History has shown that the gospel has spread and has been so doing all over the earth for  decades, over 40 years in what is known as world evangelization. In connection with world evangelization, the Bible made reference to ‘all nations, tribes, peoples, and languagesʼ.

Evangelization and education may be termed ‘twin sisters’ in the effects they proffer on each other. When scholars talk of social change, education is one of the factors that readily comes to mind. Similarly, education also affects the process of evangelization.

            Nduka, (1964) said

“Of all the agents of imperialism it was the missionary who made the most revolutionary demands of the Nigerians. He did not want the wealth from the Nigerian soil, nor the fruits of her forests, nor any portion of her soil. He desired instead the conquest of Nigerian souls” (10).

This looks like a paradox but was that not the fact? Many African nations, Nigeria in particular, have the background of idolatry. Before the coming of the missionaries who introduced formal education to us, we served various gods such as the god of thunder known as ‘Sango’, god of iron known as ‘Ogun’, the wife of ‘Ogun’  known as ‘Oya’ and a host of other deities. Many people still have this kind of background to the extent that till date some people still combine the worship of such gods with the God of Christians. Some still give names to their young ones after these gods. That is why it is common to hear such things as ‘Igbagbo o wipe ki a ma se oro’ 

           Which is interpreted to mean, `Christianity does not debar us from participating in idol worshipʼ. The missionaries really demanded the souls of Nigerians and almost to the extinction of any thing called culture just to ensure they were converted to the core.

However, as formal education has great impact on  social change so also it contributes greatly to the process of evangelization in the world, in Africa and in Nigeria as a nation. In another vein, evangelization affects education and education affects evangelization.

The focus of this work is to examine the contributions of formal education to the process of evangelization in the World at large, in Africa and in Nigeria in particular. However, for a better connection, it shall be relevant to examine the history of the growth of evangelicals, of notable pioneers of evangelization, the challenges that faced evangelization in the last few decades and how education has contributed to solving some of these problems.

For a good understanding of this work, some terms will be defined; such terms include formal education, process, and evangelization.

            Definition of Terms

            Formal Education

Formal education has been defined as “any education provided by a recognized institution teaching courses — or even at home, following a planned course of study. It means education obtained through an accredited source such as high school or university/college, as opposed to on the job training or street smarts provided by the “school of hard knocks,” (

Formal education is classroom-based, provided by trained teachers (

Formal education as used in this work means education obtained through accredited sources, provided by trained teachers in classroom setting up to secondary or University level.


In his attempt to define the word evangelism, Adekola quoting Archbishop William Temple said to, “evangelize is to present Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit in a way that men  put their faith in God through him, accepting him as their Saviour and to serve Him as their king in the fellowship of his Church” (2001,3).

This definition implies that for any effort to be termed evangelism, Jesus Christ must be presented, with the Holy Spirit’s enabling, making it meaningful to the extent that men who hear it put their trust in God through Jesus Christ and accept him as their Saviour with the purpose to serve Jesus in the fellowship of the Church.

Defining evangelization from the distinctions between the word Missions and mission- “Missions is the plan of committed believers to carry out the mission of God” (Slot 2000, 9). This means believers practically implement the mission of God through missions. So defining evangelization from different part of Africa, “the term mission(s) has come to mean evangelization whereby national population is only a recipient.

However, the need for African Churches to become a sending Church rather than a receiving one has become imperative; and that is why the shift to “World evangelization rather than world mission” (9). Unlike the first definition, this one has added the connotation of being a sending church as imperative for African Churches. In other words, the African Church must be outward looking in terms of their contribution to the world evangelization.

Evangelization comes from the word evangelize.

It means to convert or seek to convert (someone) to Christianity. It also means to bring to God/Christ/Jesus, bring into the fold, redeem, save, make someone change their beliefs/mind, make someone see the light, spread the gospel/faith/word ( Assessed 06-11-13


           In addition to the above definition, evangelization involves taking the gospel across frontiers of nations in cross cultural settings.  World Evangelization (W.E), according to Slot (2000), has been God’s idea from the beginning (10). This came forth while God was speaking his mind about blessing Abraham. He had people all over the earth in mind (Gen12:1-3). God promised Abraham that he will bless all the people of the world through him. Further, Stott made it known that this implies all nations, tribes, peoples and languages as those  stood before God’s throne in Rev.7:9

Therefore for this work, evangelization will mean all missionary efforts of the Church to take the good news of Jesus’ saving grace to people of all the earth, irrespective of tribe, colour, sex or any barrier, to make them come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, to serve and encourage others to serve within the body of Christ-the Church.

