(Written by Dr. Randy Smith, President/Founder)
Without a doubt, the Gospel is spreading across Africa (called the dark continent) faster than on any other continent.
According to a 2009 Pew Research Center report, thirty-two percent of the world’s population claims to be Christian. Christianity has about 2.18 billion adherents. Islam is second with 23% of the world’s population. Islam is growing at a faster rate than Christianity and is expected to reach parity with Christianity in 2050. Islam will likely pass Christianity to become the world’s largest religion by 2070.
Christianity is growing most in the global south (south and southeast Asia, S. America and sub-Saharan Africa). It is reported that China is at least 5% Christian, or about 68 million and growing fast!
Let’s look closer at Africa.
In 1910, Europe was 94% Christian (self-identified) and Africa was 9% nominal Christian. Now, (as of 2009) 63% of Africans identify as Christians, and in many countries in Europe less than 10% claim to be actual Christ followers and attend a Christian church. What a reversal! It is estimated that by 2025 there will be 633 million Christians in Africa, 640 million in S. America, and 460 million in Asia! (Source: The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity, by Philip Jenkins).
By 2050, Africa is predicted to have the largest global population of Christians, but Islam, which is growing faster than Christianity, will outnumber Christians with a whopping 960 million advocates across the continent. Add to this that the African continent is getting younger and younger as it has the highest birth rate of any continent. While the global fertility rate has dropped from 5.0 in 1950 to 2.5 currently, the fertility rate for Muslims is 3.8, where as that of Christianity of 2.7. (Source: Pew Research Center, The Future of World Religions – Population Growth Projections 2010-2050, 2015).
According to the 2016 CIA Factbook, Africa is today the youngest continent with a median age of under 20 years old!
So where does this put YMI?
Right in the middle of Africa!
Young Christians in Africa need to be discipled by well-trained youth leaders. With the threat of both the invasion of pop culture from the West, and Islam from the East, Africa’s youth need our help.
Perhaps that is why God is opening up so many doors in Africa to YMI’s high-level youth ministry leadership training programs. At the present time, through our graduates and missionaries, YMI is either already operating in or has been invited to conduct training in the following African nations: Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Uganda, Zambia, Namibia, Ghana, Nigeria, Togo, Cameroon, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The latest country of entry is Nigeria, which is the most highly populated country in Africa at 178 million–50% of which are Christians. Nigeria also boasts the largest and fastest growing economy in Africa. The median age of Nigeria is 18.3, and the median age of Niger (Nigeria’s northern neighbor) is 15.3, the youngest in the world.
YMI just began a MA in youth ministry at the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary with 24 students who, upon graduation, will teach youth ministry in 13 schools across Nigeria. YMI has just been invited to begin a similar MA degree in youth ministry in Ethiopia, Africa’s second largest country, with 87 million people, and a median age of 17.8.
What a challenge and privilege to train youth leaders in Africa! Please pray for YMI and our partners as we attempt to penetrate and then saturate the “dark” continent with the “light” of the Gospel in order to reach and disciple the youth of this magnificent continent through leadership training!