Editorial to Vol 4, Issue 1

Welcome to Volume 4 of Missio Africanus.

This issue follows a long hiatus that allowed us to do some reflection as the editorial board on what it is that we intend for this journal to accomplish. In addition to the generally accepted desire to create space for mission scholars and practitioners to engage one another on issues to do with mission in Africa and among African peoples in the diaspora, it has also become increasingly clear that the journal needs to champion a new type of missiology—a missiology that reflects the shifting heartlands of Christianity from the north-western quadrant of the globe to the rest of the world, the changing complexion of Christianity as a whole from white Europeans to darker-skinned Latin Americans, Africans, and Asians, from rich people in the West to poor peoples in rural Africa, and that these poor non-white peoples are also, by virtue of being Christians, called to serve with God in God’s mission in the world wherever God wants them to serve. My friends in Kenya imagined this missiology was one that is not afraid to talk about the Holy Spirit. They want it to be a missiology in which the Spirit is truly the chief agent of mission through whom God is reconciling the entire universe to Godself. Of course, this is reminiscent of John V. Taylor’s words in The Go Between God who said that “the Holy Spirit is the chief actor in mission … the director of the whole [missionary] enterprise.”[1] Such a missiology would naturally attempt to answer the questions that African Christians have about such things as spirits, spiritual warfare, and witchcraft. It would begin to explain the enthusiastic nature of African religions (Christianity included), the rising influence of the prophets on the African Christian landscape, and the hunger for miracles that leaves many African Christians vulnerable to exploitation.

Such a missiology, according to one Ghanaian theologian, will not be ambivalent about the relationship between colonialism, racism and mission. It must be clear that the mission of God does not need imperial support to extend God’s kingdom in the world. Often, the mission of God seeks to subvert empires and not to extend them. It wrestles to free those who are oppressed by unjust imperial systems of the world for whom the Son of God sets free is free indeed. It actively tries to imagine new ways of engaging in mission that are not rooted in colonialism and cultural (or religious) supremacy. While it seeks to convert people to the faith, it tries to do so without colonising them. They do not have to change their names or abandon their culture in order to belong to the kingdom. They have to be Christian in a manner that is relevant to their context. By focusing on God’s kingdom, it detribalises mission and humanises God’s people. For African Christians, it answers the question of whether one can be a Christian and an African at the same time with an emphatic yes, and then tries to discern what this would look like.

Such a missiology, my South African friends suggested, would be holistic in its understanding of God’s mission in the world. It wants to see the Spirit of God at work beyond the church, in all humanity including those of other faiths or denominations. It also anticipates to see God’s mission in creation care through which God provides for humanity. In essence, such a missiology seeks to save more than just the soul. It attempts to shine God’s light on the conditions in which people live. It wants to discern God’s presence and work in the Democratic Republic of Congo, for instance, where the peace of God is desperately needed. Or in Northern Nigeria where religious violence causes people to live in fear. What is God’s mission to the people of Mozambique who are at the time of this writing only beginning to recover from the destruction of Cyclone Idai? This missiology will speak to African Christians who want to make sense of their role in world Christianity. It seeks to discern how God is calling African Christians to participate in the mission of God.

It is this missiology that we commit to pursue. This issue begins to take us on that journey. You will find essays here that make bold but humble suggestions about the mission of God in post-Christian West (Kwiyani), in theological education (Kapolyo), in ubuntu and koinonia (Ireland) and in African churches in Liverpool and Minneapolis. I pray you will find these articles engaging.

Harvey Kwiyani

Missio Africanus, Liverpool, UK.

[1] Taylor, John Vernon. The Go-between God: The Holy Spirit and the Christian Mission. (London: SCM Press, 1972).

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