Press Release New book released: World Christianity in Western Europe: Diasporic Identity, Narratives and Missiology

World Christianity in Western Europe is a new book edited by Israel Oluwole Olofinjana and published by Regnum Books, Studies in Mission (Oxford Centre for Mission Studies).

A short video Interview about the book with Dr Harvey Kwiyani (Director of Missio Africanus). You can watch it here  Interview with Dr Harvey Kwiyani

A brief description of the book:

Christianity is a world religion, with an estimated 2.3 billion Christians. While World Christianity, with its attention on the explosive growth of Christianity in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Pacific and Oceania, is certainly significant, it is also important to consider World Christianity as it is developing in Europe. This book investigates this phenomenon in Western Europe, through the prisms of Diasporic Identity, migrant narratives and their mission theology. It considers the complex Christian identity of people migrating to Europe, their stories and mission praxis.


Here is a book including contributors who are scholars and practitioners. These scholars and practitioners are Europeans as well as migrants from the Majority World (Africans, Caribbeans, South Asians and Latin Americans), and employing an interdisciplinary approach, their work encompasses the fields of Diaspora Missiology, Practical Theology, World Christianity, Contextual Theology and Pentecostal Studies.


The book tells different stories of Majority World Christians in Europe such as immigrant Pentecostal churches in Sweden, contributions of Majority World Christians in Wales, conversion experiences of British Gujarati Indians, Brazilian missionaries in Britain and Italy and South Korean mission strategy in Europe/Central Asia. Scholars, pastors and students of mission will find this book useful as a resourceful tool on Diaspora Missiology.

What Scholars are saying about this book:

‘By placing the stories, identities and theologies of Christians from the Majority World in Europe at the centre of scholarly attention, this exciting interdisciplinary collection challenges, deepens and expands conversations about ‘world Christianity’, diasporic identity, and Christianity in Europe. Anyone seeking to reflect theologically on contemporary experiences of migration, transnationalism and intercultural encounter should engage with the material presented in this book’.

Rachel Muers, Professor of Theology, School of Philosophy, Religion and the History of Science, University of Leeds

‘Christianity in Western Europe is a thrilling collection of voices all attesting to one thing: God is on the move and mission across Europe has become the collective responsibility of Christians from the four corners of the world.’

Rev Dr Canon Joel Edwards, CBE, International Consultant on Mission and Global Justice issues

‘This book is a significant contribution to the ongoing shaping of new global Christianity through migration. The European reflections and stories in this book remind us of two fundamental features of God’s kingdom: Mission forces often come from the margins, and the true Church is meant to embrace and celebrate diversity.’

Wonsuk Ma, Ph.D., Dean, Distinguished Professor of Global Christianity, College of Theology and Ministry, Oral Roberts University   

World Christianity in Western Europe is a distinctive contribution from scholars and leaders on issues arising from changing shape of Christian identity and growing migration. Their dialogues and perspectives offer crucial prophetic challenges for those keen to embrace diversities of leadership, migrants and diaspora mission for European churches. I recommend this unique volume highly to thinkers and practitioners of European and diaspora mission.’

Dr Kang San Tan, General Director, Baptist Missionary Society (BMS)

‘This volume presents patterns and perspectives of fresh missional horizons and provides the variety and vitality of Christian gatherings being shaped by Europe’s changing demographics. Insightful and inspiring!’

Rev. Dr. T.V. Thomas, Chairman
Lausanne’s Global Diaspora Network (GDN)


The book has been a three-year research project for Israel Olofinjana. This has included finding the right people from across Europe to contribute, and seeking to engage current scholarship in the area of World Christianity. It is hoped that this volume, demonstrating various strands of diaspora discourse in Western Europe, will help to develop diasporic theologies of mission in Western Europe.


The book, retailing for £9.60, is available through Oxford Centre for Mission Studies and other online retailers.



End Notes


The book is published by Regnum Studies in Mission


Edited by Rev Israel Oluwole Olofinjana, founding director of Centre for Missionaries from the Majority World and Senior Pastor of Woolwich Central Baptist Church

Contact email:


Contributors are:


Tope Bello grew up in south London and came to know the Lord in her late teenage years. Her upbringing encouraged her to become involved in youth and prison work, before attending Oak Hill College to study Theology.  She is now a member of a Christian organisation called Black Berea, which hopes to engage the Black British culture and community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


Dr Stephen D Dye, PhD, Biola University is the founding pastor of CrossWay International Baptist Church in Berlin, Germany and missionary field leader of the Associate of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE) in Germany.

Dr Rosalee Velloso Ewell is Principal of Redcliffe College, UK. She is on the editorial boards of Evangelical Review of Theology (World Evangelical Alliance theological journal) and International Review of Mission (World Council of Churches journal).

Flavio Gurattos was born and brought up in Brazil. He comes from a business background but closed his company to become a full time cross cultural missionary. Former Public Policy and Advocacy Team of the Evangelical Alliance UK as the coordinator of Speak Up and is now working as a policy advisor for the British Government.

