Christianity in Africa is like.... #1

Having been in Africa for 10 minutes now, and having spent all of that in a transit lounge in Johannesburg I feel I am well-placed to comment on the much-discussed question of 'what Christianity in Africa is like'.

The typical line is that 'Christianity in Africa is like a lake that is a mile wide and an inch deep'. This is meant to convey the idea that there are Christians as far as the eye can see, but not a lot of maturity or depth of knowledge, with the implication that much of it may not even be 'real' once you dip your toe in. 

This is a fascinating summary, but I should confess I hope to muddy the waters of said lake. If I come back saying the same line either it is very, very true, or I haven't had my eyes and ears open.  I hope to add to the geography of the lake as we go.

So it may surprise you to hear that so far, Christianity in Africa is a 70 year old Northern Irish Pentecostal from Belfast hoping for the restoration of Jerusalem. 

Hugh now lives in South Africa, and he clearly knows Jesus and clearly knows the scriptures and has a different take on Old Testament prophecy to me. He is sure prophecies of Jerusalem's restoration (Eg. Is 52) will be fulfilled with Jews going back to Jerusalem and becoming Messianic Jesus-believers there. 

Interestingly, he is not interested in many Africans coming to know Jesus, or Australians for that matter, because he thinks the gospel has already gone to the Gentiles (non-Jews), and is now returning in one last wave to Israel. 

His ideas were more historical than biblical, but not entirely without scriptural sources. I didn't buy it, but we encouraged each other greatly and I was somewhat saddened by his lack of enthusiasm for the gospel still going to the ends of the earth.

If Christianity in Africa is like a lake a mile wide and an inch deep, it is a lake with a little bay of Guiness-coloured water and a clear view all the way to Israel. 

I understand I have only the barest portion of my littlest toe in the lake. After all, I am drinking English Breakfast tea in a transit lounge, listening to Bob Marley while four very white Australians play Uno next to me. I think there is more to see yet.