The rise of the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement in African countries like Ghana has inspired new ways of dealing with the challenges of life. A critical area of operation for the movement is the 'healing and deliverance' ministry. One of its main aims is to help people deal with inherited guilt through rituals for healing the past. The worldview of mystical causality that underlies a system of shrine slavery among the Ewe of Ghana called Trokosi, offer one example from traditional religions, of how such traditional institutions may stigmatise victims and generations after them, sometimes perpetually. Vestiges of such stigmatisation still remain even in places where shrine slavery has been abolished by law. In keeping with the prophetic declaration by Ezekiel that the sins of the fathers shall no more be visited on their children (Ezekiel 18), the Pentecostal/Charismatic ministry of 'healing and deliverance' provides a Christian ritual context in which the enslaving effects of generational curses resulting from the sins of one's ancestry may be broken. Pentecostals believe that it is through the 'deliverance' that the born again Christian may experience fullness of life in Christ.
Childlessness is an issue of deep religious concern in Africa. Men, women and couples with problems of sexuality and childlessness make use not only of the resources of traditional African religions but also of the many Pentecostal/charismatic churches and movements that have burgeoned throughout sub-Saharan Africa in the last three decades. Initially this was the domain of the older African independent churches, as far as the Christian response to childlessness is concerned; the new Pentecostals have taken on the challenge too. Based on the same biblical and traditional worldviews that events have causes, these churches have mounted ritual contexts that wrestle with the issues of sexuality and childlessness. In pursuing this salvific endeavor, however, the needs of those who may never have children seem to have been neglected by the churches considered here and represented by the Pure Fire Miracle Ministries, a Ghana/Nigeria charismatic church located in Ghana. is partial approach to 'healing' childlessness has led to one-sided interpretations of what it means to be fruitful and prosperous and deepened the troubles of the childless.
In Ghana, as with other African religious and cultural contexts, religion is a survival strategy. It is a dynamic phenomenon, which at every level of appropriation has been experiencing certain innovations informed by existential and supra-mundane needs. Some of these innovative appropriations of religion in contemporary Ghana include pilgrimages to religious sites in search of God's intervention for healing. Roman Catholicism, mainline Protestantism and Pentecostalism, the three main streams of Christian expression in Ghana have all had their members develop penchants for such pilgrimages although patronage is never denomination specific. In this article we examine some of the innovative ways in which healing pilgrimages have developed in the various Christian traditions and what implications these have for understanding religion in a contemporary African religio-cultural context.
The rise of immigrant churches and African-led churches in the Diaspora is one of the most important developments to occur in world mission at the end of the 20th century. Most of these churches are made up of Africans who felt left out in the historic churches of the West. A number of these are of Pentecostal/charismatic persuasion and have developed into some of the most dynamic religious communities in the countries where they exist. Additionally, a new type of African-led church has emerged in the diaspora in Europe. This article is a case study of two well-known African diaspora mega-churches in Europe, the Church of the Embassy of the Blessed Kingdom of God for all Nations based in Kyiv, Ukraine led by Sunday Adelaja, and the London-based Kingsway International Christian Center led by Matthew Ashimolowo. Using the conversion narratives of the born-again experience and the subsequent redemptive uplifts that people testify to have experienced through these churches, the article discusses the importance of these developments within the context of mission and migration in the diaspora.
Pentecostalism in Africa has evolved as different streams characterized by particular modes of articulating the Christian message. The older independent churches were known for their emphasis on healing and prophecy and the classical Pentecostals talked much about speaking in tongues and holiness. Although these themes are present in contemporary Pentecostal discourse the new churches are best known for their messages of empowerment and prosperity that are meant to address the aspirations of Africa’s upwardly mobile youth. Using the writings of two of the movements most influential leaders from Ghana, this article discusses the ways in which the story of the Patriarchs, especially Jacob, has been reinterpreted to fit into the message of upward mobility and the principles that are meant to lead up to it. It is argued here that although the authors did not intend to misapply Scripture, by reinterpreting the schemes of Jacob in terms of the principles of success, they fail to take account of the element of ‘grace’ which is able to turn the worst of sinners into saints. Jacob did not succeed because he applied the principles of success but because God touched him with his grace during the time of wrestling with the angel.
Religion and life, both private and public, remain strongly linked in Africa. This was recently expressed in a prayer vigil organized by Ghana Airways when the staff and management invited a London-based Ghanaian evangelist, Lawrence Tetteh, to lead a 'healing and deliverance' service aimed at exorcizing evil spirits from the affairs of the airline and releasing it from its predicaments. The organization of a healing and deliverance session by a public corporation, it is argued, is symptomatic of the quick African resort to the sphere of religion in the search for solutions to life's difficulties. Religious functionaries including Pentecostal/ Charismatic pastors are important in Africa as purveyors of powerful prayers, potent medicines, and amulets for protection against evil. The Pentecostal 'healing and deliverance' ministry has become popular in African contexts like that of Ghana because it takes African worldviews of mystical causality seriously. This Christianity promises Christian alternatives to the search for security that drives people into the courts of other religious functionaries.