Christianity in Africa

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Christianity in Africa has ancient roots going back nearly twenty centuries. In the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 8:26-40), it is documented that a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch, of great authority under Queen Candace of Ethiopia, was converted to the Lord by St. Philip the Apostle and baptized.

In the Bible

Acts 8:36-38 describes the incident: "As they traveled, they reached a body of water. The Eunuch said, "Here's some water. Why can't I be baptized here? Philip replied, "If you believe with your whole heart, you can!" He answered, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. He halted the chariot and they went over to the water, and Philip baptized him." (Conservapedia Bible).

In Early History

The Church Father St. Irenaeus said of this man: "This man was also sent into the regions of Ethiopia, to preach what he had himself believed, that there was one God preached by the prophets, but that the Son of God had already made His appearance in human nature (secundum hominem), and had been led as a sheep to the slaughter; and all the other statements which the prophets made regarding Him." [1] St. Matthew the Apostle is also said to have preached to the Ethiopians.

Many of the Church Fathers of the first few Christian centuries were thus from Africa. This includes Origen, Tertullian, St. Clement of Alexandria, St. Cyprian, St. Athanasius, St. Augustine etc. After the rise of Islamism, Africa would fall to the new religion of Mohammed.

In Recent Times

New data from the Gordon Theological Seminary shows that, for the first time ever, more number of Christians live in Africa than on any other single continent.[2]

"The results show Africa on top with 631 million Christian residents, Latin America in 2nd place with 601 million Christians, and Europe in 3rd place with 571 million Christians."[3]

The statistics from the World Christian Encyclopedia (David Barrett) illustrate the emerging trend of dramatic Christian growth on the continent and supposes, that in 2025 there will be 633 million Christians in Africa.[4]

Catholic Church in Africa

Philip Jenkins reported in the Catholic Herald: "In 1900, the whole of Africa had just a couple of million Catholics, but that number grew to 130 million by the end of the century, and today it approaches 200 million. If current trends continue, as they show every sign of doing, then by the 2040s there will be some 460 million African Catholics. Incredibly, that number would be greater than the total world population of Catholics as it stood in 1950."[5]

By 2025, one-sixth (230 million) of the world's Catholics are expected to be Africans.[6][7]

Accordingly, the latest available figures for 2020 show that 640 Million Africans are now Christians, reaching and surpassing the earlier estimate for 2025. [8] As of 2020, Catholics worldwide were 1.33 billion. [9] Similarly, the projections for Catholics have been exceeded, with 234 African Catholics, for the year ended 31 December 2017. [10]

The way that things are going on the African prospects, there are good prospects of there being over a billion African Christians in 20 years.

See also


  1. Adversus Haereses 3:12:8,
  2. Johnson, Todd M.; Zurlo, Gina A.; Hickman, Albert W.; Crossing, Peter F. (November 2017). "Christianity 2018: More African Christians and Counting Martyrs". International Bulletin of Mission Research 42 (1): 20–28. doi:10.1177/2396939317739833. 
  3. Africa overtakes Latin America for the highest Christian population (en) (24 July 2018).
  4. World Council of Churches Report, August 2004
  5. Jenkins, Philip, Catholicism's Incredible Growth Story. 8 Sept 2016.
  6. David Barrett, International Bulletin of Missionary Research, Vol. 30, No 1, January 2006, 29.
  7. Donadio, Rachel. "On Africa Trip, Pope Will Find Place Where Church Is Surging Amid Travail", The New York Times, 2009-03-15. (en-US)