An African Model for Mission


As the nations of Africa move into the 21st century, a new desire among the people there is rising. For centuries Africa has become, willingly or unwillingly, dependent on Europe and America. Now however, colonialism and the old missionary style must end. There is a new movement to rediscover the strength and conviction that gave rise to some of the first civilizations of the world. The following are some of the quotes that have been the most helpful as the Office of Foreign Missions has developed its ethos.


Three Self-Policy: Henry Venn, Church Mission Society, 1850. Venn thought that 19th century European missionary style represented only a temporary historical phase. The transition would come through “Three Self” policy, in which the African Christian church should be built on principles of self-government, self-support, and self-propagation. The result would be a “native church under native pastors and a native episcopate.” (From The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity by Philip Jenkins)

Independence: Bishop Joshua Ayoo Koyo of Kenya realized long ago that “those outside of Africa who would teach [his] people to depend on them for finances would bring about the death of initiative and hard work in [his] diocese.”


Nelson Mandela

Continental Renewal: Nelson Mandela,

the first African President of South Africa wrote:”Africa is beyond bemoaning the past for its problems. The task of undoing that past is ours, with the support of those willing to join us in a continental renewal. We have a new generation of leaders who know that we must take responsibility for our own destiny, that we will uplift ourselves only by our own efforts in partnership with those who wish us well.

African Renaissance: Current South African President Thebo Mbeki originally coined the term “African Renaissance:. He called upon African people and African nations themselves to solve the many problems troubling Africa. It continues to be a key part of the post-apartheid intellectual agenda.

In his “I am an African” speech in May 1996, following the adoption of a new constitution, Mbeki proclaimed, “I am born of a people who are heroes and heroines.”

“They are patient because history is on their side; the masses do not despair because today the weather is bad. Nor do they turn triumphalist when, tomorrow, the sun shines. Whatever the circumstances they have lived through and because of that experience, they are determined to define for themselves who they are and who they should be.”

In April 1997, Mbeki listed the elements that would eventually be seen to comprise the African Renaissance: social cohesion, democracy, economic rebuilding and growth, and the establishing of Africa as a significant player in geo-political affairs.