African Power Influences American Churches

Over the last century, Christians in Nigeria have swelled from a tiny minority to nearly half the population of the West African nation.

Published 27 March 2006
|TOP|Over the last century, Christians in Nigeria have swelled from a tiny minority to nearly half the population of the West African nation. Founded in Lagos, Nigeria, the Redeemed Christian Church of God is now stretching out to America - at a very fast rate.

The founders of the church are Nigerians who were evangelised by American missionaries.

According to Jacob Olupona, a professor at the University of California, Davis - who compiles data on African congregations in this country - the Redeemed Church is part of a boom in African churches establishing American outposts. "Anyone who writes about Christianity in America in the 21st century," Olupona said, "will have to write about African churches."

From Chicago and Atlanta, to Washington and New York, the church has opened more than 200 parishes in just over a decade, and is training Americans of all races to help them reach beyond the African immigrant community. One of their largest congregations, Victory Temple in Bowie, Maryland, claims 2,000 members. |AD|

To further accelerate the spreading mission, a satellite TV network named Dove Media was launched in December, which broadcasts sermons from the church's world leader, Pastor Enoch Adeboye. The aim of the TV network is to attract viewers throughout the continent who would not normally watch Christian TV.

"We didn't bring this church to the United States to be another Nigerian church," said Ajibike Akinkoye, chief executive of Dove Media, in an interview in his Irving office. "We are afraid with the way things are going in the world and in America — allowing people to do what they like, creating their own religion and philosophy — those people are going to pay for it. We don't want that to happen."

In the midst of America’s ever-expanding mega churches, influential evangelists and deep religiosity, Christianity in America has become a lifestyle rather than a transforming way of life, according to the Redeemed Church.

The rising church hopes to rescue the people who brought them the faith in the first place.

"There is a vibrancy in Africa," Akinkoye said. "We are offering that gift back to America."

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