Hun Kim is Diaspora Consultant for Wycliffe Global Alliance and Korean Research Institute for Diaspora. He is the visionary behind Equip 7 Learning Community, which is a pioneering diaspora training in Germany.

Nils Malmström has a BDiv. from Lund University. He has been doing research about Africa Pentecostalism in both Nigeria and Sweden since 2004. For several years, he has been working to increase knowledge and understanding of the new ecclesiastic landscape due to the emergence of Pentecostal Migrant churches in Sweden.

Dr Dulcie Dixon McKenzie is the Director of Centre for Black Theology and Tutor in Black Theology and Ministries at Queens Foundation for Theological Ecumenical Education, Birmingham. She is also an executive member of Society for the Study of Theology (SST).

Rev Claire Ord is a Baptist minister and a Baptist Missionary Society (BMS) mission worker. She has an MA in Applied Theology and is a hospital chaplain. She is a mother of three children.

Rev Mark Ord is a Baptist minister and director of training of Baptist Missionary Society (BMS) in Birmingham. He also lectures with Moorlands College and is currently working on a PhD in Theology at Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam through Queens Foundation in Birmingham.

Usha Patel Reifsnider is a first generation British Gujarati Christ follower, transcultural mission consultant and PhD researcher. She is also one of the directors of Centre for Missionaries from the Majority World. Usha is on the Co-ordination and Executive Team of Lausanne Europe.

Jim Stewart is currently pursuing a PhD at the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies and working part-time for Oxfam in Wales as Media and Communications Officer. Before that, he worked for 12 years with Evangelical Alliance in Wales as Public Policy Officer. He has worked extensively among refugees and asylum seekers and has developed strong links with Majority-World Christian communities in Wales. His wife is a former refugee from Eritrea and the couple have a young boy, Caleb.


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Faith Perspectives: Six Theological Responses to Coronavirus

As COVID-19 continues to rampage our world and as our collective humanity tries different measures in order to survive, I have been reflecting theologically on what Coronavirus evokes in us as God’s people. Some of these theological responses are not particular to people of faith, but common to us all (faith or no faith). But perhaps because viewed through the lens of faith gives a different meaning to the themes covered. These six responses are not also an exhaustive list because there will be other responses besides these six. The six responses are Ontological, Sabbatical, Ecological, Ecclesiological, Missiological and Eschatological.

Ontological: Coronavirus is causing us to ask the big questions such as what is the meaning of life? what is our existence and  why are we here? Amidst multiple deaths in different countries on different continents, these forces us to reflect on life itself. Brexit was our major concern before in the UK, but with this new threat no one is really talking about Brexiteers and Remainers, but how can we survive COVID-19 together?

Sabbatical: With different government applying different measures that restrict our movement, Coronavirus is forcing on us an extended kind of sabbath. Now our understanding of sabbath is rest, however this enforced sabbatical  is not necessarily encouraging us to rest because we are pre-occupied with how we are going to survive whether that be going out to buy food when we run out, or self-isolating because someone has COVID-19 or someone in our household has it. Has the measures and restrictions COVID-19 requires disturbs us mentally, spiritually, pyschologically and physically, we still have to yield to this enforced extended sabbatical if we are going to survive this together. Everyone playing their part in not going out unless absolutely necessary must be viewed as a positive sabbatical if we are to combat COVID-19.

Ecological: Before Coronavirus outbreak, one of the dominant global discourses was the subject of climate change. Greta Thunberg’s cause now feels like ages ago in the light of what is emerging. But what is however interesting and crucial as a result of Coronavirus is that as we have less cars on the road and planes flying, it begs the question whether this is reducing our carbon emissions? If I may dare pose the question, is Coronavirus then good for climate change? This is a difficult question to answer, but I couldnt but help wonder to think how less cars and planes flying is good for the environment at this critical time.

Ecclesiological: COVID-19 is forcing us to rethink how we do church and what church actually means. The situation is bringing about the true meaning of the church as expressed in the Greek words Kuriakon (belonging to the Lord) and Ekklesia (the community of called out ones or believers). Although the meaning of Kuriakon later changed to be used in the sense of church building, but the original meaning was people belonging to the Lord. The fact that we cannot physically gathered together because of a threat to our existence  is pushing us back to understand that our life is not our own and that we belong to the Lord as a community of called out ones as we meet online. More than ever before the church is cherishing its community of people more than the building which in some cases dominate our mission. Countless articles have been written on how the mission of the church is more about maintenance than mission. Pastoral care also takes on a new meaning as we do this through social media or good old fashion phone call on the landline to congregants who are not on social media or have a mobile. We are rediscovering what church community really means.

