Friday, August 2, 2013

The Young, Restless, and Reformed…In Africa

After my last blog post, which went “viral” compared to my other blog posts, I have decided to write on something more positive that is happening across Africa—at least in English-speaking countries. This is the growth of the “young, restless, and Reformed” movement on the continent.

In the recent past, I have been in touch with a significant number of people across Africa, who are largely young professionals in their twenties and thirties, and who have recently embraced the Reformed Faith. They have sought me out and shared with me their excitement at their new discovery.

How has this happened? 
This has been almost exclusively through the Internet. Having grown up within extreme Charismatic or mainline Liberal church circles, they did not know any better. However, a growing discontentment has caused them to search the Internet for sermons that would feed their famished souls.

In due seasons, they have come across sermons of men like John MacArthur Jr., John Piper, Paul Washer, Thabiti Anyabwile, etc. Sometimes, it has been because a friend in church or across town or even in another part of the country has made the discovery and commended the site to them.

Sometimes this search has been occasioned by a lively debate among them over Christian doctrine. With the Internet now available on smartphones, they have gone searching for answers so as to return the next day with arguments to win the day. This has landed them in the laps of these preachers.

The testimony of these young men and women has been universally the same. They have listened to a few of the sermons and felt like men and women who have starved for years and stumbled into a room with food meant for a king. Hence, they have listened to everything that they can lay their hands on. They have also foraged the blogosphere for Reformed discussions and monologues.

Upon listening to a number of these preachers, they have invariably added to their vocabulary names and words that they either never knew existed or had been wrongly informed about. They have come to know about preachers like John Calvin, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, plus a whole host of Puritan writers, etc. They have read anything they could find written by them.

They have wrestled with and finally come to know and love the doctrines of grace and the basics of the Reformed Faith. All this has been happening while they are still going to the churches that believe the exact opposite of what they have now come to embrace.  This has set them on the path of searching for churches on the continent that believe what they have now come to believe.

The challenge they now face
This is now their challenge. For most of them, the nearest churches with any semblance of Reformed principles are in cities hundreds of kilometres away. This is the cry that has come to my attention. It is largely a call for help. These young adults are crying for living shepherds who faithfully expound the Scriptures and take oversight work seriously to look after their souls.

This is something some of us have been praying for for ages. Whereas the Reformed movement in Zambia is growing by leaps and bounds, it looked as if it was an oasis in the midst of a continent-wide desert (but for a fountain here and there). This is now changing. Like old Simeon, I now feel like saying, “Lord, let your servant depart in peace for my eyes have now seen your salvation.”

Yet, this is not the time to quit. The work has only begun. It is a Macedonian call, summoning us to send out missionaries who will plant churches where these young men and women are and disciple them as they marry, raise families, and take up places of responsibility in their communities. Many of them have no idea what a proper functioning local church really looks like.

There is need to be by their side as the doctrines of grace go from the head into the heart and transforms them into truly gracious souls. We know how, without proper guidance, the Reformed Faith has led many people into hyper-Calvinism and other terrible extremes. This is the time to nip this tendency in the bud.

The “young, restless, and Reformed” sprouting up all over Africa remind me of the early years of the Reformed movement in Zambia in the 1980s. We counted our doctrines on five fingers and thought that was what the Reformed Faith was all about. We knew next to nothing about “sola Scriptura” in ecclesiology and worldview matters, but we wanted to turn the world upside down for what we had come to know as the Reformed Faith. This is what I am seeing all around.

I have met a few of them in person in my travels around the continent. You cannot miss the first love for the doctrines of grace, which we once had. They’ve found the centre of the solar system of salvation and everything in the Bible is now going around in perfect symmetry. The whole Bible has come alive to them!

Reformed “blacks” in South Africa?
It seems that one country on the whole continent that is leading in this phenomenon is South Africa. Whereas previously the Reformed Faith in this robust form was almost a monopoly of the “white” South Africans and “blacks” shunned the R-word because of its associations with Apartheid, yet these “black” young adults love the R-word and are changing the demographics altogether.