           History of Formal Education and Church Evangelism.

William Boyd wrote in Fafunwa,(1974) …It must be kept in mind that the Church undertook the business of education not because it regarded education as good in itself, but because it found that it could not do its own proper work without giving its adherents, especially its clergy, as much of the formal learning as was required for the study of the sacred writings and for the performance of their religious duties (70).

The implication of Boyd’s assertion was that the Church simply used     education as a tool for achieving its evangelical obligations. A yoruba adage says, “bi a ko ba t’ori epo j’esu, a le tori isu je’po” that means literarily “if you don’t eat yam for the sake of the oil, you can lick oil for the sake of the yam”. This is to say that whether for the sake of education or the sake of evangelization, the business of education was spearheaded by the Church.

Fafunwa  made it known that the history of Western-oriented cum Christian education in Nigeria was guaranteed by the history of Western education in Europe during and after dark ages, and with the fall of Roman empire in the fifth century, their literary and rhetorical education was almost destroyed because it was termed ‘pagan in spirit’.

 However, the Church had to pick up its bits and pieces after it discovered it could not do its work of evangelism effectively without it (70). An overview of the history of world evangelization as Krupp does it while quoting Kane & Latourette revealed the following notable periods of world evangelization:

First wave: Evangelizing the Roman empire-AD 30-500

Second wave: Evangelizing Northern Europe and central Asia- AD 500-1300

Loss to Islam-AD 600-1200

Third wave: Roman Catholic missions to the whole world-AD 1300-1700

Fourth wave: Protestant Missions to the whole world- AD 1700-present

Moravians (Count Von Zinzendorf)-1730-1770

Modern Missions Movement (William Carey)-1790-1830

Moving (from the coastlands) to the inland-1850-1900

More fuel added to the fire-1875-1960

Last wave: Period 1950-present: The whole church, from the whole world, with the whole Gospel for the whole man, to every person. There are variations from different authors.

 From the above there are connections between world evangelization, and evangelization of African continent as well as that of Nigeria. The common link is the impact of formal education as it shall be seen when the contributions of education are discussed. Therefore the contributions of formal education to the process of evangelization will be generally discussed.

Before going to discuss the contribution of formal education, it will be reasonable to look at evangelical growth since 1960; how steady has evangelization been, and at what rate compared to the world population growth?

        Evangelical Growth since 1960.

           The Bible made it clear that the early Church experienced growth as they fellowshipped together and broke bread from house to house. However, Buconyori noted that as the church was spreading, people of various social levels responded to the gospel. Implications of the gospel raised important concerns which could only be addressed through education of the people in their preaching (1993, 40)

            It has been discovered that for the past 40 years, there has been a decline in growth in traditional mainline Churches, whereas the Charismatic evangelicals and those of Pentecostal persuasions are growing significantly both in number and in conversions. According to Slots, (2000) “Although Evangelicals in the West have grown steadily; their growth was slow, compared with their brother denominations in Latin America, Africa and Asia” (35). He further revealed that the world population growth rate is 1.7% while protestant growth rate is 2.9% which was majorly due to Evangelical growth, because non-Protestantism is in serious decline. Roman Catholics grow slower than the world population and it is also declining. Therefore “The star of the Christian growth-firmament is Evangelical Christianity which grows 3 times as fast as the world population (about 5%), by means of conversion.”(Slot, 35-36).

Brief of Some Pioneers of Evangelization.

          Looking back over a period of 225 years, it might be good to have a brief outline of the life and ministry of some major pioneers. These are;

Count Nicolaus Zinzendorf (1700-1760). He was a protestant missionary of the first half of 18th century. He and a group of Christians who were persecuted and fled Moravia founded the Moravian Church. He was a godly leader; he started an important mission thrust centred on prayer after he had experienced a Holy Spirit renewal in 1727. They had a prayer chain of 7 days a week for 100years without break.