Missiological: Following on from rethinking how we do church is how we do mission. Now there is something within the church that we call Fresh Expressions of church which is the attempt of the church to be incarnational in doing church for the un-churched. This expression of the church allows for creative thinking as we consider discipleship and mission in a post-Christendom context. While there are some genuinely Fresh Expressions of church such as churches planted in housing estate areas, cafe churches, messy church and so on, one of the problems within this movement of church is that some of the initiatives are not actually expressing anything fresh because they are only putting the tag “Fresh Expression” on old ways of doing church! However, with the current Corona-climate, we are beginning to see authentic Fresh Expressions of church emerge online. Christians  ( and non-Christians) are reaching out to their neighbours by getting to know them and helping them with food provisions. The various online platforms for streaming Sunday services is reaching beyond the church walls and perhaps for the first time we have a chance in this post-modern, post-church context to reach people we could not reach before.

Eschatological:  The last theological response is how Coronavirus is forcing us to ask the question, is this the end? Here is a question being asked by people of faith as well as people of no faith. For people of faith, particularly Christians, some of us are examining the apocalyptic texts in the Bible such as the book of Zechariah, Revelation and the popular Jesus discourse in Matthew 24 in the light of recent world events. Anyone reading Matthew 24 will almost want to conclude that Jesus is living in our time as they are very spot on on recent global events. All the millennial theories and rapture theories (if you are a dispensationalist) are being examined in the light of Ebola outbreak, Syrian refugee crisis, Presidency of Donald Trump, climate change, Brexit and Coronavirus. Is this indeed the end of the world as prophesied in scripture? Is Coronavirus the new Anti-christ? There are no easy answers and only time will tell, but one thing is for sure, we are definitely living in uncertain times as we confront Coronavirus. Whether we believe that this world will be destroyed and a new one created or the current one will be renewed, it is my prayer that God will prepare us for the second coming of Jesus!

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The Genesis of the Aladura Movement in Nigeria: Lessons to be learned on Coronavirus

Our world is facing global challenges that is making us to think and respond in different ways. We are facing climate change all across the globe, Coronavirus also is spreading at an alarming rate, the refugee crisis is still escalating and Post-Brexit is still with us if only now in the margins. Many are responding with fear and panic and resolving to stock piling as it feels and looks like the end of the world is near. But here is where we can learn something from church history and particularly from World Christianity. During and after the First World War (1914-1918), which obviously claimed so many lives, there was a deadly worldwide epidemic influenza which was sometimes known as the Spanish flu, some described it as a bubonic and small pox epidemic. It is recorded that within a short time as many died from the plague as had died from the four years World War. It is estimated that over ten million people died from the plague. One of the effects of this epidemic was an economic recession that hit the world then as several institutions closed or shut down.

It was during such hardship and turmoil that the Aladuras in Nigeria were born. The colonial authorities and the mission churches in West Africa withdrew as institutions such as schools, hospitals, clinics, colonial offices and churches closed. An example was the resident minister at St Savior’s  CMS church in Ijebu-Ode in south-west Nigeria, Rev Gansallo who vacated his post and made an exit out of Nigeria. Yoruba Christians were disappointed at how the mission churches seemed helpless in the face of the disaster. The result was that these indigenous Christians gathered together praying in peoples homes, front rooms and in the front of locked churches. These prayer groups gathered momentum in south-west Nigeria that they later became prayer movements. The name Aladura has been variously interpreted as people that love to pray or people that prays. They earned such names because of their belief that God can heal through prayers, fasting and dependence on God. Many of them would gather to pray during these crisis and they saw healing taking place. Perhaps the culmination of their prayers was the revivals that took place in Nigeria from around 1918 till the 1930s which saw people healed, mass conversions and revival movements established. Examples of these prayer movements are Egbe Okuta Iyebiye which is translated as Precious Stone Society or Diamond Society, Faith Tabernacle, The Apostolic Church and Christ Apostolic Church to mention a few.

As Coronavirus continues to spread, can the church go on its knees and pray for revival? Can we trust God for healing people again? If God can use the Aladuras who in the face death chose to depend on God, can we during this lent season commit ourselves to prayer and fasting for the healing of the world? As we take precautions and follow healthy guidelines on personal hygiene, let us also remember that we serve a God that can heal.  Let us be beacons of hope in this dark times.

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The Explosive Growth of African Christianity: Tributes to Pastor Gabriel Diya’s Family

Past and recent church statistics are saying that the continent of Africa now has the highest number of Christians in the world. The center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-conwell University latest statistics puts African Christianity at the highest with a projection of 7 million by the end of 2025 ( Brierley consultancy also projects that while world Christians will grow by +11% between 2020 and 2030, African Christians will grow +30% (  Missiologists, anthropologists, social scientists, mission agencies and church denominations have been asking the question why African Christianity is growing exponentially?

While there are several answers one can reasoned out, one that I want to focus on here is pure faith in our Lord Jesus Christ in times of crisis. Many of us were shocked when we heard the tragic accident and passing away of Pastor Gabriel Diya and his two lovely children Praise- Emmanuel and Comfort in Costa del sol pool on Christmas eve last year. As a friend of Pastor Diya, I  am one of the people priviledged to attend the service of songs and funeral service at New Wine Church in Woolwich on the 3rd and 4th of February respectively. At  a packed service of songs full of church leaders, civic leaders, teachers, family, youth, friends and well wishers, we all heard from Pastor Bunmi Diya (wife of Pastor Gabriel). Perhaps, what was surprising  was the expectation that grief would have taken its toll and the day unbearable for her and the remaining daughter, Favour Diya, but she  and Favour displayed a remarkable faith that demonstrates a confidence in God that is unequal. When she spoke to give what one might call the vote of thanks for the amazing support she  and Favour have received since the  tragic accident, she comforted and encouraged the congregation. The congregation were supposed to give comfort, but rather Pastor Bunmi comforted us with her words. She believed clearly with conviction that although tragic and sad but that Pastor Gabriel with Emmanuel-Praise and Comfort are in heaven and that it was their appointed time. This is an unparalleled faith in time of crisis and the sort that I think is making African Christianity to keep growing. Despite severe hardship, difficulties, sets backs, disappointments, African Christians are resilient in their faith that they will not give up on God just because things are not going well.

Some critics might speculate that may be she did that as a show for the public. I do not think so, because Pastor Agu Irukwu, the national overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) of which Pastor Gabriel is one of their pastors, told the congregation yesterday that when they heard what had happened and went to see Pastor Bunmi and Favour personally, she encouraged and comforted them instead of Pastor Agu comforting them. Pastor Agu described it as a miracle to have gone through such a traumatic ordeal and yet remain faithful to God. In addition, Pastor Bunmi is a woman of integrity and character who has inspired so many of us with her authentic faith. Perhaps, it is this kind of faith in time of crisis that the world can learn from African Christianity.

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Tribute to Professor John S Mbiti: A Pioneer of Modern African Theology

Today I heard the news that Professor John Mbiti sadly passed away on the 5th of October.  On the one hand, this makes me very sad that we have lost another African Theologian, the other we lost early this year was Professor Lamin Sanneh (1942-2019) who passed away on the 6th of January. On the other hand, these two pioneers have help to lay the foundation of what we refer to as Modern African Theological scholarship.

The pioneering work of Professor John Mbiti is in the fact that he is one of the architects that formulate African Theological enterprise at a time when Africans were not considered scholars. If Ajayi Crowther defies his time by being an African that shows aptitude to learning which goes against the grain and popular theory of the time that Africans are less human and are definitely not advance enough to learn. Professor Mbiti furthered the journey by asking questions that critiqued colonial Christianity’s view of Africans and African religions. This was in arguing and articulating that African Religions and culture are also important materials in the study of Christianity. He went further by asserting that just as the Old Testament prepared the Jews for Jesus so did African Traditional Religions prepared Africans for the reception of the Gospel. It was this preparation and openness to the world of the supernatural that made the modern mission movement a success. Whereas before, European mission movement and colonial officers saw African Religions and customs as barbaric, savage, heathen, pagan and uncivilized, the likes of Professor John Mbiti help to change the language so that African Traditional Religions (ATR) was seen as an important religion like Christianity or Islam.

Interestingly, we all know him today as an African Theologian, but his studies positions him as a New Testament scholar. This is why Another area of his contribution are his Bible translation projects a major one being the Kiikamba Bible Project. He felt that some earlier  Bible translations into some East African languages were not accurate therefore embarked on new projects that saw the New Testament translated into his own language, Kiikamba.  Professor Mbiti is the first African scholar to translate the Bible single-handedly from the original Biblical languages into an African mother-tongue. This translation has caused a lot of excitement in Kenya and beyond, and a Project has arisen out of the publication.

Another area of his pioneering work is his ecumenical work which saw him working for World Council of Churches (WCC) institution in Switzerland. Perhaps the significance of this was that there was a time when African Churches were not considered church enough to be part of the ecumenical movement. This changed over time with people like Professor Mbiti and African Indigenous Churches (AICs).

On a personal note, I had the priviledge of meeting Professor Mbiti in 2015 at one of the Missio Africanus conferences put together by one of my colleagues, Dr Harvey Kwiyani. It became very clear as our friendship developed that here was a father who like to see his children prosper as he encouraged me on a number of projects I was working on. One of such projects was editing the work African Voices: Towards African British Theologies (2017). I asked Professor Mbiti to write a foreword to this book as I could not think of anyone else to do so. He agreed, but had some concerns. His concern was the way myself and other theologians use the label black such as Black Majority Churches (BMCs), Black-led church, Black Theology and so on. Below is an excerpt of one of our email conversations on the subject:

I wondered about – and am rather disturbed by – your use of the term „Blacks“ for Africans. It is not your invention, and it is circulating widely in Britain and America. However, I find it inappropriate to use it, when it has so bad connotations. It is originally a racist term, invention, and abusive. By using it people are simply perpetuating and promoting racism -in my judgement. We ourselves in Africa do not use this term, except perhaps a bit in South Africa where it was wrapped up with Apartheid. At least not in East Africa. Furthermore, there are millions and millions of people in India, Middle East, Pacific, Caribbean, etc. who have brown, dark, and mixed skin colours. How can they be distinguished from one another if they are all bundled „Black“? Furthermore, the peoples of Africa have many skin colors – dark, brown, pink, mixture, fading colors, combination of parts brown, parts pink, parts red… The skin is not the content of who they are as human beings.

