Services of the Missionaries in African Churches

The Christian missionaries were groups of Europeans who came to Africa with the aim of spreading the good news of Christ. They started their activities between the 18th and 19th century. The missionaries rendered the following services in Africa.

1.   The missionaries introduced formal education by building schools like St. Mary's college Kisubi, St. Mary's College Managing, Kings College Buddy and Namilyango College in Uganda and Alliance high school in Kenya.

2.   The missionaries preached and spread the gospel of Christ. This was with the aim or bringing salvation to Africans who were regarded to be in "darkness" spiritually

3.   The missionaries introduced modern transport and communication network in Africa. They constructed roads and even supported the construction of some railway lines like the Uganda railway.

4.   The missionaries introduced cash crops such as coffee, cotton and tea. This improved the standard of living of the Africans.

5.   The missionaries trained the Africans skills in life such as carpentry and building.

6.   The missionaries stopped the evil of slavery and slave trade. This brought to an end long term suffering such as famine, family breakages and death inflicted upon the Africans.

7.   The missionaries up lifted the status of African women. They preached equality between men and women as opposed to a situation where men were considered superior.

8.   The missionaries also introduced new languages in Africa including English, French, Germans and others. This eased communication among the Africans themselves who could not understand each other because of the many tribes having different languages


9.   The missionaries built churches including Namirembe and Rubaga Cathedrals. This centralized worshipping among the Africans as opposed to the existence of many shrines.

10. The missionaries improved the health status of Africans by constructing hospitals including Mengo, Rubaga, Nsambya (all in Kampala) and St. Mary's Hospital Lacor in Gulu.

11. The missionaries brought new methods of farming by introducing facilities like tractors, hoes and even the idea of crop rotation.

Problems the Missionaries faced in their Services

1. There was poor transport and communication network. This was because Africa had no proper roads and was covered by tall grass and thick forests that were impenetrable.

2. There was also language barrier. Both the missionaries and the Africans could not understand each other's language. The missionaries were forced to train interpreters but this caused delays in their work.

3. The missionaries faced the problem of tropical diseases such as malaria, small pox and jiggers. This claimed the lives of so many and forced some missionaries to go back to their home countries.

4. The missionaries had inter-religious conflicts. They clashed basing on religious denominations and with other religions. For example, in Buganda the Protestants and the Catholics fought in settling their differences.

5. Hostile tribes including the Nandi and the Masai of Kenya often attacked the missionaries. These tribes looted property and even killed some missionaries.

6. Besides, there were also wild animals like the lions that killed so many missionaries at Tsavo in Kenya.

7. The African climate was too harsh to the missionaries. Whereas there was heavy rainfall in some places, other places were too dry and hot.

8. There was inadequate manpower. The missionaries were too few compared to the vast areas of Africa they had to serve.

9. There was also inadequate funding from their home countries. This blocked the missionaries from delivering some services that needed funds.

10.    Inter-tribal wars prevented the missionaries from rendering their services effectively. Because of this, there was no unity among the Africans themselves. This made it difficult for the missionaries to forge unity.

 Great Personalities who Served African Churches

St. Francis of Assisi

–Religious Deacon, confessor and religious founder born 1182 AD-1226 AD.

Francis was an Italian the greatest church reformers. He was a catholic whose followers were called Friars (brothers).

He founded the men’s Order of Friars Minor, the women’s Order of St. Clare and the third Order of St. Francis .  They were not to live in fine buildings but simple houses like the ordinary poor.

He called his followers back to a fresh understanding of the vow of poverty. This was when they had started living luxurious lives   .

He inspired other people to follow his exemplary life

He lived a life of self-denial and was always joyful because of being poor.  

He spread the gospel as started by Christ more especially among the monks and the nuns.

He wrote down some rules of life to guide his followers in his many Christian literatures

He encouraged education and learning among the poor and even taught in many Universities.

Bishop Shanahan of Southern Nigeria

He was an Irish man who arrived in southern Nigeria in 1902.

Three years later, he was in charge of the Catholic Church among the lbo where he Preached the gospel of Christ

He promoted education of children in schools by emphasizing that education was very valuable.  

He traveled hundreds of miles visiting towns, chiefs and seeing schools.

He conducted catechism classes for both adults and' children beginning from

He advocated for equality between men and women. He did this by giving special instructions to sisters to train women some in skills in life.

He ordained the first lbo catholic priest to help in the spread of the gospel.

He made parents take school leadership through involving them in the committees.

He encouraged Africans to preserve their good cultures' and called for reforms where necessary.     

He was a good organizer who travelled hundreds of miles visiting towns; chiefs and seeing how the schools were progressing.

Arthur Shearley Cripps of Rhodesia

He was an Anglican missionary in Rhodesia (today’s Zimbabwe) from 1901 until his death in 1953.

He lived a self-denial and exemplary life by practicing poverty.

He campaigned for African's rights by helping them retain their land that was being given to the white fathers

He was a poet and a writer. He wrote many literatures explaining and interpreting biblical teachings in the missions where he worked.

As a parish priest, he preached the good hews among his people.  He generously contributed money to run the mission on which he worked. 

He never discriminated between the blacks and the whites, but treated them equally.

He made missionary journeys travelling on foot to different places where he preached the good news.

Brother Toby Kizza of Uganda

He was born in 1872 and was baptized by the white fathers in 1890.

He was later trained as a catholic brother in Algeria and returned to Uganda in 1896.

He founded many missions in many parts of Uganda where he would preach the gospel.  

He showed concern and helped the sick. This was what earned him admiration from all people especially the sick.

He lived an exemplary life and never put himself above others e.g. he sat at the back of the lorry while travelling to Rwera.      

He died at the age of 89 in 1961

Reverend Ezekiel Apindi of Kenya

Apindi was born of wealthy parents in 1885 in western Kenya.

He became a Christian in 1905 while working in Nairobi and Mombasa.

He returned home in 1913 where he started preaching the good news and converting his people.

He later became a member of a delegation chosen to voice, the grievances of Africans about colonial rule in London.

He founded schools and missions in places including Mara in Tanzania and was a teacher in these schools.

He was ordained as a reverend and became the rural dean of Kisumu. This is where he founded the union school for children of all religions.

He lived a prayerful life and encouraged his followers to do the same.

Licensed under the Developing Nations 2.0

A complete talking Book for Uganda certificate of Education