There is often this belief or assumption that we as Western missionaries are going to Africa to do ministry for or to the people there. But this is a false belief that should be addressed head on. We are headed to Africa to do ministry with our African brothers and sisters, who have at least as much to teach me about following Christ as I could ever hope to teach them. That’s why we partner with existing Bible translation organizations on the ground that are simply asking for more support and resources and training.
We came across this article that introduces some influential African theologians. And they are not the first! Many early church fathers were from Africa, including Augustine, Tertullian, and Cyprian. These are people that still influence our theology today.
This quote about Lamin Sanneh’s Translating the Message struck us as we think of our impact as we go to Africa.
“One striking insight, for example, is the profoundly beneficial cultural legacy of missionaries committed to bible translation. Countless languages would have been crushed by the onslaught of colonial powers; it was the efforts to alphabetise these oral tongues and then establish grammatical structures that gave them a future, which in turn, ironically, fed both the sense of worth of those cultures and provided the very tools with which to overthrow colonialism itself.”
And so we go, not to bring Christianity or to “fix” anything about them. We go to strengthen their voice and to show them that God speaks their language.
”Christianity helped Africans become renewed Africans, not remade Europeans” (Lamin Sanneh)
Here’s the full article here that introduces 5 African theologians that we should listen to: