Africa has experienced over 100 violent changes of national leadership since 1952. This has included over 80 coups, revolutions and civil wars and 25 assassinations of national leaders. Every year since 1963 (except for 1988) has seen one or more violent overthrow of governments in Africa. Uganda has experienced 6 revolutions, while Sudan, Nigeria, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Benin have each had 5 military coup d’etats.
Aside from wars and revolutions there is one thing Africa has never lacked: paper constitutions. It is ironic that Britain - which has never had a written constitution - produced more than 500 for its colonial territories between 1920 and 1975. Most of these constitutions lasted only a few years, some a few months. Some never were applied at all. None of these constitutions survived to 1980.
When African nations received independence most thought that they were going to receive justice. And wealth. All they got, however, was the right to vote for politicians - and normally only once at that.
Africa has only 6 free-enterprise leaning multi-party democracies. There are however 48 one-party states or dictatorships. Why has democracy so catastrophically failed in Africa?
In the absence of the necessary economic freedom, cultural conditions and Christian foundations, one man - one vote inevitably leads to corruption, socialist confiscation, oppression, bloodshed and tyranny.
Freedom requires a Christian consensus, a culture of free debate, independent civic activity, universal literacy, a free press, a free market economy, an independent judiciary and a tradition of tolerating dissent.
The root cause of the social, economic and political crisis in Africa is the spiritual crisis. As Patrick Henry declared:
“Bad men cannot make good citizens. It is impossible that a nation of infidels or idolaters should be a nation of free men. It is when a people forget God that tyrants forge their chains. A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience are incompatible with freedom.” Peace and prosperity do not grow out of paganism.
The great Russian novelist, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, sounded the warning most eloquently when he stated: “The strength or weakness of a society depends more on the level of its spiritual life than on its level of industrialisation. Neither a market economy nor even general abundance constitutes the crowning achievement of human life. If a nation’s spiritual energies have been exhausted, it will not be saved from collapse by the most perfect government structure or by any industrial development. A tree with a rotten core cannot stand.”
The foundations for a free society are laid in characters, minds and lives changed by the Grace of God. In order to be successful, a society needs to be made up of honest citizens who will not steal, diligent people who are hard working and productive, compassionate families who are concerned for their neighbours, and responsible workers who will fulfil their obligations and be faithful stewards of public resources. For nations to be strong their families need to be strong. For governments to be good the churches need to be faithful.
Along with the wars, famines and epidemic diseases, Africa is now also facing other threats. Drugs and previously illegal pornography are flooding into many parts of Africa and there are renewed pressures to legalise abortion. If one only focused on the seemingly endless tide of tragic and traumatic reports one would be tempted to despair. Yet there is another side to the situation.
Africa is a continent in conflict. The forces of Islam, communism and witchcraft are engaged in a life and death struggle against the church of Christ. At stake is the soul of a continent. And the Church of Christ is growing in numbers and influence. At the beginning of the century there were 10 million Christians in Africa (including the 3 million Orthodox believers in Ethiopia) out of a total population of 108 million people. By 1994 this had grown to 290 million out of a total population of 650 million. Every year the church in Africa increases with a net gain of over 6 million new members.
Admittedly these statistics can be misleading because much of the impressive church growth in Africa represents numbers only. Nominalism and syncretism is prevalent. In many churches, most of the members are still bound by witchcraft. The peer pressure, family intimidation and social compulsion have persuaded most church members to quietly give in and mix pagan fetishes, ancestor worship, and occultic practises with Christianity. This presents a clear challenge for Bible teaching and the preaching of an uncompromising message of repentance.
It is for this reason that Frontline Fellowship is dedicated to working for Biblical reformation and praying for spiritual revival in Africa. Each year Frontline Fellowship missionaries conduct 70 - 80 leadership training courses such as the Discipleship Training Course, Reformation and Revival Seminar and the Bibilcal Worldview Seminar.
Through literature and leadership training courses, Frontline Fellowship is reaching and teaching literally thousands of pastors, elders and evangelists every year. We believe that Africa is ripe for revival and reformation. No other continent offers so many challenges and opportunities as Africa.
“Make disciples of all nations.., teaching them to obey everjthing I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:19-20
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Frontline Fellowship USA
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