Once upon a time — and it was the beginning of all
eternity — God our Creator and Source began the work of creation. God’s Spirit
went to every part of creation — the galaxies, the stars, the planets — to
establish the Reign of God. The Seeds of God were planted everywhere. The
Unsurpassed Great Spirit scattered seeds of love and peace and truth and hope
far and wide over the whole universe.
The Spirit of the Creator God sowed Seeds of God
throughout the planet Earth. These seeds were planted in the hearts of all
people, all cultures, all religions, in all kinds of earthly soil. Seeds of the
Word of God penetrated all the great religions of the world. Some of God’s Seeds
were planted in African Traditional Religion. Amidst the great diversity of
peoples and cultures and religious traditions there are many dwelling places in
God’s house. At a certain point of time almost 2,000 years ago in the silent
watches of the night God’s Eternal Word leaped down from heaven to earth. We
call this Eternal Word Emmanuel — God here with us. Jesus Christ’s Good News of
Salvation went to every corner of the earth starting in the Middle East and then
going to the Mediterranean world and on to northern Africa and throughout
Europe. Jesus Christ’s followers planted the Seeds of the Gospel in the hearts
of all people everywhere on earth. In time these Seeds of the Gospel reached
North America, South America, Asia, the Pacific and other parts of Africa. The
response of each person was different and can be compared to planting seeds on
the path, on rocky ground, among thorns and in good soil.
The continent of Africa has its own special story. The Sower went out to sow the
seed in Africa. The Sower is Jesus Christ. The seed is the Word/the Gospel/the
Good News of Salvation. The soil is the hearts of the African people and African
cultures. The ground in which the Gospel is planted is holy ground. The Seed of
God is at home in African soil. Before the first expatriate missionaries arrived
in Africa with the explicit proclamation of the Gospel, the Supreme Being had
already visited the people whom the High God knows and loves. African religious
heritage and culture have always been a privileged place of God’s revelation.
The proverbs, sayings, stories and myths of the African people show that the
Holy Spirit sowed the Seeds of the Good News in African cultures long before the
African people ever heard Jesus’ words and teaching. Yet many of these seeds
remained hidden in the ground, a treasure yet to be fully revealed.
Jesus Christ is also the seed itself. He is the grain of
corn which has fallen into Africa’s soil and brings forth a hundredfold. All
life has changed because Jesus, the green corn shoot, as died and is risen.
Jesus is also like a tree. He has penetrated the African soil and transformed it
into his own body. Like the tree of the ancestors’ spirits he links up the earth
with the sky, the living with the Great Spirit and the intermediaries, the
ancestors. Africans call Jesus the Chief Diviner-Healer, Eldest
Brother-Intercessor, Protective Hero and Victor Over Death.
Many Africans are farmers who know the cycle of nature
very well. God is a deep part of their holistic religious experience. Some
African names for God are Sun, Rain and Great Rainbow. African farmers are
patient and persevering. They know and feel the rhythm of farming. An African
proverb says A slow rain bears the most fruit. At a certain point weeding is
necessary. Christ himself is the weeder. He also speaks to us through our
consciences and through reading the signs of the times.
Missionaries came from the lands of Europe and North
America to proclaim the Good News of Salvation. Beautiful upon the mountains of
Africa — Kilmanjaro, Ras Dashan, Meru, Elgon and Toubkal — are the feet of the
messengers who announce peace, bring good news and proclaim salvation. They
toiled long and hard to plant the seed everywhere on the continent of Africa.
They watered the soil and helped the young flowers and plants to grow. Other
missionaries came to help in the first harvests. In many places Christianity
flourished. The number of African Christians grew and multiplied. African prayer
traditions have flowered. Now there is new reverence and respect for earthing
the Gospel in local African customs and traditions, for rooting the faith in
local African cultures. The process of inculturating the Christian faith has
matured and is bringing forth rich fruit.
Throughout Africa there is widespread belief in one
Supreme God. The Holy Spirit is active in different religions. In many places in
Africa the one High God speaks through Allah and the world religion of Islam.
There is new respect for African Traditional Religion. African Independent
Churches are flourishing.
Today the Christians of the local churches in Africa are
missionaries to themselves. They are rooting the Christian faith in their own
diverse African cultures. As the Seeds of the Gospel are sown in African soil,
the roots are growing deeper and deeper. Now Africa must grow its own fruits.
Now Africans themselves are responsible for the harvests. The time has come for
Gospel Seeds to be recognized and cultivated and to germinate and bring forth
flowers the world has not yet seen before. In some places this means planting
the Gospel Seed in African culture and letting it grow wild — in freedom, but
with careful attention. Indeed new flowers are growing in African soil. African
flowers are blooming in liturgy, music and art. New spiritual traditions are
evolving. New African images and symbols of Jesus have emerged.
Gradually the Church in Africa is bringing to full
maturity Seeds of the Word and taking its place alongside its sister and brother
local churches around the world. Africans are also becoming missionaries to
others. Rich African fruits are now part of the World Church.
The Seed of God continues to be sown among all peoples,
all cultures, all times. The Eternal Word continues to go forth.