Presentation on theme: "MANI International Conference Abuja, Nigeria September 4 – 10, 2011"— Presentation transcript:
1 MANI International Conference Abuja, Nigeria September 4 – 10, 2011 AFRICA IN MISSIONS: AFRICA DOING MISSIONS IN DIASPORAPresented by: Dr. Emmanuel Owusu Bediako (Apostle) Senior Pastor, The Church of Pentecost, Canada(An African Church in Diaspora).MANI International Conference Abuja, Nigeria September 4 – 10, 2011
2 IntroductionThe world in the past few decades has witnessed an unparalleled intensification of transnational migration. It has been estimated that by the mid-1990s, more than 100 million people would have taken up residence in countries different from the land of their birth (The Economist 1997, 81; Wiener 1996, 128). The process of globalization has simultaneously created constraints as well as opportunities for the world at large. Africans, as a result, have responded in ways that have turned them into active participants in this phenomenon of transmigration.
3 Introduction (cont’d) Contrary to the popular secularization thesis which posits that religion will fade with the triumph of modern science and globalization (See Weber’s Religious Rejections of the World and their Directions, 1920 & 1946), the Africa Missions have capitalized on the same and have responded to the call of Missions and evangelization by establishing thriving African Churches in the Northern Hemisphere.
4 Historical Background of Africans in Diaspora The migration of Africans, mostly to countries in the Northern Hemisphere, began in the 1960s. The early immigrants were mostly students and seamen. Later, the influx steadily swelled in the eighties and nineties. The economic mismanagement by governments (especially military dictators), the structural location of the continent in the global capitalist systems, and neo-liberal policy prescriptions from the international financial institutions created extensive economic hardship for many African countries (see Smith 2003, Amin 2002; Cheru 2002).
5 Historical Background of Africans in Diaspora (cont’d) Moreover, the situation became fused with civil wars, political instability, ethnic conflicts, and political persecutions. These factors compelled many young African men to move North. They initially came as refugees and asylum seekers. After some years, their families joined them and new children were born.
6 Historical Background of Africans in Diaspora (cont’d) This has shifted their temporary situations into long-term migrants or settlers in the Northern societies. Some scholars in the North argue that these new settlers should not be branded as African Diaspora because of the marked difference between their voluntary exile and that of their counterparts who were forcibly uprooted from Africa and scattered around the globe through the traumatic experience of the transatlantic slave trade. Yet the new settlers see themselves as Africans in Diaspora.
7 Africans in Diaspora: Who are They? Briefly, the Africans in Diaspora are:New Settlers who voluntarily relocated from Africa to societies in the Northern Hemisphere and whose communities are overwhelmingly urban. The majority of them live in the big cities of Europe, Americas, Middle East, Asia and Australia.People who want to live close to each other.
8 Africans in Diaspora: Who are They? (cont’d) Mostly unemployed or under-employed. This situation is changing considerably because many of them are now pursuing professional studies, notably nursing, information technology (I.T.), and engineering.Over-represented in low-paying, manual, processing, and machinery occupations in the manufacturing industry.Africans in Diaspora: Who are They? (cont’d)
9 Africans in Diaspora: Who are They? (cont’d) Faced with racism and marked discrimination.Take delight in mobilizing themselves into ethnic associations to address their settlement and integration needs.Very religious.
10 Africans in Diaspora: Who are They? (cont’d) Historically, Christianity responds to ever changing circumstances by playing a significant role in the spiritual and socio-political endeavor of people who are seeking cultural and national identities. In view of that, the African Churches in Diaspora with ‘Missions and evangelization’ in mind have responded to the call of reaching to these new settlers and others with the gospel. This had and will forever change the religious landscapes of the Northern Hemisphere.
11 African Diaspora Churches (Africa Missions): Who are They? Most Africa immigrants left the shores of Africa religious. In that regard, God, their maker, was drawn into all aspects of their migration processes. God was drawn into the decision to migrate, through visa application, securing airfare or walking through the Sahara desert without much food or water, to the arrival, and eventual settlement process. These immigrants use religion to counteract social, financial and moral shocks in their international migration.African Diaspora Churches (Africa Missions): Who are They?
