John Muriango
Friday, May 24, 2019

Challenges Facing The Church in Africa

One of the ways the truth of Christianity is being attested is the veracity of the word as contained in the Bible. Even before Christianity began, our Lord and Savior told us in advance that his visible community on Earth won’t face a trouble-free life, and this He began telling us so from perhaps is very first lengthy sermon which was on the mount (Matthew 5 – 7) of which we can see the church has faced historically from the first century AD on the days the 12 apostles (the original 12 minus Judas, then add Paul) walked on Earth as testified both in the Acts and the epistles till today. Some of these have been external, and unfortunately the worst challenges Christ’s church has gone through are from within –internal.  Below, we are going to see a few of the trials we can see currently being faced by the church in the context of Africa.


  1. Persecution: In Matthew 5:10, the Lord warned us in advance that His people will be persecuted for simply being His followers, beginning from the family level, Matthew 10:21, all the way to national and international level, Matthew 24:9-10. This has been true historically in Africa during the age of the Roman Empire, the Islamic conquest, all the way till today. In the Sahel region countries such as Mali & Burkina Faso, attacks against Christians has increased tenfold. The same is true in Nigeria, Chad, Central Africa Republic, Sudan, Egypt, & Libya where it is mostly by Islamist extremist groups such as ISIS, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram and Al Shabab. At the same time, some governments such as the oppressive one in Eritrea is actively persecuting some Christian groups. Also, in some places throughout the continent of perpetual sun, professed believers face subtle forms of persecution like being called names simply because they’ve got differing views from the world. Unfortunately, some forms of persecution we’ve brought it upon ourselves simply because we aren’t living as per the claims of the biblical standard, but in hypocrisy.
  2. Biblical illiteracy: In Deuteronomy 30:14, which Paul re-quotes back in Romans 10:14, God told His people that his word is very close to them, but however, looking around, we’re in a period of spiritual Sahara desert as the prophet of old says in Amos 8:11-13. Probably, in a typical Christian home in Africa, we’ve all got an average of 2 bibles, but however, it looks as if most of us professed ‘census Christians’ actually don’t read it and thus we don’t know what the message it has for us, and when we read, we simply do some Russian roulette type of interpretation as we don’t handle it accurately, 2 Timothy 2:14-16. If you visit any majority of the churches in Africa, there’s hardly any truthful exegesis taking place, instead there’s the wildest form of eisegesis being espoused and this in the end of the day leads to heresy after heresy being believed and hold up to, and thus a lack of growth in maturity, 2 Peter 3:18, amongst most believers here in Africa. To make matters worse, there’s a deep hatred of Good Theology amongst believers, little do they know that at the same time they’re holding to a form of theology since as R. C. Sproul says, everyone is a theologian.
  3. Sin: Ever since the fall of our first parents and federal heads Adam & Eve, Genesis 3, we’ve been in bondage to sin, John 8:34, and thus that is why we naturally engage in every form of wickedness, Matthew 15:19, there’s no need of mentioning any. However, as Paul tells us in Romans 6:1-23, this slavery is being removed by Christ, since If the Son sets you free you are free indeed, John 8:36. It’s true, sanctification doesn’t once and for all as all of us believers will perpetually struggle with dhambi all of our earthly days till we reach safely home in Heaven 1 John 1:7-10, 1 John 2:1-6, Romans 7:15-20, nonetheless, our lives should be marked by growth in holiness and righteousness. Unfortunately, this isn’t so for the church in Africa as we’re noted to be gross sinners even by worldly standards. Just take a look in any media and day after day you won’t miss any negative report about the church, more so the church leaders.
  4. Illegal authority: We’ve got an aversion of authority in all levels of our lives; at family level, school, workplace, and also at the state level. We all love being free, but however, this will never happen since there will always be someone unto whom we’re answerable to. Because of the problems that the church face, believers tend to despise the authority (biblical) of its leaders. In some churches, some leaders wield unbiblical forms of authority upon their adherents, and make them to do whatever they want them to do even though some matters are openly heretical, like eating grass, giving them a certain percentage of their wages, demanding extreme loyalty to them and their ‘churches’, etc. Egalitarianism is also an illegal form of authority that is very common in African churches, to the point that if you show people the biblical complementarian view, people will think you are mad! Because of all these and other forms of illegal authority, I’m fearful that our leaders won’t be joyous, but grieving when they finally give our accounts to God, much to our own ruin, Hebrews 13:17.
  5. Political/State capture: This is an extension of point 4 above. The church and the state are different entities, but unfortunately for the church in Africa, they’ve being joined at the hip, and our political leaders have used them in a negative way. Week after week, our pulpits are blasphemed by both the political and church leaders as they use the church to spew out their agenda. The political leaders use the church to cleanse their corrupt loot through offerings, yet in 3 John 7, we can see that the early church wasn’t accepting anything from pagans, but in our day and age, this is common place, to the point of the political leaders praises being sang by the congregants, and not God who is being glorified, and thus idolatry.
  6. Greed/Materialism: Biblical illiteracy has led to the growth of the vile and perverse prosperity gospel. The church in Africa has legitimised greed, and seriously, it looks as if our inheritance is no longer in Heaven, Colossians 3:24, 1 Peter 1:4, but our focus is to take as much from this passing world has to offer.

P.S. Over the next few months or so, we’re going to tackle over this question of prosperity gospel showing why it is no good news at all.

  1. Secularism: Secularism is rising in Africa, just like in other parts of the world, whilst the influence of Christianity is waning, and as a consequence, there is a gradual overthrow of the biblical ethical values, and a growth of unbiblical ones which is influencing our people in Africa. Yes, the gates of hell won’t prevail against the church, Matthew 16:18, but this challenge has to be faced in a proper manner if we want to see the salvation of our people.
  2. Apathy towards evangelism & missions: The last command that Christ gave was that we should be constantly evangelizing to the lost, Matthew 28:18-20, since the Gospel message is the only means of bringing salvation to the people, Romans 10:8-17. Unfortunately, in Africa, we’ve tended to leave this as a task to be fulfilled by the church leaders, yet it is something that everyone in church should be involved in, Ephesians 4:11-16. As for missions, we’ve left it to foreigners from the West (US especially), and South Korea, and thus we aren’t involved in missions as espoused in the Bible.
  3. Commitment-phobia: Making a commitment is not an easy task. It demands a lot! The same is true with our Christian lives, and if we’ve not put total commitment to Christ, we really have to doubt as per the truthfulness of our salvation, Luke 9:23. Looking into most of our lives, we’re like the proverbial hyena which took both two different roads when it came at a junction. There’s apathy everywhere in our African churches amongst our congregants as we are not committed to it.

These are just some of the problems we’ll face as a church in Africa, and definitely there are tens of others. Maybe after you read this article you thought in your mind, is there hope for the church in Africa? For now, I can tell you definitely yes, and that the church in Africa has got tremendous reasons to celebrate, and this I’ll say in the next few days.