The years 1901-1910 marked intense years of spiritual awakening that has been labeled a “Global Revival.” This revival sparked across the globe in Wales, Korea, India, America and East Africa. On Sept 1, in a post introducing you, the reader, to the Korean revival, Steve asked about the details of the East African Revival. Up till that time, I was clueless. I was, like many a Westerner, oblivious to the rich history of global Christianity. Even with the current focus on the Global South, see Philip Jenkins’ works The Next Christendom and The New Faces of Christianity among others, the history of Global Christianity can be easily overlooked. The problem with the history is that it was messy, full of foreign imperialism and dependency-laden national churches. Can we have an unbiased history of Global Christianity? Only time will tell.
Nonetheless, there is a story to be told. I am not going to tell that story now. Only a tidbit. I have a good African friend, a Luya from Kenya, who has a passion for his rich heritage. I leave it to him to write the story and publish it for you. He knows it better. Pray that God will allow him to follow through.
Unlike the western conception of Africa, there was a deep passion for Jesus and strong followers of Christ early in the twentieth century. For some reason, the number of Christians in Kenya alone skyrocketed from little over 10,000 to over 25% of the population in a short period of time, basically corresponding with the time period of the Welsh Revival and other Global Awakenings, though a little afterwards (1920’s and after). My friend tells me that the legacy of those awakened leaders persists in the African Church today. (See here for an article from Christianity Today.) Those early believers sent African missionaries to what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They also aided in the evangelization of southern Sudan and Ethiopia. Apparantly, the revival started in Rwanda, spread to Uganda, Kenya and beyond. But so much more information is needed.
Christianity in East Africa is deeper than what credit it is given. The addage goes–“The African Church is a mile wide, but only an inch deep.” Perhaps there is some truth to that, but the gospel is owned by the descendants of this revival so that there is great hope for the African Continent and beyond.
I only ask: Who else knows of this?
(Here’s an article from The Way Christian Ministries Website.)
If you have any resources to recommend, please respond.
If you have studied this somewhere, please share.
We need to know this history so that we may be mutually edified!! So that our misunderstandings can be corrected, so that we can learn to see our African brothers and sisters in Christ as equals.