Saturday, April 22, 2006
Boom in African Christianity Spills over to America: The Redeemed Christian Church of God was founded in Lagos, Nigeria by men and women who were once the target of missionary work themselves, according to an Associated Press report. Now, Redeemed Church has become one of the most aggressive evangelizers to emerge from the advance of Christianity across Africa. Jacob Olupona, a professor at the University of California-Davis, has found hundreds of examples in cities large and small. "Anyone who writes about Christianity in America in the 21st century," Olupona said, "will have to write about African churches." Over the last century, Christians in Nigeria have swelled from a tiny minority to nearly half the population, and Nigerian pastors have shown an exceptional talent for winning believers abroad. In the U.S., the Redeemed Church has opened more than 200 parishes in just over a decade, and is training pastors of all ethnicities to reach beyond the church's base in the African immigrant community. One of its largest congregations, Victory Temple in Bowie, Md., claims 2,000 members. Fifty miles north of Dallas, the church is building a multimillion-dollar national headquarters and conference complex on more than 600 acres of farm land. The Redeemed Church is Pentecostal and, through evangelism, has become the fastest-growing wing of Christianity worldwide.