(Picture taken at Missio Africanus Conference in 2015)

From left to right: Dr Babatunde Adedibu, Provost of the Redeemed Christian Bible College, Lagos, Nigeria, Rev Israel Olofinjana, CMMW Director, Late Professor John Mbiti, Paul Thaxter, CMS Director of International Mission, Dr Harvey Kwiyani, Liverpool Hope University and Dr Cathy Ross, CMS Head of Pioneer Mission Leadership Training

Here it is very clear that Professor Mbiti understood that the construction of blackness was a social construct of the Enlightenment thinking therefore his uneasiness of the term. He was very strong in his conviction to the extent that he felt he could not write the foreword. I persuaded him that he could actually write the foreword including his reservations and thoughts on the use of the term black as I thought what he was sharing was something very crucial. He agreed and so what we have in the foreword of African Voices: Towards African British Theologies are his reflections on the subject which has now generated conversations online through Bishop Joe Aldred and other avenues.

We will miss Professor John Mbiti for his works and challenge to us and it is because of people like him that some of us can call ourselves African Theologians!

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Reflective Report of the Conference: The State of Diaspora Mission in the UK

Written by Brenda Amondi, One of CMMW Directors. An African reverse missionary from Kenya and currently studying for an MTh at St Mellitus College, London

The state of diaspora mission in the UK conference was recently held at All Nations Christian College in Ware, Hertfordshire. It was well attended with about 60 participants representing Bible Colleges, church networks, mission agencies across Europe- with a huge percentage of people coming from the UK.

One of the visions for this conference was to gather missionaries, church leaders, students and practitioners seeking to be involved in diaspora mission in the UK, and across Europe. The goal was that these groups of people would enhance collaboration and learn from one another, with the hope of increasing the impact of evangelizing Europe with the Gospel of Christ.

The presence of Rev. Joel Edwards as a plenary speaker was a great blessing. He offered great insights on the issue of diaspora and what it means to be of a diaspora status. In his first session, he offered an amateur overview of diaspora experiences in the context of Christian missionaries within the UK. His presentation included the vexed issue of immigration and migration, relating this with the story of Daniel as an immigrant in Babylon (Daniel 1). Just like Daniel, you find that most Christian missionaries come to the UK or Europe, by default with immigrant status. With this, Rev. Joel also pointed out how this can serve as a disadvantage because the people from the host country may not be very receptive. They may see immigrants as people who come to change their country and cause economic decline. Issues like rampant nationalism emerge and politicization of the migrant becomes prevalent. This was an interesting angle to take, as at the end of the session he posed the question– ‘How do diaspora communities in the UK reach out as missionaries if the people they are reaching out to do not receive or accept them?’

In the same measure, diaspora communities face the challenge of identity and belonging, especially with the desire to balance out the mother culture and the current culture they are in. Many find themselves with a deep desire to create a place of belonging in the new culture without drawing largely from the host culture. As a missionary, this is particularly hard because one of the avenues of reaching out to people in the host country is by largely being immersed in that culture and almost do things the way they do- at least for a while.

As much as the diaspora discussions were interesting, the other sessions involved missionaries across Europe sharing their experiences and stories. The stories shared were not only encouraging to the Christian community, but they allowed us to celebrate what God is doing across Europe. We had Pastor Tani Omideyi of Temple of Praise church in Liverpool, share his experience of pastoring a multicultural congregation in the UK. From his story, one could see how he has managed to lead the church in such a way that the host culture is acknowledged, while at the same time the diaspora communities have an equal voice. One of his greatest tools has been Rick Warren’s circles of commitment- community, crowd, congregation, committed and core (see the link to the diagram below). The idea is to know where your congregation members fall in these five categories, and the challenge is to formulate processes that move people from the outside inward. One of the ways Pst. Tani has done that is through the celebration of each culture represented in his congregation- through food, music, dressing and language.



Another fascinating story was from Pastor Peter Rong. Pst. Peter is a missionary originally from South Sudan to Romania. He has been in Romania for the past 28years and his passion for making Jesus known still burns brightly. He ministers at Spiritual Revival Baptist Church in Bucharest. His main message was that of sharing the Love of Jesus and truly making disciples of all nations. His stories include discipling and baptising people from Iran, Ethiopia, Romania and many other countries across eastern Europe. You can read more about Pastor Peter Rong’s story here

One last story included that of Rita Rimkiene of World Café in Brunswick Baptist Church-Gloucester. Rita and her team have a heart for refugees and the homeless and one of the ways they show their love to these people is by building a community with them around food. Being a ‘stranger’ to this country herself, she understands the challenges of trying to navigate through so many things-including making friends and meaningful connections. One of the ways Rita and the team show love is by embodying hospitality, and that way they are able to bridge the physical and the spiritual needs of the people they reach out to. (

The conference also included group discussions (approximately 4 people in each group) and this created a bigger platform for everyone present to share their stories and network at a deeper level.

