What is Missio Africanus?
Missio Africanus is the flagship project of a larger cross-cultural missions initiative being carried out by the Missional Innovations Inc. in London, UK. It is a missions training project that helps missionaries and Christian leaders from around the world to understand and overcome the cultural barriers they encounter in their work in the West.
The term Missio Africanus comes from a loose translation of the Latin words Missio which means “sending” and Africanus meaning “African”. And thus, Missio Africanus is about the “sending of the Africans” as missionaries around the world in the larger global context of the mission of God, or Missio Dei.
Our purpose is to mediate the unleashing of Africa’s missionary potential in the world. At the core, we understand Missio Africanus to be about maximising the effectual impact of the African missionary movement, both in Africa and in the African Diaspora. We focus on training and equipping Christian leaders (African and otherwise) for effective cross-cultural partnerships. We also dedicate a great deal of our time and resources to researching and documenting the unfolding story of the rising African missionary presence in the world.
Why Missio Africanus?
We believe that Missio Africanus is important for, at least, the following four reasons:
1. We help foreign Christians in the West find ways to be effective cross-cultural missionaries in the Western cities that have become their homes and mission fields. Indeed, non-Western missionaries must reach locals Westerners with the gospel. This is quite critical because:
- so far, immigrant Christians have only been successful in reaching fellow immigrants (usually those from same countries and/or tribes)
- the general Western population is becoming increasingly culturally diversified.
Unfortunately, the majority of these non-Western Christians have zero contextual understanding of how to be missionaries and make missional connections with Westerners. Missio Africanus comes in to build interpretive cross-cultural bridges between non-Western missionaries and the Western mission field.
2. Missio Africanus helps resolve the chasms that exist between different ethnic and cultural expressions of Christianity–divisions that only make mission in the West difficult. This new multi-ethnic West needs a united multi-ethnic missionary movement. Unfortunately, African Christians are mostly locked up in African immigrant churches. And, naturally, from these church enclaves, they find it very difficult to reach their non-African neighbours with the gospel. External social factors like racism and classism make it even harder for them to connect with white Western Christians.
3. Most of the cross-cultural missions training programs that are currently available in the West are written by Westerners for other Westerners. They often lack the critical distance that would allow the Westerners to see their own cultures like a stranger would, and thus, they are often not very helpful to immigrant missionaries in the West. They also usually lack a proper understanding of who these immigrant Christians are and what they bring with them. Consequently, it is necessary to have a conversation that is guided by non-Westerners trying to do a contemporary missiology for the West.
4. A majority of Africa’s immigrant churches in the West have reached a generational threshold where children who have grown up in the West are exploring their cultural identities around church. Most of these second generation immigrants are not culturally African and are finding it hard to continue in their parents’ ways of doing church.