History have shown that the gospel have spread and continue to spread all over the earth for decades of over 40 years in what is known as world evangelization. In connection with the world evangelization, the Bible made reference to ‘all nations, tribes, peoples, and languages. Evangelization and education may be termed ‘twin sisters’ in the effects each proffer on the one and the other. When scholars’ talk of social change, education is one of the factors that readily come 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 inclusive 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 been interpreted to mean Christianity does not debar us from participating in idol worship. The missionaries really demanded the
souls of Nigerian and almost tothe extinction of any thing called culture just to ensure they are converted to the core.
However, as formal education has great impact on the social change so also it contributed greatly to the process of evangelization in the world, in Africa and in Nigeria as a nation. In another vein, evangelization affect 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 a brief 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 has been defined in various ways, but formal education as used in this work mean education obtained through accredited sources, provided by trained teachers in classroom setting up to secondary or University level.
Process – Oxford Advanced Learner Dictionary defines process as “a series of thingsthat are done in order to achieve a particular result”
This work will consider thisdefinition suitable.
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).
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 has become imperative; and that is why the shift to “World evangelization rather than world mission” (9).
Evangelization comes from the word evangelize,
It means to convert or seek to convert (someone) to Christianity. It also mean 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 (https://www.google.com.ng/search?q=Evangelize&ie=u). tf-8
In addition to the above definition, evangelization involves taken the gospel across frontiers of Nations in cross cultural settings. World Evangelization has been God’s idea from the beginning (Slot (2000, 10) quoting Stott. This came forth while God was speaking out his mind about blessing Abraham, he had the people all over the earth in mind (Gen12:1-3). This refers to 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 Good news of Jesus’ saving grace to people of all the earth, irrespective of tribes, 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 the Boyd’s assertion was that the Church simply usededucation as tools 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 cannot 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 in (Slot, 25-26) 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 the evangelical growth since 1960; how steady has evangelization been, and at what rate compare with the world population growth
Evangelical Growth since 1960
The Bible made it clear that the early Church experienced growth as they fellowship together and broke bread from house to house (Acts 3:44-47; 5:14). Similarly, Buconyori noted that as the church was spreading through evangelization, 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 to a period of 225years, 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 first half of 18th century. He and a group of Christian 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, he was of a poor background yet he determined to enrich himself through hard work. By age 23 he had amassed $8,000 ($800,000 in today’s currency). He was earning the equivalent of $500,000 per year” (http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/200702/200702_128_Moody.cf)
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. As the youths grew, he formed a Church to meet their need. He occupied himself with this during the 1860s. He de-emphasizes church history, the formal study of theology, and the study of the original languages. The result is an emphasis on “me and my Bible.”(http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/200702/200702_128_Moody.cfm).Assessed 20-10-13
The Contribution of Formal Education to the Process of Evangelization
From the on-going discussion, deduction can be made to bring up the contribution of formal education to the process of evangelization and vies-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 that at various times in the process of evangelization was to spread the gospel to the people from coastland to hinterland. However, to make communications 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 relate 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 can only come from formal or informal education as long as there is need to upgrade understanding through communications. 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 implications of this is that your ability to communicate is as good as your 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 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 come to faith through interaction in a formal education setting. 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 been 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. In various areas of human life, and scientific knowledge (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 eyes 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 were non-Christian religions such as the traditional or the indigenous beliefs, different world philosophies that challenges 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 feed the soul to make right decisions without been coarse. Deceptions and force would work effectively on illiterates because they never know but for educated minds, decisions are majorly made on reasoning and conviction.
Formal education also has tremendous influence on the life of the people directly involved. This is to say that though some may achieve to
a great extent in evangelism frontiers but 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
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.
The work of the missionaries in the ability to translate 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 dictionary 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 peoples are been reached readily through given of Bibles in their mother tongue.
There are other contributions of education to process of evangelization and the effects of missions on education. These are contribution of the educative schools of the Salesians, These are social activities targeting the young by Catholic Religious Institute- Salesians
Salesians 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” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salesians_of_Don_Bosco#Various_elements_of_the_new_logo). The Salesians form themselves into a society that undertakes various social works of charity. They used 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 Salesians provide “an environment that make available educational and evangelizing activities that consciously address the needs of the young, they also provide strong personal relationship 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 daily life. By this, the work of missions and evangelizing continued with the hope there will be reformation of the youths at the same times they are educated and given every opportunity to grow and live the Christian life.
The Salesian provides the environment that focuses on and pays attention to the youths especially the poor ones. They made available evangelization and education activities. Here, there is the integration of faith with human development relevant to an individual or the group.
Social Services and Works for Youth-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 gospel and to give them opportunities for transformed lives, build culture of solidarity in collaboration with other social institutions.
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 is promoted.
From the above multi-various ventures of the Catholics, they are projects with potentials to be advantageous to educational system and at the same time are ways of preparing and making available evangelistic efforts that are likely to bring in dividends of souls to the kingdom, and they 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 wisdom 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.
The Church educational programs must be taken seriously and with the focus of 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 every opportunity of the growing and changing technology to attract the young ones not only to stay in the Church but to offer them opportunity to experience personal transformation and experience 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. A Baptist song says “Let no one says I have nothing I can do. When the sinners are dying near you and the Saviour is calling you”. The reason of the call of the pastors, evangelists, and missionaries is to ensure the 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 explores every opportunity to become a sending Church. In Matt 9:37-38 Jesus told his disciples “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”(NIV). May the Lord depend on you and i.
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(http://www.sdb.org/en/about_us/mission Assessed 20-10-2013
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(https://www.google.com.ng/search?q=Evangelize&ie=utf-8). Assessed 06-11-13