This conference sparked many good discussions and left most, if not all present, to think through diaspora mission and the issue of immigration. All in all, we should remember that migration is to be viewed as an opening for the evangelistic dimension of mission. As missionaries to the UK, and across Europe, our allegiance ought to be first to God, and then be Christ-like by showing love to the people we have been called to minister and serve. That to some extent may require us to enter the host culture with a humble posture and a willingness to learn first, before we engage in matters of discipleship.

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A Brief History of Deeper Life Bible Church


Deeper Life Bible Church is one of the oldest and biggest Neo Pentecostal Churches (NPCs) in Africa. The founder of this church is William Folorunso Kumuyi, popularly known as W.F. Kumuyi. Pastor Kumuyi was brought up in a strict Anglican family but it was in the Apostolic Faith Church, a Pentecostal holiness church from North America at Ikenne, that he became born again in 1964. Pastor Kumuyi attended the famous Mayflower School at Ikenne for his secondary education and after completing his Higher School Certificate he went to study mathematics at the University of Ibadan. He later graduated in 1967 with a first class honours in mathematics. While he was studying at the University of Ibadan he was involved with Ibadan Varsity Christian Union (IVCU) and he also continued to attend the Apostolic Faith Church.

After graduation Pastor Kumuyi went back to teach at Mayflower School. It was while he was teaching at Mayflower that he became involved with the work of Scripture Union (SU). In 1971 he did a post-graduate diploma course in Education at the University of Lagos. In 1972 he was employed as a Lecturer at the same University and he retired in 1983 in order to serve as a full-time pastor. It was while he was a Lecturer at the College of Education, University of Lagos that he started a Bible study group for students and non-students in 1973.[i] As a result of Pastor Kumuyi’s exposition and interpretation of Scriptures more students began to attend and Pastor Kumuyi was also invited on numerous occasions to speak at seminars, conferences and other Christian gatherings.

In 1975, the Bible study group had its first retreat at Akoka, Lagos State, which later became a major landmark in the history of Deeper Life Bible Church. The same year the name Deeper Christian Life Ministry was adopted by the group. In 1976 Deeper Life had an Easter retreat which attracted around 2,500 people. In 1977 Pastor Kumuyi left the Apostolic Faith Church due to doctrinal differences.[ii]

Through Pastor Kumuyi’s publications and retreats the message of holiness and sanctification was spread all over Nigeria. This holiness code has become a defining feature for Deeper Life Christians in Africa and abroad. In 1983 Deeper Life experienced a dramatic growth through House Fellowships known as ‘home caring fellowships’, and by February of the same year 15,000 house fellowships were established all over the country.[iii] This became a concept that other NPCs started to use. In the early 1990s Deeper Life had more than 5,000 branch churches in Nigeria and many more branches all over Africa. The headquarters of the church at Gbagada attracts around 150,000 attendants during its five Sunday services. Deeper Life Bible Church started in Britain in 1985 through the pioneering work of Pre Ovia. The church now has about 65 church plants in the UK and Republic of Ireland. The church also have been planted in Bulgaria, Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden and New Zealand.

The UK church recently purchased a former cinema building in St John’s Hill, Clapham Junction in London. The multi-purpose building has been fully refurbished into a modern auditorium with the capacity to seat 2,500 people.


[i] Musa A.B. Gaiya, The Pentecostal Revolution in Nigeria, a paper presented at a seminar of the Centre of African Studies, University of Copenhagen, 2002, p. 12.

[ii] Alan Isaacson, Deeper Life: The Extraordinary Growth of Deeper Life Bible Church, London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1990, p.125.

[iii] Ojo, op cit., p. 168.

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Review of Roots and Wings: Equipping and Empowering Young Diaspora Africans for Life and Mission By Rev Israel Olofinjana

Roots and Wings is a new book written by one of my friends and colleague, Dr Harvey Kwiyani. The book explores issues related to how to effectively engage in discipleship and mission second generation African migrants. These are children born in Britain of African parents.  As a pastor of a Black Multicultural Church (BMC) in London with half of the congregation being second generation Africans, this book excites me and is of paramount interest to me.  As an African Theologian researching in the areas of Diaspora Missiology, I am aware that essays, journal articles and book chapters have been written on the subject. An example of the latter is Caleb Nyanni’s chapter contribution in African Voices: Towards African British Theologies (2017). His contribution, based on his ongoing PhD research, investigated the pneumatology of second generation Africans within the Church of Pentecost. I am equally aware of a current doctoral student exploring the use of the Bible among second generation Caribbean Christians within one of the Caribbean Pentecostal churches. But no one has yet published a monograph on the subject in Britain, therefore the efforts of Dr Kwiyani is to be commended for pioneering such a work.