William Carey (1761-1834). Carey was called ‘the father of modern missions’ After all his trials failed in convincing the Church of his days on the necessity of world evangelization, he put down his conviction on 87 pages, this becomes the first missions handbook. The book later brought about the establishment of “12 significant mission organizations in Europe and the United State” (Slot, 27-28). He went to India as a missionary in 1793; he translated the Bible into Bengali, Sanskrit, and Maraki. His first 7 years in India had no convert but another 18 years produced 600 Baptised believers.

            Hudson Tailor (1832-1905).

               He was the pioneer interdenominational missions into the heartland. He said “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God” He did that by going to China in 1853, he established China Inland Mission (C.I.M) in 1865, with headquarters in China. Tailor became a ‘Chinese to the Chinese’ and by 1882, every province had the C.I.M, and it has become the world largest mission organization by 1914.  Other important names in Africa include David Livingstone, Henry Stanley

           C.T. Studd (1860-1931. Charles Studd, was a British cricket player who gave off his fortune to become a missionary with C.I.M. in 1885After ministering with C.I.M, and in china, he became missionary to the heart of Africa (1913-1931). He established world- wide evangelistic crusade (WEC) known now as World -wide evangelization for Christ with the aim to reach the remaining unreached peoples of the earth soonest.

Cameron Townsend (1896-1982). He had vision for Bible translation work because of the challenge he received from an Indian. He wanted to sell a Spanish Bible to this Indian but retorted and told him “If your God is so great, why hasn’t He learned our language? (Slot, 29).He established the Wycliffe Bible Translators (WBT), Summer Institute of Linguistics (S.I.L),Jungle Aviation and Radio Services (JAARS) ministries. WBT/SIL has over 7,000 workers. His slogan is “The greatest missionary is the Bible in the mother tongue. It never needs furlough, and is never considered a foreigner”(29)

     D.L. Moody and 19th-Century Mass Evangelism

  Moody was born in 1837 in Northfield. He lost his father at age 4, he and his seven siblings were raised by their poor mother. He grew up in Massachusetts village; he obtained little more than a grade school education. He was baptised by his mother into the Unitarian church.  In 1854, at age 17, Moody left home for Boston, where he placed his faith in Christ and became a Church member a year after he was denied of membership by the elders of the Church. “In 1856, Moody moved to Chicago to pursue his fame and fortune there he became an instant success… By age 23 he had amassed $8,000 ($800,000 in today’s currency). He was earning the equivalent of $500,000 per year” (

In 1860, Moody gave up his business ambitions and become a full-time children’s evangelist for the YMCA. He was not a fluent speaker in his early years. He began a Sunday school in Chicago to reach poor children from the slum. He did this zealously and his work quickly grew to 800 weekly attendees, he formed a church to meet their need when the teens grew up to adulthood. He occupied himself with this during the 1860s

 Uniqueness of Moody- He had only equivalent of Grade II education, he preached to millions; he was not ordained and he had no denomination rather he used his neutral stand to build bridges. His theology was captioned in three Rs: Ruined by sin, Redeemed by the blood, and Regenerated by the Holy Spirit; he made  Bible schools popular in contrast to seminaries, de-emphasize church history, the formal study of theology, and the study of the original languages. The result is an emphasis on “me and my Bible.”( 20-10-13

      After his trip to England, Moody had Baptism in the Holy Spirit; His work was attended by such great power that some called it a “third Great Awakening?” For the next quarter of a century in English-speaking world, his preaching touched 100 million people, he founded colleges and schools, and he had a remarkable “imprint on 19th-century Evangelicalism”.  He lived a remarkable life such that though he had no “education, he founded three schools”. (

           The Contribution of Formal Education to the Process of Evangelization

     From the on-going discussion, a deduction can be made to bring up the contribution of formal education to the process of evangelization and vice -versa. Some others would be deduced from the problem facing evangelization and how education comes in to give some relief or solutions to such problems. As had been discussed earlier, the aim of the missionaries at various times in the process of evangelization was to spread the gospel to people from coastland to hinterland. However, to make communication possible, the missionaries saw the need to educate their recipients.

