After years of civil war, the people living in the country of Sierra Leone returned to communities in which neighbors had experienced trauma at the hands of one another. The fabric of community had been torn apart and the reunification of these areas was vital to resettling and restoring peace. The relational ties that form the foundation of local culture needed to be restored and one way that the people engaged in forgiveness and “peace-building” was through a ceremony called Fambul Tok.
Fambul Tok, or “family talk” is a sacred bonfire that creates a space for victims and perpetrators to tell their story, ask for, and receive forgiveness from the people they had wronged. Following the bonfires, victim and perpetrator will join in planting crops or playing games together as a sign of forgiveness and restoration.
How can the church learn from this example of radical forgiveness of deeply personal and traumatic grievances?
Tim Høiland has a wonderful article in a current issue of PRISM magazine about the ceremony, its impact upon the community and lessons to learn regarding forgiveness. (Read the full article at PRISM)
Westerns struggle to understand forgiveness without retribution. This is true even for Christians, who believe we have been reconciled to God through Christ while we were still his enemies. The grace and forgiveness we have received is completely unmerited, and we’re instructed to go and do likewise, laying down our lives for others.
But when it comes to those who have wronged us, it doesn’t always follow that we automatically forgive. After all, shouldn’t the perpetrator be made to pay for his crime? Continue reading
Some interesting thoughts from the late Dr. Kwame Bediako.
1. Comparison between initial Christian mission to Northern Europe and missionary activity in Africa
2. The utilization of pre-Christian elements that persist into a Christian era
For more information about African Christianity, see our recent post in the Global Theology Countdown.
(Video is extra interview bites from Dr. Kwame Bediako for a documentary film project on African Christianity produced and directed by James Ault in 2009)
A new format we’re trying here on the blog is the Global Theology Countdown, where we will break down a large topic into more easily accessible parts, linking to other sites for those who would want to go deeper.
- 4 Keys to Understanding
- 3 People to Know
- 2 Blogs Worth Reading
- 1 Book to Read Immediately
This post covers Contemporary African Christianity and we welcome contributors to share on a different context or more information regarding Christianity in Africa. Enjoy! Continue reading
There was an article published recently by John Thorton and Linda Heywood, both of Boston University, on The Root about the conversion of the king and the kingdom of Kongo to Catholicism in the 1400s. It is an excellent historical reminder of the varied cultural expressions of Christianity throughout history. Espcecially poignant to me are the implications to the Christianity expressed within the African-American community that would find its ancestry (partially) within these brothers and sisters.
About 1 in 5 Americans of African descent come from Kongolese stock, with the greatest percentages being concentrated in South Carolina and Louisiana. They carried their religion with them, as well; the Stono Rebellion in 1739, the largest slave uprising in the U.S. before independence, was led by Kongolese Catholics anxious to escape slavery in Protestant South Carolina to freedom in Catholic Florida.
In some parts of the Americas, Kongolese actually created their own missionary activity. George Christian Andreas Oldendorp, a Moravian missionary, reported that Kongolese slaves in the Virgin Islands baptized and catechized incoming slaves from non-Christian Africa; the Brazilian Inquisition examined the activities of Pedro Congo, who dressed in priestly garb and said Mass to a congregation drawn mostly from non-Christian parts of Africa.
This complex story reveals an important aspect of the African-American past: that 20 percent of African Americans descend from Africans who came to these shores from a region that had sustained its own version of Christianity for four generations before the first Africans arrived in Virginia.
Follow this link for the full article…