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‘Why am I poor?’

‘Why aren’t I being blessed?’

‘Why don’t the promises of the prosperity gospel preacher come true for me?’

These are the kind of questions Ian Flanders is asked by African Christians. Ian broadcasts his GBM Radio programme, Esperance Aujourd’hui, to the French-speaking world, and finds such comments are a common theme among those he reaches. God’s blessing is seen as being particularly in material terms, with the focus on health, money and children. Why is that the case? One reason is the way that African Traditional Religion has crossed over into some elements of African Christianity, so that where the Prosperity Gospel takes hold, it is because it mimics the expectations of people’s traditional religious beliefs.

Reflecting on this during sabbatical leave, Ian produced a paper which has now been published by GBM as The Gospel in African Soil. Whenever we take the Christian faith into a new context, we need to understand the cultural and religious influences on the hearts and minds of those we reach.  Europe and Africa have been brought closer by the ease of international travel and yet in many ways remain worlds apart.  The Gospel in African Soil gives an overview of African Traditional Religion and seeks to understand the various ways in which Christian mission has interacted with this belief system over the past two centuries.  It evaluates some contemporary Christian movements, particularly the Prosperity Gospel, and how they may be influenced by traditional African culture. It also reflects on some potential ways to better communicate the gospel into this context. Ian also poses us in the West with the challenge of depending on God in every aspect of everyday life

Copies available from GBM Mission Centre, price £2 plus £0.50 p&p, or ask in your local Christian bookshop.