Gabriel's Oboe and the Growth of "Sects" in Africa Print
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 23 March 2009 08:42
John Allen's articles on the Pope's visit to Africa referred to concerns about the impact of "sects".

It is interesting in light of that concern, that the African Assemblies of God has announced that it has set a goal of baptizing 10 million "new believers" during the next decade.

"AG African leaders committed themselves to the “Decade of Pentecost” at an AAGA meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, earlier this month that occurs once every four years.

Spearheading initiatives for the Decade of Pentecost will be Acts in Africa, a ministry aimed at encouraging Pentecostal revival in the Assemblies of God in Africa.

During the Decade of Pentecost, which will begin in 2010 and continue through 2020, national Assemblies of God churches will mobilize for global missions with the vision of reaching “yet-to-be-reached” peoples in Africa and the world with the Gospel, according to AG News.

AAGA’s strategies for achieving its goal include an annual Pentecost Day when about 48,000 AG pastors will be challenged to preach on the “baptism in the Holy Spirit and the mission of God,” and pray with believers to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

There are about 16 million AG members meeting in more than 50,000 churches in 50 countries in sub-Sahara Africa and the Indian Ocean Basin, according to the denomination. In 1990, there were only 2.1 million constituents and 12,000 churches.

The Assemblies of God is the world’s largest Pentecostal denomination with somewhere between 57 to 60 million adherents.

Three decades ago, the combined total of Pentecostals and Charismatics was less than 5 percent, now they make up some 17 percent of Africa’s population, or about 147 million people, according to a 2006 Pew Forum study that highlighted the dramatic growth of the movement within half a century."

This highlights the significance of the fact that the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization will be taking place in Capetown in 2010. The first two Lausanne Congresses (1974, 1989) were huge catalysts for the global evangelical missionary movement.

These gatherings are the ecumenical councils of the evangelical world. 4000+ top evangelical leaders from 200 countries, representing thousands of different denominations, movements, networks, and organizations. Men, women, pastors, theologians, evangelists, missionaries, artists, businesspeople, all coming together to discuss, debate, share, pray, worship, network about the mission to bring Christ to the world.

Would that there were such gatherings on such a scale - devoted entirely and serious to practical evangelization - in the Catholic world. Would that there was some Catholic representation or witnesses at this upcoming Lausanne gathering. There has been an Orthodox presence before but no Catholics. We worry and write and discuss our concerns about evangelical/Pentecostal missionaries in Latin America, in Africa, in Asia. But we so seldom seriously engage them directly.

Evangelicals learn from us readily and without embarrassment. They read our history, study our saints and missionaries, and readily learn from and copy our successes. And no wonder, since there was almost no Protestant missionary efforts before 1800. The history of Christian missions for the first 1800 years of the Church's life was mostly Catholic history (the Orthodox were engaged in missions as well).

Evangelicals loved the movie "The MIssion" which portrays the efforts of 18th Jesuit missionaries in Latin America. They identified with the struggles of those priests, They found inexpressibly moving the scene where Fr. Gabriel first meets the Gaurani and wins their trust through the music of his oboe.