See, for instance, their Facebook discussion wall, “Township Reformation”. Their cover photo has the word “Reformed” screaming out at you. Then the subtitle reads, “Explicitly Calvinistic Language, Christocentric Themes, Strong References to Sovereignty.” This is not coming from graduates of Bible colleges with theological degrees. These are young adults expressing their newfound faith!

I recall spending some time with two of them recently while on a trip to South Africa. They pleaded with me to plant a Reformed Baptist church in their city and, more specifically, in their township. When I was leaving, we got a photo together. I saw it on Facebook a few minutes later with the words, “You see, I told you, I am also Reformed!”


  1. Praise God for this return to God-glorifying, Christ-centred, Biblical Christianity. Here in Germany - the land of Luther, there are tiny glimmers of hope, like the Evangelion21 conferences that are held in Hamburg each year. But in a country where around 5% of the population actually attends church, the issues here are often very basic Gospel issues. But the Gospel we proclaim must always be God-glorifying, Christ-centred and Biblical.

  2. Kingdoms wide that sit in darkness,
    Let them have the glorious light;
    And from eastern coast to western
    May the morning chase the night,
    And redemption,
    Freely purchased, win the day.

    Fly abroad, thou mighty Gospel,
    Win and conquer, never cease;
    May thy lasting wide dominions
    Multiply and still increase;
    Sway thy scepter,
    Savior! all the world around.

    This is the blog post of the year. Thank you Conrad.

  3. This is very encouraging news! It confirms that Satan is really bound according to Rev 20 and he cannot deceive the nations anymore for these “thousands years.” The glorious gospel of Jesus will prevail no matter what. This blog confirms that the “strong man” has been bound by Our Lord Jesus Christ.
    Even though the ATR beliefs have permeated many of our preaching, doctrine and practice in our African continent, the gospel of is still the power of God for salvation. We must not be ashamed of the gospel, the reformed faith.
    Thank Conrad for this blog.
    Paul Lumbu Kayumba

  4. I hope that this glad movement will have more depth than some (missing) parts of the American version. Charles Haddon Spurgeon can be a big help.

  5. How wonderful to hear, Pastor Mbewe. I will be in prayer for the Lord to raise up men to answer your call.

  6. This story is amazing because the same exact thing happened to African Americans in the United States in the past 15 or so years through the means of internet and reformed Christian rap. You could take this exact same article, tweak a few words, and it would represent faithfully what God has done in the states with a different demographic.

    We too, are now on a push to plant solid reformed churches in communities that have not experienced what these beautiful doctrines look like in the life of a local church. Will pray for you often

  7. This is an encouraging message. My prayer is that Reformed Theology goes wider than the 20 and 30s, and wider than the professional classes. Amen.

  8. Thank you for such an encouraging article...I am a 28 year Motswana woman living in Francistown, Botswana. I stumbled on this blog post from the Gospel Coalition. I was lucky to do my tertiary education in Australia where I was introduced to the reformed theology through the Christian Union at the university I attended. I am SO encouraged by this article, I too pray that the reformed theology will grow in our continent and that our brothers and sisters here will get to know our sovereign God as He really is. I long to meet other like-minded Christians in my country and in other African countries as well!

    1. Hi Tiyende. I am also a motswana but based in Gabz. We attend a reformed church here and know of others in Ftown and Orapa. If you would like me to get u in touch with the folks there please let me know. We just recently had our annual reformed conference in Ftown a few weeks ago.

  9. Here is a website for reformed churches in Ghana.

  10. What wonderful news, Pastor Mbewe! May God speed the Reformation in Africa and bring light and salvation to millions.
    Here in Britain the Reformed churches are desperately weak with tiny congregations in most cases. Perhaps in a few years Africans will be bringing the Gospel back to us! How we need it!

    Thou, whose Almighty word
    Chaos and darkess heard,
    And took their flight,
    Hear us we humbly pray
    and where the Gospel ray
    Sheds not its glorious ray,
    Let there be light!

  11. Indeed, Britian does need reformation, repentance, and a whole host of God's mercy.

    It's good to hear of what is happening in Africa.

    May God continue the good work He has begun.

    God bless.

  12. Thanks pastor for the sweet update. May the Lord of harvest have His own way in such places and send more of His troops to help! The Lord has promised to send out labourers into His harvest when we earnestly pray to Him. May we unceasingly look heavenwards! Surely, that is a Macedonian call!" Such reports bring the words of God through Isaiah very fresh "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" [Isaiah 6:8a.

