This article on The Gospel Coalition Africa website is intended as an apologetic tool for refuting a common objection that Christianity is a religion for white people. As a Christian yourself, you might wonder why that argument even needs to be made.
The author painfully describes how European colonialists used the Bible as propaganda to exploit Africans, and unfortunately Christians on the continent still carry the burden of that legacy. Just because we recognize colonial imperialism as different from the gospel message doesn’t mean that those most impacted by it do. Sharing the gospel therefore requires great care to distinguish the message of the Bible from historically abusive interpretations and to winsomely connect its power to the lived African experience.
As outsiders to that narrative, reading the four responses the author gives reminds us that if we’re tempted to believe Americans are taking the gospel to Africa, we aren’t. The Bible’s presence on the continent existed long before colonialism too. It fosters humility to acknowledge that even as we send missionaries today from the west, we received the gospel message from some of the very same places in which we minister.
- How does being reminded of Christianity’s legacy in Africa reframe the way you think about doing short-term trips there?
- Have you ever considered the baggage that might accompany the gospel message? Said another way– have you thought about how even when you say the “right” things, someone might not hear it rightly because they interpret your words differently than you mean them? Why is this particularly dangerous when we’re visiting a foreign country and what can we do to preserve the gospel message?