of the book : The Black Church in the African-American Experience
Publication : Duke University Press
Date of publication : December 1990
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Eugene Myers Harrison, Giants of the Missionary Trail, DavidLivingstone, The Pathfinder of Africa.Accessed 15 May 2007 <http://www.wholesomewords.org/missions/giants/biolivingstone.html>