That Christianity has shifted from the North to the Global South is a reality that we are living through.
Christianity is growing every day in Africa, Asia and Latin America while it appears to be declining in the Western world. Christians from the Global South have taken the mandate to spread the Gospel so that there is now reverse mission from the former mission field to Europe and North America.
In the British context, Caribbean and African Christians have taken the lead in establishing churches since 1906. These churches are commonly known as Black Majority Churches (BMCs). The majority of these churches, particularly the African churches are church plants from their headquarters back in Africa. Examples of these are The Church of the Lord Aladura
, The Redeemed Christian Church of God
, Church of Pentecost
, Victory Bible International Church
and many others.
All the above churches started in West Africa and have sent missionaries and pastors to the UK to do missions. This type of African churches constitutes the first set of African churches in Britain and other parts of Europe.
The second type of African churches are those founded here in Britain and which are now sending missionaries and pastors to different parts of Europe and the world. It is to this second group that I want to draw attention.
An example of an African Church that started in Britain and is sending missionaries to other parts of the world is Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC)
founded by Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo in 1992. KICC is one of the largest churches in Britain, with a congregation of around 12,000. it has church plants in major cities in the UK such as Birmingham, Luton, Milton Keynes, Bristol, Bedford and Oxford.
KICC is also involved in global missions through their television station KICC TV
which is viewed in Africa, Europe, North America, Asia and the Caribbean. Other avenues that KICC usse in spreading the Gospel to other parts of the world is through conferences (Winning Ways Africa), Gospel campaign meetings and relief work. In addition, KICC also has church plants in the Republic of Ireland, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Namibia and Malawi.
A second example of an African church that started in Britain and is involved in global missions is Trinity Baptist Church
founded by the Revd Kingsley Appiagyei (pictured) in 1989.
Trinity Baptist Church is also considered one of the largest Black Majority Churches in Britain, with a congregation of around 3,000 people. Since its inception Trinity Baptist Church has been involved in many church plants within the UK and other parts of Europe. It has churches in Italy, Denmark, Netherlands and Ghana, as well as an orphanage in Ghana. In 2009-10 Kingsley was the President of the Baptist Union of Great Britain.
A third example is Jubilee International Church
founded by Dr Femi Olowo in April 1992 in South London. Jubilee International Church has planted churches within Britain and other parts of the world, such as Africa (Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, the Congo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone and the Gambia) and Asian (Pakistan, India and the Philippines). In addition, the church conducts mission trips to Europe, Africa and Asia.
Lastly, The Embassy of God Church
founded by Pastor Sunday Adelaja in 1994 in Kiev, Ukraine, is yet another church founded by an African in Europe and is involved in global missions. It is is one of the largest churches in Europe with about 20,000 members. This church cannot actually be labelled an African church because 99 per cent of its membership is white European.
The church has a leadership training programme, International Training School for Leaders which trains and equips church leaders, missionaries and church planters in global missions. This school has sent missionaries to different parts of the world so that today the church can boast of having more than 200 church plants in the former countries of the Soviet Union, The United Arab Emirates, Israel, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Greece, Georgia, India, Canada, United States of America, Finland, Czech Republic, Sweden, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Japan, Moldova, Estonia and Finland. The Embassy of God Church is also involved in relief work in some of these countries.
Having given a few examples of African churches’ involvement in global missions, it is important that European mission agencies and organisations recognise and possibly partner with these African churches in working together for God’s kingdom on earth. Gone are those days when Europe and North American mission organisations could claim the monopoly of world missions. This shift in global mission must be recognised and co-operation is needed on both sides to work together.
Let us drop our agenda of doing it alone and work as partners in reaching the unreached!
The Revd Israel Olofinjana is the minister of Woolwich Central Baptist Church and Director of the Centre For Missionaries from the Majority World (CMMW). On September 6 CMMW hosts a conference exploring how missionaries and pastors from the majority world can work in partnership with indigenous British Christians.
He is Nigerian with a Pentecostal background. He blogs and is the author of Turning the Tables on Mission