            Formal Education as Solution to Obstacles Facing World Evangelization

   The contribution of formal education to world evangelization would be discussed as it relates to solving the problems or obstacles of world evangelization. Some identified obstacles are: Communication, Culture, and Non-Christian religions and philosophies.


 In this area, no meaningful interaction can take place until a sender is able to communicate with the one evangelizing. In this, the best solution comes from formal or informal education, as long as it will upgrade understanding and communication. According to Slot,   Communicating well, “… is not only a gift, it is an art. Communication is easier to the degree that language, cultural background, level of training, and religion are shared”( 2000,49). The implication of this is that your ability to communicate is as good as the language, cultural background, training and religion shared between you and the one passing a message to you.


          The influence of formal education on culture cannot be over emphasized. Culture serves as a barrier to evangelizing many of the people within the 10/40 window that are the Muslim world within the above stated latitude /longitude. As it has been very difficult evangelizing these people, many that are exposed to formal education have changed perspectives and quite many have come to faith through interaction in the setting of formal education. On this, Ayodele quoting Ivorgba said:

“Christian education’s influence on culture has been mainly to demystify issues and eliminate prevailing ignorance that persisted as a result of superstitious beliefs among the people. Ideas, beliefs and customs shared by people were shaken and faulted by the White man’s reasoning and scientific facts with often seemingly magical and miraculous demonstrations. For instance, twins were being killed in certain places in Nigeria because they were seen as bad omen and brought disaster on a community. The intervention of Christian Missionaries showed these beliefs to be false over time.” (Ayodele, 2012, power point presentation).

              History made it clear that those days of the missionaries the twins and their mothers that were rescued automatically embrace the gospel and the enlightenment brought to bear on the people set them free from myths and unfounded beliefs that put them into bondage, therefore the formal education of the people opened their eys and understanding and the gospel made progress. Similarly, demystifying the beliefs associated with sicknesses, illness by scientific knowledge, hygiene and medicine yielded results of addressing the prevailing ideas and thus people became more open to the gospel. They had no reason to hold on to ideas and beliefs that never give them opportunity to live.

The Non-Christian religions and philosophies

            There are non-Christian religions such as the traditional or the indigenous beliefs, different world philosophies that challenge or are antagonistic to Christian religion all over the world including the nearest village to this town of Ogbomoso. The contribution of formal education in this area is tremendous in that the human heart has to be dealt with which education takes care of; formal education enlightens the whole man and feeds the soul to make right decisions without been coarse. Deceptions and force would work effectively on illiterates because they do not know. But for educated minds, decisions are majorly made on reasoning and conviction.

Formal education also has tremendous influence on the lives of the people directly involved. That is, though some may achieve a great extent in evangelism frontiers but in the long run, may reveal some set back. For example, Moody was considered a great frontier breaker in world evangelization though he had little education, but this comment was made about him:

 His lack of education, however, hindered him. Most of his life, he struggled to spell properly, use correct punctuation, and speak with proper grammar.  An old saying goes: “There are no great men who are not great

   readers.” (

   Assessed 20-10-2013

D.L.Moody proved to be one of the rare exceptions to the rule, yet the limitation and the struggles in expression must have its toll on some breakthrough that would have attended his ministry one way or the other.

Bible Translations

          The work of the missionaries in translating the Bible into many languages was and is still enhanced through formal education. Odesola quoting Sanney said “Well over three thousand of the world’s languages are embraced by Christianity through Bible translations, prayer, liturgy, hymns and literature. More than 90% of these languages have a grammar and missionary movements provided them” (Odesola, 2013, 3). Directly or indirectly, Bible translation helped in the process of evangelism in many areas. First, the missionaries’ limitations were reduced in getting the message across to the people. Many nations and people have been readily reached through giving of Bibles in their mother tongue. There are other contributions of education to the process of evangelization and the effects of missions on education. These are contribution of the educative schools of the Salesian.

Social Activities Targeting the Young by Catholic Religious Institute- Salesian

Salesian of Don Bosco “is a Roman Catholic religious Institute developed by the Salesians upon the pedagogical experience of Saint John Bosco. This is targeting poor youngsters in 19th century. It is based on three pillars: reason, religion and loving-kindness” ( The Salesian form themselves into a society that undertakes various social works of charity. They use mission and education to promote education on one hand and mission on the other through the following avenues.