    May the Lord continue to bless your labours.

    Mathews Fikati

    The doctrine of unconditional election states that some of mankind were predestined to everlasting life and the remainder of mankind were foreordained to everlasting death, an eternity in hell. Is unconditional election supported by Scripture? The short answer is, NO!

    Philippians 2:12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;

    Why would the apostle Paul tell the Philippians to work out their salvation, if they had been unconditionally elected for eternal life? They would have not had to worry, if God saved them against their will, and kept them from falling from grace. -----THERE IS NO UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION!

    John 8:24 'Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins,"

    Why would Jesus warn the Jews that they would die in their sins unless they believed. The preselected Jews would have been force to believe and be saved.

    According to the false doctrine of salvation by grace alone, God imputes faith to the unconditionally elected so they will be saved.

    1 Corinthians 10:12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.

    Would Paul tell the Corinthians to be careful that they did not fall, if they had been unconditionally elected for salvation?
    The apostle Paul was taught doctrine by Jesus Himself. Did Jesus forget to tell Paul about unconditional election and once saved always saved?

    1 John 2:1-2......Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.

    Jesus died for the whole world, not just the so-called unconditionally elected few! Everyone who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.

    1 Timothy 2:5-6...the man Jesus Christ 6 who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.

    How arrogant would I have to be to claim that God unconditionally selected me for salvation, but unconditionally selected my neighbor for eternity in hell? Jesus gave Himself as a ransom for all, NOT AN UNCONDITIONALLY SELECTED FEW!



    (All Scriptures quotes from: NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE)

    YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY BLOG. Google search>>>> steve finnell a christian view

  14. True; On my part, our family has been members of Assemblies of God-though the Church I was going was not like the Charismatics churches which we know of. When I joined Campus, I became a member of the Christian Union and it was here my eyes were opened and so the very many excesses of the Charismatic movement which were totally unBiblical. I studied my Bible so as to verify if what is taught is true or not, and my search led to various internet sources and Pastor John MacArthur's site was very resourceful and his sermons enabled me to clearly understand the Bible and I can say all Glory be to God for were it not for His Grace, I would still be deep in heresy of the Charismatics.

  15. I,too am a believer in Christ who just "stumbled" into the doctrines of grace in 2010. I have studied my Bible anew with the teachings of the pastors and teachers that have been mentioned in the article. I have been challenged (to the core) yet blessed.
    I still congregate where I no longer share the same perspective as my bretheren, BUT the Lord has had to teach me to be humble, patient, loving, etc with them. The tendency is SO strong to become, with the knowledge of these wonderful doctrines, "puffed up." May the Lord Jesus all help us to "speak the truth in love."

  16. I read this blog and felt as it was talking about me because thats exactly my testimony,having grown up in a charismatic setting,two years ago I came across Paul washer,from that day onwards I was never the same,the sermons I listened to changed my life,I started searching more and came across Condrad Mbewe,John McArthur,Voddie Bachuam and many more,I told my friend about it and we started studying together and started to see all the errors that we have made and heresy in our own church,even though we still had to go to that church we held own to our new found faith and had an understanding of scripture that we never thought we will have,to cut the long story short my friend and her husband who was not reformed at that time and was a youth pastor at our church are now going to a reformed church in London and unfortunately I came back to Africa,Zimbabwe and the only reformed church there is some 400km,from were I live.and not many people here have heard about the R word,and its so frustrating not to find even one person the whole city that shares your belief,please pray for us here in Zimbabwe.

  17. May the work of our Lord Jesus Christ continue to prosper, may His people hold fast to Scripture be filled a fresh with His Spirit, healing the sick, raising
    the dead and preaching the good news of salvation.

  18. I advise all to visit and get the teachings on so great salvation especially series 3 and 4. All your TULIP will be reformed. Check it out today download all messages and cure your self of fatalism reforms. Just check it out first then let me know your giving you will be grateful you did. Solar christos!

  19. Brother steve,I hear you,but have you considered these scriptures,Acts 13:48 and Acts16:13,14?
    You'd do well to look at these carefully