The central question the book wrestles with is, how can we best equip and disciple younger generation of Africans for mission in Britain? In tackling this question are the issues of identity which second generation Africans or others struggle with. Are they Africans or British? Can they be both at the same time? These are questions to do with hybridity and liminality. But the book goes further than just a sociological exercise on the hybrid nature of second generation as it proposes insightful and pragmatic approach in how we can effectively disciple and empower younger Africans to engage in God’s mission. In effect, the book is missiological, addressing the mission implication of younger Africans’ involvement in mission in Britain. The book sees reaching second generation Africans not only as a form of intergenerational ministry, but also a cross-cultural matter as it is possible for a father and daughter living in the same house to live by different cultural worldviews. In essence, the first generation must cross the frontiers as missionaries do when they travel to a different culture if they want their children to follow their faith.

The book, using the Hebrew saying of giving two gifts to children in roots and wings, explores how important it is for younger Africans born in diaspora to have a sense of belonging and identity, that is roots, but at the same time not be trapped by their parents’ cultural background so that they can grow wings to explore something foreign to their parent’s culture. The author argues that when roots and wings are not balanced, we have scenarios of younger Africans being global citizens at the expense and sacrifice of their Africaness. The other scenario is of course when African parents do not want their children to explore anything that is alien to their own cultural background and worldview. This, in the process entraps younger Africans and the result usually backfires so that they reject their parent’s faith and culture. The author went on to argue convincingly that the future of Christianity in the British Isles   is at stake if we fail to disciple second generation Africans. One can understand this assertion, because if the current growth of Christianity in the UK, with London as a leading example, is among Black Majority Churches, it simply means the future legacy of these churches is conditioned on how that faith is passed on to the next generation.

All the chapters in this book are excellent, but one that I find very helpful and know will be of use to youth pastors, leaders and church leaders in general is chapter six. The chapter addresses how we can build second generation friendly churches so that younger Africans and others feel a sense of belonging. One of the suggestions in this chapter was for African pastors and churches to ensure that the church is thinking intergenerational in its approach and outlook. This means the church cannot be run to cater just for the needs of the first generation, it has to rethink and give room to second generation Africans to operate in the church so that they feel a sense of ownership and belonging. This is not a question of how do we keep our young people in the church so that they do not run off to another church. It is rather a question of how can we empower and support our younger people in their faith and ministries?

Part of engaging younger Africans will mean African pastors and churches understanding the digital native culture, that is, how young people live and inhabit the digital space. This will mean African pastors interested in using technology not just to promote their self-help books and conferences, but understand how to habit it comfortably so that they can engage younger people. Younger generation appears to use the digital world for sharing life together and doing discipleship. This is different from wanting to use the tools of technology to promote sales of books or conferences. This means for African pastors to engage second generation Africans they have to themselves become natives of the digital world. This however is not a substitute for face to face fellowship which younger Africans must be encouraged to be part of.

One critique I will like to offer is that while the author mentions that the Caribbean churches somehow failed to pass on the faith to their second generation and that African churches must learn from this. I would have like to see a whole chapter possibly devoted to this looking at what led to the failures and what African churches can learn from those failures. Such a chapter can even compare through analysis and data collection African churches and Caribbean churches. Perhaps this is for further research and reflection.

In concluding, a succinct point that the author makes is that if African churches can seek to understand their children who are British perhaps this can in turn help them to understand the wider British public and their mission in Britain.

Posted in African Church History and Theology, Black Majority Churches (BMCs) | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Black Theology at the Royal Wedding!

Conversations are still ongoing about the preaching of Bishop Michael Curry at the Royal Wedding on Saturday. These conversations and debates cover the length of the message, the awkwardness of the message, the reactions of attendees to the message and the Blackness of the message! Normally at Royal weddings the Bride’s dress among other things always appears to be the topic of public conversation, but not this time as Bishop Curry’s message appears to be competing with Meghan’s simple yet stylish, elegant dress. So what is all the fuss about?

Firstly is the fact that white British people are not used to an African-American style of preaching with emotions involved, gestures and pacing.  A second point is that people somehow were expecting a five minute sermon ( although we have not been informed by the planners and organisers that this was supposed to be the case). Lastly and most importantly are the content of the message which I think made people uncomfortable. Here was a descendant of slaves speaking passionately about love in the symbol of fire among descendants of slave owners, using illustrations from slave narratives. Here is a very powerful and punchy articulation of Black Theology in exemplifying God’s love through redemptive history. But in addition, I also think Bishop Curry used the slave narrative possibly as a reminder of some of the racial injustices that black people still face today. He also quoted the Civil rights leader, Dr Martin Luther King, on several occasions, again possibly as a reminder that we commemorate his 50 years since he was murdered for the cause of racial justice. These are pointers to stir people’s conscience.

