I will excerpt several paragraphs from this Reuters story at the end of this blog post in case the link disappears. For now, just a couple of comments.
"Christians say the ecstatic experiences offered by Pentecostals are more exciting than the subdued worship--complete with silent congregations and soporific organ music--that the continent's first missionaries brought here."
Now THAT sounds like what some of the young American Christians are saying about why they go to the churches with the praise bands, etc. We are in email contact with a man in Uganda who runs a school and is a music teacher. We were very interested in finding out what kind of Christian music he uses with the children and on Sundays. He sent us several cassette tapes of Christian music from Uganda. We were shocked, not because the music was some raucous African music, but because the tapes contained slow, boring versions of traditional European hymns.
The article also discusses the preachers, many of whom are American, who find a ready audience because of poverty and disease. Some promise cures and prosperity. Some encourage a specific donation to receive a "blessing." Of the American preachers, the article says, ""Africans want things done powerfully," said Rev. Nathan Samwini of the Christian Council of Ghana. "You meet white evangelicals from America, they behave like Africans. They are vibrant, everything is done with vigour.""
The article discusses hints that some of these preachers may be frauds.
I expect that when I'm in Uganda, I will attend some worship services and pray with people. I'm looking forward to new experiences. I expect that I will have to work at having an open mind if we go to a healing service.
Christians say the ecstatic experiences offered by Pentecostals are more exciting than the subdued worship -- complete with silent congregations and soporific organ music -- that the continent's first missionaries brought here.
"Africans want things done powerfully," said Rev. Nathan Samwini of the Christian Council of Ghana. "You meet white evangelicals from America, they behave like Africans. They are vibrant, everything is done with vigour."
For Pentecostals, the Holy Spirit -- the third person of the Christian Trinity -- plays an active role in life, performing miracles and answering prayers. This appeals greatly to a continent beset by poverty and sickness.
"The success of Pentecostalism is the focus on people's problems in this life," said Allan Anderson, Professor of Global Pentecostal Studies at England's Birmingham University.
"In countries where people are living on the breadline, Pentecostalism gives hope."
Analysts say Pentecostal churches started flourishing in the 1980s, as African nations suffered economic decline on falling world commodity prices.
Destitute farmers poured into slums, seeking dwindling city jobs and creating an urban underclass in need of a new dream.
"In the 1980s, our country started having serious problems," said Abbot Justin Bile, from St. Joseph's in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a nation ruined by kleptocracy and war.
"The suffering of the population pushed them to seek material solutions. If there's a pastor promising a visa, job, or marriage, people flock to them."
Politicians have also contributed to Pentecostalism's rise by welcoming foreign evangelists. Some, like Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, seek favour with the televangelist-backed U.S. administration, analysts say.
Others, like Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and Ghana's former president Gerry Rawlings, faced criticism from traditional church leaders and turned to Pentecostal churches to fill a legitimacy gap.
America's preachers have long grasped the potential material rewards of their spiritual gifts.
Hinn has said he earns up to $1 million a year, lives in a $10 million seaside mansion and owns a private jet. Creflo Dollar, who visited Uganda this month, drives a Rolls Royce.
Africa's preachers are learning fast.
At Uganda's Holy Fire Ministry -- a marquee beside a dirt track near the airport -- hundreds line up for blessings from "Prophet" Pius Muwanguzi, whose purported talents include curing AIDS by touching the forehead.
In the kneeling congregation: a polio victim, a blind man and a girl who lost her phone.
The pastor touches an old woman, she faints. Then out come the collection envelopes. Minimum is 100,000 Uganda shillings ($62.5), although the poor can give as little as 10,000 to receive a blessing.
Muwanguzi, whose own blessings include a smart suit and a new Toyota Land Cruiser, declined an interview. But his secretary Jackie Kamanyire said payments were voluntary.
"If you feel like sowing a seed, you sow. It comes from your heart. The Prophet cures AIDS, cancer and sickle cell disease with his blessings."