A presence to the Tertiary sector

Here the salesians extend their services to the higher institutions, providing hostels, and university residences. By this Catholic mission, work is extended to the students that reside in such hostels and residences.

          The Oratory and Youth Centre

The salesian provides “an environment that makes available educational and    evangelizing activities that consciously address the needs of the young. They also provide strong personal relationships between educators and youths.

          Boarding and hostel arrangements

These services are provided for accepting youths without family or those temporarily estranged from their family. Opportunity is provided for commitment and responsibility for the young people’s daily life. By this, the work of missions and evangelizing is continued with hope that there will be reformation of the youths alongside being educated and given every opportunity to grow and live the Christian life.

            The parish-

     The Salesian provides the environment that focuses on and pays attention to the youths especially the poor ones. They make available evangelization and education activities. Here, there is integration of faith with human development relevant to an individual or the group. 

            Social services and work for youths-at-risk

          This is a form of family atmosphere created in accordance with the pedagogical idea of Don Bosco. The aim is to open the youths to the gospe, giving them opportunities for transformation and building a culture of solidarity in collaboration with other social institutions.

 Social communication

           Through the medium of social communication, attention is paid to developing potentials of persons in the new language of music, theatre, art etc. Editorial centres, press, radio, television, internet usage are provided and promoted, and the educational and pastoral project of Salesians are promoted.

     From the above multi-various ventures of the Catholics, they are projects with potential advantage to the educational system and at the same time are ways of preparing and making available evangelistic efforts that are likely to bring in souls to the kingdom. They also address some of the immediate needs of man.

Implications for the Contemporary Church

World evangelization stars from the immediate environment. The Church must be concerned and see the need to evangelize her immediate Jerusalem, think of the Judea and never lose sight of the uppermost part in prayers, in giving and in every area visible to the Church leadership.

The Church must take a cue from the earlier pioneers in making education the footstep to evangelization. There are very few communities that will resist education, no matter their fear and anxiety about changes it may bring especially in challenging their beliefs.

Church based educational programs must be taken seriously, with focus on evangelism. The Church must be wary of commercializing the educational ventures of the Church. The Church must be ready to make her educational projects assessable and attainable to the people the Church is reaching in her evangelism efforts.

The Church must explore and utilize every opportunity the growing and ever changing technology to attract young ones not only to stay in the Church but to also offer them opportunities to experience personal transformation and genuine faith in the Lord Jesus.


Till the coming of the Lord, the Church must not relent in her evangelistic and educational efforts; the two are complementary. Every individual called, evangelized and educated through the mission of the Church must be ready to support her mission’s efforts in return. A Baptist song says “Let no one say I have nothing I can do when the sinners are dying near you and the Saviour is calling you”. The reason for the call of the saints is to ensure world evangelization is hastened to usher in the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.The Local Church in Africa or even Nigeria must not be afraid, rather she should explore  every opportunities to become a sending Church. The Bible says the harvest is plenteous


Abolade, M.A. (2001). A concise handbook of evangelism in the new


                            Ayodele, 2012.  Christian religious education for a culture of peace in Nigeria

             ( power point presentation)

                         Buconyori, Elie.(1993). The educational task of the Church.The Christian

             Learning Materials  Centre. Nairobi Kenya.

 Fafunwa, Babs. A. (1974). History of education in Nigeria. NPS

                 Educational Publishers LMT, Ibadan

 Farley, William. P.—  D.L. Moody and 19th-Century Mass Evangelism k


 Nduka, Otonti. (1964). Western education and the Nigerian cultural

              background University press Ltd. Ibadan.

Odesola,Adedayo. O. The challenges of religious crisis in Nigeria and its

             effects on missionary task of the Church.Harvesters in the midst of

             21st century crises. Missiologue Magazine of Missiology Student’s

              fellowship of the Nigerian Baptist theological Seminary. Creative

              Wonders Print & Computers Services.

Salesians of Don Bosco, Education and evangelization.

            ( Assessed 20-10-2013

Slot,Steef. Van.(2000). World evangelisation: That all may hear. Hebron

          Theological college, South Africa.


( Assessed 06-11-13


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