From Africa: Christian Universities as Channels of Blessings for the Nations
WCIU Journal: Education Topic
November 8, 2017
by Moussa Bongoyok, Ph.D
Dr. Bongoyok delivered an address to WCIU constituents in July, 2011, on the topic of Christian universities as a blessing to the nations while he was planting a university in Cameroon with the help of WCIU. You can view his talk here.
Universities are very strategic in today’s societies. Charles Malik, in his A Christian Critique of the University, pointed out that “the university determines the course of events and the destiny of man more than any institution today” (page 25). For this reason, if Christians are to impact their nations with the message of the Gospel, they cannot afford to be on the margins of what is happening in universities.
Planting Universities Will Allow Us to Reach the Cream of a Society
In Africa, all children do not get the opportunity to go to school. Due to various social factors and to a severe and selective educational system, among those who go to school, many drop before they reach sixth grade and more than a half before they reach 12th grade. Those who reach the university level are among the most fortunate. Generally, university students are highly regarded and most university graduates end up getting the highest job positions. University students are the cream of the society. But are we reaching them with the Gospel message?
Some Christian denominations and movements are trying to reach out to students and professors for Christ but even well organized and dynamic movements like the InterVarsity Fellowship and Cru are reaching a very small percentage of the student population. Even Christian students who were very active in High School abandon the church altogether in university and become deeply immersed in secular philosophies and ideologies.
Equipping Men and Women for Holistic Ministry
The curriculum of most Bible institutes and seminaries in Francophone Africa includes disciplines that are not related to biblical or theological studies. Yet, the graduates are not adequately prepared to meet the felt needs of the church members and even less those of their fellow citizens. Yet many Christian Liberal Arts Schools, Non Profit Organizations, and development projects are led by seminary graduates without adequate preparation. By God’s grace, some of them are doing an outstanding job, but the vast majority are struggling. The rank of those who failed is growing year after year.
Some Churches and Christian organizations are almost forced to appoint unqualified seminary graduates just because there are no qualified mature Christians trained in these areas and they are afraid if they hire non-Christian professionals, they would destroy the Christian character or the missional orientation of the ministry. This is quite understandable. However, if Christians planted more universities, it would be easier to find qualified Christian personnel for our health care centers, schools, development projects, to name only these.We will even provide qualified personnel for our governments and for private businesses. They will go and proclaim the Gospel wherever God places them through their words and above all through their deeds. [Editor’s note: See the post, “Francophone University of International Development,” for an example of how WCIU has helped plant a university.]
Loren Cunningham, the founder of Youth with a Mission, identified the following seven areas where the Church needs to concentrate in order to impact the nations and turn the hearts of people back to God (see this LINK): home, church, schools, government and politics, the media arts, entertainment, and sports, commerce, science, and technology.
How can we adequately prepare Christians to have a significant influence on each of these seven spheres if we focus on Bible institutes and seminaries? There is a need to create Christian universities where men and women will be prepared in all these domains with a holistic mission vision. As Alvin Platinga pointed out in his The Twin Pillars of Christian Scholarship:
Scholarship is an intensely social activity; we learn our craft from our elders and mentors; but we can’t learn to do Christian scholarship from our mentors at these universities [secular universities]. That is why it is of first importance that there be Christian universities, institutions where these questions to take pride of place, and where a student can think about the bearing of Christianity on her disciplines in a regular and institutionally sanctioned way.” (page 63).
Christ came with a holistic vision and a holistic Gospel and he has become a source of real blessings not only to Christians but to the whole world as well. Christians, throughout world history, has contributed in variety of ways to make this world a better place and to prepare mankind for greater blessings that are still to come when this world ends. As the father sent our Lord Jesus Christ, he is sending us. Let us go and impact our nations through universities that will prepare men and women to be channels of holistic blessings to their nations.