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Rise of the Global South



The latest two installments of our award-winning Global South series are set on American soil.
It seems odd for a series focusing on church growth in Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent to feature datelines from exotic locations like … Hyattsville, Md., and Indianapolis (and don’t forget our earlier story from Minnesota).

Logos from our Global South series — Africa, South America, the Indian subcontinent and Asia. (Design by Erik Tryggestad)

But these locales are an important part of the story of the changing face of the church. In our first installment of the Global South series, we reported:

The realization that most people who profess Christianity today live in the Global South represents a shift in thinking for religious scholars, church leaders and missions-minded members.
“As Europe and North America complete their transition into a post-Christian era, Africa and South America enter a Christian era,” Evertt Huffard, dean of Harding University Graduate School of Religion in Memphis, Tenn., wrote in a 2006 issue of Restoration Quarterly. …
Philip Jenkins, a professor of religious studies at Pennsylvania State University, estimates that, by 2050, “only about one-fifth of the world’s 3 billion Christians will be non-Hispanic whites.”
“The era of Western Christianity has passed within our lifetimes,” Jenkins writes in “The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity,” “and the day of Southern Christianity is dawning. The fact of change itself is undeniable: it has happened, and will continue to happen.”

Will Christians from the Global South play a role in the “re-evangelizing” of America? What do you think?
We launched Global South in July 2009 to show how a century of unparalleled church growth in Africa and other parts of the world has transformed Churches of Christ. We truly are a global fellowship, and what we have long considered “epicenters” of church growth are shifting from Nashville and Dallas to places including Hyderabad, Tegucigalpa, Phnom Penh and Accra.
We’ve just posted a feature on Joyce Banda, vice president of the southern African nation of Malawi. She traveled to Indianapolis to say thank you to church members assisted in benevolence work in her country. She also gave a unique perspective on the feeding of the 5,000 from the Gospel of John.
Above is a video of ladies from the Church of Christ (Ghanaian Congregation) in Hyattsville rehearsing for a lectureship for Ghanaian women from across the U.S. and Canada. We featured members of the congregation in our July issue, and I blogged about the experience of worshiping with them. Here are a few highlights from the service:

The congregation plans a nationwide event for Ghanaian Churches of Christ on July 17. See the church’s website for more details.
Our July issue also featured stories about The Village of Hope in Ghana, a children’s home and education ministry that is transforming lives on the African continent. Francis Sosu, a young man who was rescued by the ministry, shares his story of how The Village of Hope helped him go from the streets to success. Here’s a video I shot at The Village of Hope last year. (It’s worth watching to hear the children’s laughter when I turn the video camera screen around so they can see themselves.)

I covet your feedback. What do you think of this series so far? Have you found any of the stories inspiring, or is the subject matter too far removed from your life to resonate with you? What would you like to see more of — or less of — as the series continues?
Here is a complete list installments of Global South so far:
Part 1, July 2009
“The changing face of the church” (series introduction, from Ukpom, Nigeria)
“South goes North” (Africans in Minnesota, from Brooklyn Park, Minn.)
“Africa: A century later, church membership tops 1 million” (region-by-region feature, from Kumasi, Ghana)
A conversation with Wendell Broom (former missionary to Nigeria, from Abilene, Texas)
“The new demographics of faith” (editorial)
Part 2, August 2009
“Dream for Christian college materializes” (education and Africa, from Accra, Ghana)
“He takes notes, shoots photos — and preaches” (Inside Story column about Ghanaian church, from Amsterdam)
“Christianity’s southward shift demands new history” (review of “The New Shape of World Christianity” by Mark A. Noll)
Part 3, September 2009
“Whom shall we send” (U.S. missionaries versus indigenous workers, from Kakinada, India)
“Burkina Faso: New life in a land of wooden crosses” (example of American missionary team working in Global South, from Ur-gawn, Burkina Faso)
“To reach Togo” (example of African indigenous mission work, from Kpalime, Togo)
A conversation with Joyce Hardin (former missionary to Korea)
Part 4, October 2009
“Ghana goes global” (How African immigration is changing churches in Europe, from Antwerp, Belgium)
“U.S. churches look south to meet Spanish demand,” (from Quito, Ecuador)
“God’s call to mission knows no nationality” (Views column by Carla Borja Lowe, a Mexican-born church member who has done missions in Italy)
Part 5, November 2009
“Post-apartheid era brings blessings” (profile of Churches of Christ in South Africa, from Benoni, South Africa)
“50 years of missions support” (profile of Al and Donna Horne, from Benoni, South Africa)
Part 6, December 2009
“A supporting role for U.S. Christians” (examples of U.S. missionaries taking on support roles instead of traditional evangelistic roles, from Tabacundo, Ecuador)
“In Ecuador, faith reaches new heights” (profile of indigenous church, from San Bartolo, Ecuador)
“India and the subcontinent: A profile of churches” (from New Delhi, India)
“A conversation with Mark A. Noll” (Christian author and scholar)
April 2010
“A conversation with Maria Dutton” (church member in Brazil)
Part 7, May 2010
“Camp Cambodia: Teens in Asia serve” (from Siem Reap, Cambodia)
“Southeast Asia: A profile of churches” (from Johor Bahru, Malaysia)
Part 8, June 2010
“Can Christians and Muslims coexist?” (from Kokologho, Burkina Faso)
“Demon possession, healings are common beliefs in Africa”
Part 9, July 2010
“Mr. Boateng goes to Washington: Believers from Global South worship in D.C. area” (from Hyattsville, Md.)
“To give hope, it takes a village” (profile of Village of Hope, from Gomoa Fetteh, Ghana)
“Law school grad: ‘Love lifted me’ from the streets to success” (profile of Ghanaian youth helped by Village of Hope, from Edmond, Okla.)
“After eight years in Africa, Dr. Ellen Little comes home” (profile of missions doctor to Uganda, from Abilene, Texas)
Part 10, August 2010
“Listen to what we have to say” (Vice President of Malawi applauds church members for partnership, from Indianapolis)
“Celebrating the beautiful game” (Africa’s first World Cup shows emergence of Global South — look for this story soon)
Future story ideas: New life in “the killing fields,” feature on Churches of Christ in Cambodia; Churches in Singapore find new ways to serve their community; Profile of churches in Malawi; Honduras’ Baxter Institute sends Latin Americans to Latin America; Brazil church-planting effort celebrates 50th anniversary
What are we missing? Please share your ideas for future installments in this series.

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