One of the greatest losses Black people suffered during slavery was a knowledge of their true history. Led to believe for hundreds of years that they had no history worth remembering, many Blacks even lost the desire to know anything about their African past. But ignorance of one’s history can be a dangerous thing. When a person doesn’t know the truth, he or she becomes susceptible to all sorts of lies. For instance, if someone doesn’t know that 2 + 2 = 4, he can easily be led to believe that 2 + 2 = 5. So it is with history, and because Blacks generally have very little knowledge of their past, they have often been duped into believing lies.
One of the most powerful lies that hinders people of African descent, particularly men, is the notion that “Christianity is the White Man’s Religion.” This lie has become a major stumbling block to many African-Americans when it comes to accepting the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Blinded by the lie that Christianity is a White religion foisted upon our ancestors to make them better slaves, many well-meaning Black men are hostile toward the gospel, rejecting it solely because of their erroneous view of history.
Christianity a White religion? Nothing could be further from the truth. First of all, Christianity is not any man’s religion, not the White man’s, not the Black man’s, not the Yellow man’s, not anyone’s. Instead, it is God’s way of salvation. God, who is beyond our human labels and categorizations, did all the work and gets all the glory. No one race of people can take the credit. That said, certain races have played significant roles in God’s salvation plan and in Christian history throughout the ages. One of those is the Black race.
While the Bible’s main purpose of course, is to teach us and lead us to the salvation found in Jesus Christ (John 5:39), it has also proven to be a treasure-trove of Black history. Far from a “White Man’s book,” the Bible mentions historically Black nations such as Ethiopia, Cush, Canaan and Egypt more than 1,000 times. Conversely, the European nations Rome (20) and Greece (30) are mentioned just 50 times combined (“Biblical Strategies for a Community in Crisis,” pg. 39).
The scriptures regarding Black people are there for a reason. We are told in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Apparently, God in his foreknowledge knew His way of salvation would one day be distorted and tainted by a racial prejudice that led many Blacks to believe they were second-class citizens in the eyes of the world and of God Himself. So according to the above scripture, he gave us certain Biblical texts to reprove and correct this deception. Anyone who has ever tried to minister extensively to Black men in prison or on the streets has certainly run up against the belief that Christianity is the White man’s religion. The following scriptures are just a few that can help us bury that lie, break that stronghold, and equip us for the good work of bringing lost souls into The Body of Christ.
In Acts 2:10, we see men from the African lands of Egypt, Libya and Cyrene present on the Day of Pentecost. Roughly 1600 years before Blacks were enslaved in America, free Black men listened to Peter preach the gospel. Surely some of them must have been among the 3,000 souls (Acts. 2:41) who received Christ that day.
In Acts 8:26-39, we read about an “Ethiopian eunuch of great authority” who accepted Christ after hearing the gospel from the Apostle Philip. In Biblical times, the word Ethiopia did not merely describe the present-day nation known by that name. Instead, it referred to all of Africa south of Egypt. What’s interesting is that this Ethiopian eunuch had gone to Jerusalem to worship (v. 27), and when Philip met him, the eunuch was reading the Bible (v.28). Was he a practicing Jew? Perhaps. Whatever the case, he owned a Bible. In verse 37, the Ethiopian says, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” So again, 1600 years before the African Slave Trade began and about 600 years before Muhammad the Arab created the religion of Islam, Black men were giving their lives to Jesus Christ and becoming Christians.
In Acts 11, we read about an interesting episode in which Africans served as missionaries to Europeans. In verse 19 of that chapter, we read that the Jews who followed Jesus would not preach to the Greeks. This was at a time when the Jews were still coming to grips with the gospel also being for Gentiles. But in verse 20, men of Cyprus and Cyrene enter the picture. Cyrene was a North African town in Libya. It was also home to Simon of Cyrene, the brother who helped Jesus carry the cross to Mount Calvary in Matthew 27:32. Well, according to Acts 11:20, the men of Cyprus and Cyrene went to Antioch and preached “The Lord Jesus” to the Greeks. So there you have it. More than 1400 years before Europeans entered West Africa and the Congo as missionaries, African men took the gospel to White men from Greece.
Two chapters later, in Acts 13, we see that two of the three men who laid hands on the Apostle Paul and sent him out to spread the gospel to the Gentiles were Africans. Once again the thriving Black Christian community in Cyrene was on the scene, as “Lucius of Cyrene and Simon called Niger” (literally, “the Black man”) prayed and fasted with Paul and Barnabas before blessing them to go on their missionary journey.
Finally, we read about “a certain Jew named Apollos” in Acts 18:24. Apollos was born in Alexandria, which was a thriving African city in Egypt and a hub of early Christianity. The Bible says he was “an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures.” Long before – in fact, about 2000 years before – men like Dr. Tony Evans and Bishop T.D. Jakes graced pulpits throughout America, there were Black men who were well-spoken and well-versed in teaching the Bible.
Is Christianity the White man’s religion? Hardly. Don’t let the devil deceive you with that lie for a moment longer. Jesus Christ, Lord of all, is for everybody. He loves Black as much as He loves White, and He loves White as much as He loves Black, and He loves all others as much as He loves Black and White. If you’ve hardened your heart and closed yourself off to the good news of Jesus Christ, realize He has a plan for you and your life; just like he did for the African eunuch, and the men of Cyrene, and the Greeks, and the great Black Bible scholar Apollos. Give your life to Christ today. You won’t regret it.