12 African Diaspora Churches (Africa Missions): Who are They? According to Joseph Mensah’s work (Doing Religion Overseas, September 2007), of about 12,000 Africans from Ghana who migrated into Toronto in the late eighties, 93% were Christians; only 2% were Muslims; and 5% declared no religious affiliation.African Diaspora Churches (Africa Missions): Who are They?
13 African Diaspora Churches (Africa Missions): Who are They? Gerrie tar Haar, a pioneer in the study of Christianity among Africans in Europe in his work, (Religious Communities in the Diaspora, 2001), noted that human migration is something of all times and ages and that ‘religion has always been a significant aspect of it’. The societies in the North will now have to accept the “staying power” (Fryer 1984) of these religious African immigrants since ‘return’ associated with the diaspora does not exist in their vocabulary.African Diaspora Churches (Africa Missions): Who are They?
14 African Diaspora Churches (Africa Missions): Who are They? Unlike the Jews in Diaspora who could not ‘sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land’, the Africa immigrants are singing the Lord’s songs in foreign lands by establishing vibrant churches in the North.African Diaspora Churches (Africa Missions): Who are They?
15 African Diaspora Churches (Africa Missions): Who are They? This paper, therefore, will endeavor to examine the characteristics of these African Diaspora Churches (Africa Missions) established and led by Africans and whose membership are mostly Africans or people of that descent. The paper will also try to expose the kinds of social services they provide; some challenges facing them; few suggestions to some of their problems; and the blessings they are offering to Christianity in general and the northern societies in particular.African Diaspora Churches (Africa Missions): Who are They?
16 African Diaspora Churches (Africa Missions): Who are They? The African Churches in Diaspora (Africa Mission) may be categorized as follows:African Initiated Churches (AIC or Spiritual churches),African Initiated Pentecostal Churches,African Initiated Charismatic Churches,African Initiated Baptist Churches (mainline),African Initiated Catholic Churches (mainline),African Initiated Methodist Churches (mainline),African Diaspora Churches (Africa Missions): Who are They?
17 African Diaspora Churches (Africa Missions): Who are They? African Initiated Presbyterian Churches (mainline),African Initiated Anglican Churches (mainline),African Initiated SDA Churches (mainline),African Initiated Assemblies of God Churches (mainline), etc.African Diaspora Churches (Africa Missions): Who are They?
18 African Diaspora Churches (Africa Missions): Who are They? Typical examples of such churches scattered in manycities in the Northern societies are: The Church ofPentecost Churches, The Assemblies of God Churches,Redeemed Christian Churches of God, KingswayInternational Christian Center (KICC), Christ EmbassyChurches, Blessed Embassy of the Kingdom of God,Deeper Life Churches, Apostolic Churches, ChristApostolic Churches, Baptist Churches, GhanaMethodist Churches, Ghana Presbyterian Churches,Nigeria Anglican Churches, Ghana SDA churches, etc.African Diaspora Churches (Africa Missions): Who are They?
19 African Diaspora Churches (Africa Missions): Who are They? Ironically, the above classifications spring forth somequestions - should there be a Nigeria Anglican Church inBritain? And should there be a Ghana SDA Church inWashington DC, where the SDA has its internationalheadquarters? These varieties of churches began asfellowship among the immigrants who felt unwelcomedin many mainstream Northern or “white” Churches onracial grounds.African Diaspora Churches (Africa Missions): Who are They?
20 African Diaspora Churches (Africa Missions): Who are They? Moreover, these African immigrants felt the spiritual and liturgical poverty of the worship life in these mainline churches in the North. They, as a result, sensed the call to establish varieties of Churches which expressed religion in ways that resonated with African and biblical pieties. Contrary to the claims of some scholars, therefore, these Churches sprang up not because the new settlers wanted to create religious spaces in their new environments, but it was because the missionaries’ churches continued to lose their spiritual fervor and sense of the supernatural.African Diaspora Churches (Africa Missions): Who are They?
