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Saturday, 2 January 2010


Christianity seems to have long lost its appeal amongst the British. And yet it is they that dedicated centuries towards spreading the Gospel around the world.

During a concert by Status Quo at the Wembley Arena in mid-December 2009, thousands paid more than 30 pounds, (Ksh 3,500) each and braved the chilly weather to dance to the legendary rock band tunes. The audience was overwhelmingly white.

Fast forward to 31st December, New Year's Eve. Same venue and this time the entry is free. The gathering is organized by Jesus House and the turnout is about half compared to Status Quo. The audience this time is overwhelmingly black, mostly with ties to Nigeria.

What gives? Were there no whites interested in counting down the New Year in a religious or spiritual backdrop? Or was the London Eye type of celebration their ideal festivity?

The Great Gospel Denial

As a matter of fact, Eddie Izzard earlier had had comedy shows at the Wembley Arena on three consecutive days in December, and still managed to pull in the crowds.

Nothing unusual there but when you consider the central theme of these performances was a very direct denial of the existence of God by the self-confessed atheist entertainer, you begin to see the big picture.

Somebody needs to explain what motivated the progenitors of the current generation of UK citizens to fervently spread the Good Word globally, which now appears to have lost its favour and flavour among the British.

Was it the fact that Europe was already converted that motivated the early missionaries to seek other territories and civilizations to preach to?

Or was theirs an elaborate conspiracy, as often has been stated, to cover the tentacles of colonialism as they ensnared new converts?

Re-importing an exported Gospel

A colleague did bring to my attention another perspective. According to him, Africans are still generally struggling with basic survival challenges like food, shelter, diseases or even literacy.

And these issues, he correctly argues, feature prominently in their worship and prayers.

The question then becomes, would a white person, born into all the trappings and conveniences of life in the First world, find any relevance in such a spiritual focus on physical needs?

It does appear a tad unusual, when an African preacher energetically seeks Christian converts in a land that originally took the Gospel to Africa.

And in Africa, the Gospel is still brewing a storm. Just ask Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade.

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