Bishop Curry’s message will be analysed for years to come by theologians, Bible scholars, social commentators, media, journalists, political editors and many more because it was historical, biblical, relevant, unique and bold. It is also a message relevant for the Church at a time when some aspect of the Church think we need to move away from sermons to conversations. Bishop Curry’s message reminds us the power of preaching and how inspiring and creative it can be if in the hands of the right vessel who is willing to be led by God’s Spirit to proclaim the Gospel and confront power with an uncomfortable truth.

I celebrate this message and how it has brought public debates and conversations about God and racial justice. This message comes on the back of the Windrush scandal and the youth violence plaguing the capital and other parts of the UK. All of these events cause me to reflect that God is bringing into the public consciousness issues that have been swept under the carpet. Now they have the public’s attention and can no longer be ignored.


Posted in African Church History and Theology, Black Majority Churches (BMCs), History, Media | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

New mobile app launched brings thousands of new resources to African congregations (Press Release!)


Agencies including Tearfund, Christian Aid, CPAS, Westminster Theology Centre, Lausanne Movement, A Rocha, Centre for Missionaries from the Majority World and many others are supporting a new mobile phone app that has been developed and launched by African Pastors Fellowship (APF) – putting a mobile library of theological resources into the hands of rural pastors across East Africa for the first time.  The ‘eVitabu’ app, which is installed on solar-powered Android devices will help support pastors’ ministries with large church networks across East Africa, potentially impacting the Christian journey of over half a million people.


The eVitabu app includes content provided by APF’s partner agencies, giving pastors access to studies on personal, spiritual and pastoral growth; audio Bibles in local languages; theology courses from internationally renowned centres; video lectures by top Christian leaders; community development toolkits; and guides on family healthcare, leadership, advocacy, peace-building, and sustainable agriculture. It also enables African pastors to upload and share their own theological insights with their peers.


It is estimated that over 3 million churches in the developing world are led by people with little or no qualifications for that responsibility. In Africa, it is estimated that as many as 90% of pastors have never received even a single day’s training. eVitabu, which means books in Swahili, is a pioneering tool designed specifically to support the African church.


Dave Stedman, CEO of APF commented: “eVitabu has the potential to enable thousands of rural church leaders to access great quality training material possibly for the very first time. We are grateful to our partners for their support in launching this initiative and helping us to provide quality content. Excitingly the app also provides a unique platform for the voice of the Africa church. African leaders can use eVitabu to upload and share their own material with other church leaders, so everyone benefits.”


APF launched the eVitabu app at a three-day training conference in Uganda where the durable Android Tablets were given to 57 pastors from eight East African countries including Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Malawi, South Sudan and DRC. These pastors can now browse and download the searchable library of content before going into remote parts of the continent to teach and support other pastors and congregations. New content can be accessed and downloaded almost anywhere using a mobile phone as a wifi hotspot.


One of the pastors who was provided with an eVitabu tablet is Heavenlight Luoga who oversees a network of 60 rural churches in North West Tanzania. Heavenlight explains how it will support his ministry: “I have found many good materials on eVitabu from different contributors. I have mobilised a core team of five teachers and we will meet each month to study together. My wife, Kesia, will also use eVitabu resources when training pastors’ wives in Burundi. eVitabu will improve our teaching and help us address issues in the church and community such as theological error, farming and entrepreneurship.”


The eVitabu app was developed by a small group of APF volunteers who donated hundreds of man-hours to deliver this resource to impact the African church.

Partners supporting the eVitabu project by providing content include: Andrew Kane Partnership Trust, Biblical Frameworks, BUILD Partners, Christian Aid, CPAS,

Eagles Wings Ministries, Centre for Missionaries from the Majority World, Next Leadership,

Paula Gooder, Reconxile, Renew Outreach, Regnum Books, Foundations for Farming, Lausanne Movement, Tearfund, Tierra Neuva, Westminster Theology Centre, A Rocha, and Climate Stewards.



For more information, or photographs of eVitabu please contact: Rachel Heald, PR consultant, 07985 424 084 /


About African Pastors Fellowship

The vision of African Pastors Fellowship (APF) is to enable African Christian leaders, of all denominations, to minister effectively in thriving local churches that serve flourishing communities. APF works with church partners from across Eastern, Central and Southern Regions of Africa.

APF does this by coming alongside influential leaders to help them fulfil their visions for leadership development and pastoral formation. There are three strands to APF’s work:

  • Pastoring of Pastors – building long-term partnerships with African church networks to help them reach their own leadership development objectives, supporting training workshops for rural pastors, helping church leaders access essential tools such as Bibles in local languages, bicycles and solar panels.
  • Flourishing Communities – equipping African church leaders to serve their communities and tackle poverty, inequality and environmental challenges e.g. promoting sustainable development by addressing food insecurity and climate change impacts so that the whole community benefits.
  • Hearing African Voices – everyone needs an opportunity for their voice to be heard. By listening to African friends sharing news of what God is doing in their churches and communities, we can all understand more and be encouraged. In an increasingly interconnected world, it is vitally important to know how the choices we make every day affect those living in other parts of the world.


For more information visit   Twitter: @AfricanPF

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