21 African Diaspora Churches (Africa Missions): Who are They? It is no wonder that Methodism, Anglicanism, Roman Catholicism under the leadership of Africans in Diaspora have been geared towards new ecclesial identities, liturgical structures and styles of worship that differ markedly from those inherited from the missionary endeavors (Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu, African-led Christianity in Europe, 2008).African Diaspora Churches (Africa Missions): Who are They?
22 African Diaspora Churches: How to Identify Them? Some marked characteristics of the African DiasporaChurches are:They are self-supporting, self-evangelizing and self-governing. Only few of them have missionaries from Africa leading them but such missionaries are paid by the Diasporic churches.They hardly receive support from the governments and agencies of the societies in the North.Most of them have solid ecumenical ties with churches in Africa. The Churches in Africa are known as ‘mother churches’.African Diaspora Churches: How to Identify Them?
23 African Diaspora Churches: How to Identify Them? High visibility of women as devoted members.They are men dominated. Women are relegated to low and mid-level leadership positions. They mostly deal with traditional African women’s roles of children and youth ministries, singing / music ministry, cooking during conventions and conferences and cleaning. Even where women are at top leadership positions, they are regarded as co-Pastors with their husbands.African Diaspora Churches: How to Identify Them?
24 African Diaspora Churches: How to Identify Them? Besides meeting on Sundays (Saturdays for SDA churches) for vibrant services, they meet at least twice in a week for Bible studies and long prayers. Some of them have the ‘cell groupings’ that meet at homes for additional Bible studies.They mostly use English and French as the medium of communication during services and meetings. But, surprisingly, most of the churches led by Ghanaians use ‘Twi’ with interpreters during services.African Diaspora Churches: How to Identify Them?
25 African Diaspora Churches: How to Identify Them? While there are some variations in worship and liturgy styles, almost all their services are characterized by vibrant worship backed by musical instruments, singing, clapping and dancing.Most pay Tithe and give Offering at services. Two or more offerings are often taken at a service.African Diaspora Churches: How to Identify Them?
26 African Diaspora Churches: How to Identify Them? Finally, they are very particular about their dress code. They want put on their best attire to church, especially on Sundays. The men normally prefer to put on suit and tie. The women also take delight in putting on dignified African attire with matching colorful head gear.African Diaspora Churches: How to Identify Them?
27 African Diaspora Churches: What they do for the Communities At a time when Christianity is under siege in the lands it originated from and thrived, the marginalized Africans in Diaspora have emerged as "apostles” poised to expand the Christian mission and evangelization in the global spread of the faith. Furthermore, the African Churches in Diaspora have responded to the call of Jesus Christ to feed the hungry, house the homeless and cloth the naked by providing social services to the Diasporic communities.African Diaspora Churches: What they do for the Communities
28 African Diaspora Churches: What they do for the Communities Indeed the African Diasporic Churches approach theseindispensable social services with great sense ofurgency (Opoku, Onyina 2004, Pentecostalism and theAfrican Diaspora). The services they render are gearedmostly towards the new African immigrants but are alsoopened to all other communities. Some of suchblessings are:English as a second Language (ESL) classes.Job search networking support.African Diaspora Churches: What they do for the Communities
29 African Diaspora Churches: What they do for the Communities Helping members/others find affordable housing.Marriage Counseling.Giving ride/help with transportation.Help with immigration/refugee applications.Conflict resolution.Technology skills training, such as help with internet access and computer use.Youth and Children Mentorship and Tutorials, Summer School programs.African Diaspora Churches: What they do for the Communities
30 African Diaspora Churches: What they do for the Communities Help with social celebrations.Sports programs.Bereavement/funeral assistance.Food Bank provision to the general public.With the provision of such wide range of social services,the African Diasporic Churches serve as conduit ofhelping the settlers to adapt to in the new societies.African Diaspora Churches: What they do for the Communities
