Missionary Involvement in Africa (Historical & Current)


Written by julia.oates

I visited Uganda, Africa, on two mission trips during my high school years. I grew a passion for Africa during my time spent there. I realized I didn’t know very much about missionary work in Africa (both historical and current) and wanted to learn more.

How have missionaries been involved in Africa? Missionaries have been involved in Africa throughout the decades by living among the people with the goal of supporting Africans and sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Missionaries are humble people who long to serve Jesus with their life. The Lord guided them to leave their homes to share the Gospel in a different country. We can be encouraged as we see the work God has done in Africa and is continuing to do to this day.

Historical Missionary Involvement

Missionary work in Africa has taken place since the late 1800s. To better understand missionaries in Africa, let’s start by looking at two of the first influential missionaries in Africa: David Livingstone & Mary Slessor.

David Livingstone

David Livingstone was a missionary to Africa during the 1800s. One key part of his mission was mapping Africa. He thought, how could slavery in Africa end if there wasn’t even a map of the continent?

His goal was to travel the whole width of Africa. Bravely, he traveled over 2,000 miles on foot in 1853. During this time, he saw how horrific the slave trade was up-close and in person. This ignited a greater passion inside him to end slavery.

His work helped to change how people in Britain view Africans. They started to see them as people and not a race below them. He stirred the hearts of people to care about slavery in Africa.

Britain ended up stopping their supporting of colonies that enslaved Africans. Without Livingstone, this likely wouldn’t have happened.

David Livingstone dedicated his life to telling others the Good News of Jesus Christ and help to free people in Africa from the bondage of slavery by mapping the continent.

You can read more about his life and mission work here.

Missionary, traveller, philanthropist… 30 years his life was spent in an unwearied effort to evangelize the native races, to explore the undiscovered secrets, to abolish the desolating slave trade.

David Livingstone’s Tombstone

Mary Slessor

Mary Slessor was the first women missionary in Nigeria, Africa, during the early 1900s. In honor of David Livingstone’s life, she dedicated her life to spreading the Gospel in Africa.

She reached Nigeria for the first time in 1876. At the time, she was doing the unthinkable: being a single woman, in Africa, on the mission field. When she saw the ruthless killings taking place within Calabra, Nigeria, she knew it was time to stand up for the women and children in the villages and help end the wasting of life.

In 1892, Mary became the appointed judge for the British government in the African territory she lived in. She used her role to protect the people in Nigerian from the British government which sought to get rid of the tribes’ culture. Instead, she worked to transform the culture through love.

Mary Slessor’s life shows her heart for the Lord and the people of Africa. She stood strong in the face of opposition and showed the British people how valuable the Nigeran people were.

You can read more about her life and ministry here.

Lord, the task is impossible for me but not for Thee. Lead the way and I will follow. Why should I fear? I am on a Royal Mission. I am in the service of the King of Kings.

Mary Slessor

Current Missionary Involvement

To this day, there are still missionaries serving in Africa. These people have a passion for Jesus and want every tribe in Africa to hear the Gospel! Two current missionary involvement includes: Youth on a Mission & Bill and Linda Campbell

Youth with a Mission (YWAM)

Youth with a Mission is a discipleship training program and they have bases around the world. Seventeen of their bases are in Africa.

YWAM’s core mission is to fulfill the Great Commission given in Mark 16:15, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” Through their training program, students complete two phrases: lecture and outreach.

During the lecture phase, students learn about the Bible and how to share the Gospel with others around the world. Then, they start the outreach phrase this is where they go one of the two hundred bases around the world.

The first YWAM training in Africa took place in Rhodesia during January 1973. They had 54 students, many of whom felt called to stay on the mission field permanently. They focused on teaching students how to hear the voice of God and obey what He asked them to do.

Today, the YWAM base in Uganda is focused on helping orphans through a program called “Orphans Know More.” They are currently assisting 19 families and help them to send their children to attend school, have enough food, and supporting their young adults to attend a university or vocational school.

The YWAM base in Rwanda has a wide range of programs to help the community. They have a street ministry for kids and youth, local church ministry, ministry to Pastors, farming help, counseling, and many more programs for children. They are making an impact in Rwanda by serving the community with Christ-like love.

YWAM is making an impact by serving African people and bringing students to help them share the Gospel with many different African countries!

You can read more about YWAM Africa here.

Bill & Linda Campbell

Pastor Bill and Linda Campbell have been serving in Uganda, Africa since 2003. The Campbell’s ministry called, Prepare the Way, spans many areas including; their children’s home & school, local Pastoral discipleship programs, weekly evangelism, and child sponsorship program.

I visited the Campbell’s twice and was impressed with their ministry because they have a deep passion for God and the Ugandan people. They have trained and hired locals to work for them which means when they leave Africa to visit America, the mission keeps going.

One vital piece of their ministry is child sponsorship. Through child sponsorship, children are able to get an education in a safe environment, learn about Jesus, and eat hot meals daily. Sponsors are able to write letters and send gifts to the child they sponsored as well.

Prepare the Way ministries go out into different villages every Saturday for evangelism. Pastor Bill & Linda partner with a local church every time they evangelize, so they can connect the people to a church in their community.

The Campbell’s ministry in Uganda shows their love and passion for Jesus and the people in Africa. They long for Christ to be exalted in Uganda!

You can learn more about their ministry here.

As we learn of missionaries who gave their lives to serve and share the Gospel in Africa, we should remember what our role in the Great Commission is. Seek God and ask Him what your role is! Maybe it’s supporting a missionary finically, sponsoring a child, taking a short-term mission trip, or praying for an unreached people group in Africa.

Whatever your role looks like, you can honor God by helping to fulfill the Great Commission.

The Great Commission is too big for anyone to accomplish alone and too important not to try to do together.

Steve Moore

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