31 African Diaspora Churches: Their Challenges In the interest of balanced analysis, it is fair to acknowledge that the African Churches in Diaspora are not beyond reproach. Some of their challenges are:The African Diasporic churches are made up of about 99% Africans or people of African descent, and they are mostly reaching out to African migrants. There are only few exceptions like: Rev Sunday Adelaja’s Church - Blessed Embassy of the Kingdom of God for all Nations in Kiev, Ukraine which has over 90% “white” congregants. A million dollar question therefore is: if the Africa Missions in Diaspora indeed felt ‘called’ to world Missions and evangelization, then why are they not reaching up to people of all races?African Diaspora Churches: Their Challenges
32 African Diaspora Churches: Their Challenges (cont’d) Most of the Africa Diaspora Missions have some built-in power imbalance regarding gender. Even though women constitute the majority of the membership of these churches yet they play ‘second fiddle’ to the men. They are always the minority when it comes to leadership positions in the churches. Are the churches also guilty of creating the problem of ‘minorities within the minority’?African Diaspora Churches: Their Challenges (cont’d)
33 African Diaspora Churches: Their Challenges (cont’d) The high level display of wealth and class in terms of flamboyant cars, clothing outfits, shoes, and jewelries by leaders and members at Sunday Church services are becoming an eye sore.Normally, Africans are bad mix. Their social participation and integration into the wider societies in the North is very slow. Is the vast number of social services provided by the African Diaspora Churches to these immigrants a major factor?African Diaspora Churches: Their Challenges (cont’d)
34 African Diaspora Churches: Their Challenges (cont’d) The African Diaspora Churches are gradually deviating from their traditional preaching and teaching emphasis on morality, humility, prayer, Holy Spirit and eschatology to the popular “prosperity messages”. Will this not impede or derail their global Missions and evangelization agenda?African Diaspora Churches: Their Challenges (cont’d)
35 African Diaspora Churches: Their Challenges (cont’d) Their failure to attract the second generation Africans in Diaspora into their folds. Most of these second generation Africans started as children and youth in these churches but the overbearing influence of the Northern Hemisphere’s culture and values have drifted most of them from the churches into the hands of gangs, drug lords and eventually jail. Many of them daily face violence on the streets in the North. What agenda do the churches have for these young Africans?African Diaspora Churches: Their Challenges (cont’d)
36 African Diaspora Churches: Their Challenges (cont’d) Inability to establish better training facilities, and also systematic communication and awareness among the leaders and members to minimize syncretism and mismanagements in the churches.African Diaspora Churches: Their Challenges (cont’d)
37 African Diaspora Churches: Their Challenges (cont’d) Failure of their leaders, who are also leaders of the African Diasporic communities, to set better machinery to dialogue with the governments and leaders of the Northern societies on very pressing issues like:Racial discrimination due to the pre-fixed derogatory images of Africa.Restrictive regulations on immigration, employment, education, and the concept of multiculturalism by governments and agencies in the North.Tougher restrictive recent laws enacted by governments in the Northern societies making it difficulty, if not impossible, for the African Diaspora Churches to purchase and refurbish redundant church buildings and others building in the inner cities and re-dedicating the same for worship.African Diaspora Churches: Their Challenges (cont’d)
38 What African Diaspora Churches need to do about the Challenges Few suggestions as to how the African DiasporaChurches can counteract some of the challengesnumerated above are as follows:The African Churches in Diaspora should pull their resources together and establish training facilities that will equip both current and future leaders of the churches. Firstly, equipping pious Youth (future leaders) who have already taken on the culture, education and values of the North will help the churches to reach up to the second generation Africans.What African Diaspora Churches need to do about the Challenges
39 Surprisingly, many of these second generation Africans, who are seeking identity and acceptance in the North, want to kick against anything ‘African’. Only some of their ‘own’ may be able to reach up to them with the gospel. Moreover, the trained future leaders may also be able to sell the gospel better to the other races since they all have identical language (accent) and cultural training. Secondly, the training of the current leaders may also help minimize, if not, eradicate syncretism, ignorance, and mismanagement in the churches.What African Diaspora Churches need to do about the Challenges (cont’d)
40 Biblical principles which resonated with multiculturalism, self-reliance, social participation, and racial sensitivity must be taught and applied by the leaders and members of these churches. This will enhance Bible based civic education among the settlers.What African Diaspora Churches need to do about the Challenges (cont’d)
41 What African Diaspora Churches need to do about the Challenges Conferences, seminars, open forums should be organized frequently by the African Diasporic Church leaders’ to discuss pressing issues facing their communities and Churches. Furthermore, their unified voice must be made know to the governments and the authorities in the north.What African Diaspora Churches need to do about the Challenges
42 The African Churches in Diaspora (Africa Missions) have been a great blessing to the African settlers. The churches have been able to use their religious beliefs and formats to empower the new settlers spiritually, morally and socially to counteract the cultural shocks, alienation, and discrimination they encountered in the North. Moreover they have managed to equip and enlightened them with their host of social services.Blessings
43 The Africa Diasporic Churches, through evangelization and Missions, have been able to draw many of the African settlers from the curses of prostitution, drugs, human trafficking and terrorist activities to the saving knowledge of Lord Jesus Christ (Christianity). Thus helping to populate Heaven and depopulate Hell.Blessings
44 The marginalized African settlers who migrated mostly in the eighties and the nineties to the Northern Hemisphere as students, seamen, refugees and green pasture seekers have managed to preserve their cultures and identities and also created emotional and spiritual support through the establishment of various thriving African Diasporic churches. These churches are mainly Pentecostal, Charismatic, and also mainline churches that have been re-initiated by Africans.Conclusion
45 Africans and people of African descent are the majorities in these churches. Also the churches are self- supporting, self-evangelizing and self-governing with many having strong ecumenical and transnational ties with cognate missions in Africa. Even though the males dominate their leadership, women are the majority. Moreover, these churches are well noted for their vibrant and dynamic liturgical structures and styles of worship. To them ‘who says Church is boring?’.Conclusion (cont’d)
46 They are also providing a host of social services to the helpless immigrants as response to Jesus’ call to feed the hungry, cloth the naked, and house the homeless. Yet these Africa Diasporic Churches are guilty of not reaching out to many other races with the gospel. They are also not adequately reaching out to the second generation Africans who are also seeking identity and acceptance in the Northern societies. The individualistic tendencies and struggle for popularity and more followers on the part of their leaders are not helping the Diasporic communities and the churches either. They need to form a united front to dialogue with the various governments and authorities on pressing social, financial and moral issues confronting the Diasporic communities.Conclusion (cont’d)
47 Finally, Africa Missions in Diaspora needs much commendation than condemnation. Through their missions and evangelization agenda, many people who were shunning Christianity (including Muslims) are now converting into the faith in the North. Moreover, they are using their brand of Christianity to empower the African settlers to stand up against the social vices in the North. Their followers are now saying ‘no’ to prostitution, illegal drugs business, crimes, gangs, violence and other social vices which are seriously tormenting the societies in the North. Can this be termed ‘mission in reverse’?Conclusion (cont’d)
48 Conclusion I will end up with these four questions for brain storming and for further research:Is it true that the Africans in Diaspora are using Christianity to maintain their cultural identity, and also amplify their human and religious rights to facilitate their settlements in the Northern Hemisphere?Does the African Churches in Diaspora (African Missions) have some significant negative undertones that need to be unearthed?Conclusion
49 Would the African immigrants have found it necessary to join the African Churches in Diaspora, if they were accepted as simply ‘Christians’ in the Northern churches?Will the African Churches in Diaspora continue to appeal to the African settlers especially the “second generation Africans” as they become well educated and richer? Or are the Churches going to fall into the same spiritual state as the missionary and mainline churches in the North?Conclusion
50 “African Churches in Diaspora” (Africa Missions, Africa Diasporic Churches); Diaspora; Northern Hemisphere (North); Missions; settlers (African settlers).Key Words
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