Project Canterbury




E. D. K. WOOD (Archdeacon of Mashonaland)


I warmly commend Archdeacon Wood's
pamphlet for the serious study of all who
are concerned in the advancement of God's
Kingdom anywhere in the world.






Transcribed by Wayne Kempton
Archivist and Historiographer of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, 2008

(The following is written in Central Africa, and, in
particular, Mashonaland, Southern Rhodesia)


MEN and women who turn their thoughts towards missionary work in Africa today may not always realise how times and conditions have changed even since the days, perhaps not very long ago, when they first heard about the Church's work overseas. Perhaps most of the information they first received was from not very up-to-date pamphlets or books which still reflected the mission field of 50 years ago. If they follow their thoughts, and God's call to them, by coming to Africa as priests or teachers, or in any other capacity, they may find that the life and the work are different in many respects from what they had imagined. This is particularly so in the case of people who have not been very closely in touch with some society which can provide them with the latest information.

So much that finds its way into missionary magazines and reports has to do with incidents or developments of a particular nature and interest. The "overall picture" does not appear so frequently. These notes are intended to give some insight into that "overall picture" which would appear so desirable.


But first of all, lest we should feel overwhelmed with the sense of change and transition, let it be emphasised repeatedly that the same fundamentals are just as necessary as ever they were: the knowledge of God in Jesus Christ, and devotion to him in his Church; self-surrender in his service; and, in varying degrees, the sacrifice of family, friends, home comforts, many of the surroundings and benefits of "civilisation" and "culture" as it has been known in the home country. These will already have been considered and weighed by the candidate for overseas service.

There are changes, of course, in such things as are mentioned above in the latter part of the paragraph. There is not, it should be observed, the old romance and adventure which called the pioneers; although it is surprising how much even of this may unexpectedly appear from time to time. There are more of the ordinary comforts than there used to be--better houses, and more furniture which is not constructed from packing cases; easier communications; and other amenities which naturally vary considerably in different places. The danger here is that the missionary's standard [1/2] of living may become too high in comparison with that of his flock, even when theirs has improved so much. In consequence there may be a loss of sympathy, of "fellow-feeling", with the people; and a loss of their confidence and friendship. The right balance is one of the hardest things to determine; for whatever we have will appear to be great wealth and comfort to most of the people around. On the other hand, simplicity of life is the important thing, and the thing which will make the most lasting impression.

Far more vital and noticeable is the change in relationships between the missionary and his people which is rapidly taking place. He is not now, as a rule, the sole leader and guardian and teacher of his flock. In the early days he had to be and to do practically everything; evangelist, priest, teacher, doctor, judge, handy-man, and many other things besides. "You are our father" was the common appeal of all kinds of people, both Christian and non-Christian, who came to seek his help. His word was law, not only in things spiritual, but in many mundane matters too, when other authority or aid was distant or unknown. If he was humble, relying on the grace of God and forgetful of himself, the mission priest was a real "father", and his relationship with his "children" was easy and friendly, however firm. He did not, as a rule, become a dictator. He sought to do always what was right for all, what was best and wisest for all, without fear and without favour.

This happy, easier relationship is made more complex and difficult now; and that for many reasons, some of which will now be suggested.


The development of the work of a mission and of the means of evangelism and of pastoral care may be put first. Here we have so much to be thankful for, but we must not be blind to the dangers of the process of growth. One of these is that of becoming impersonal, just as may happen in a large and under-staffed parish at home.

The original mission station has become the centre of a great number of "outstations", scattered over a wide and often difficult geographical area. Most of these outstations have primary schools in various stages of development, which have to be cared for. In between and around them are villages which could once be visited with comparative ease on foot, on donkey, in waggon or on a bicycle. The people saw and came to know the priest, and he his people. His progress around his district was slow, even (according to modern standards) leisurely. It was practically only the weather and the natural geographical features--the rains, swollen rivers, high mountain ranges--that hindered that progress. Now, there are many more places to look after, while at the same time there is more [2/3] activity at the centre to claim his attention. There are schools which must be visited according to the demands of the Government; there are many more African priests and teachers to take care of and watch over; as will be seen as we continue our survey. But there is also the mission car or truck to get about it and to assist in transport of materials and other goods. The truck will be used as a means of getting around to the outstations; it will be filled at times to overflowing with building or school materials, and as many passengers as can crowd in unnoticed; it will be an ambulance one day, and a hearse another (although there may be no connection between these uses!); and it may still provide a night's shelter for the priest, out of reach of the ants and rats which may be at work at night in his thatched hut near the church and school.

This mobile blessing, as in many a parish, has revolutionised our pastoral work. It enables us, it is true, to cover greater distances in less time; but at what cost in personal contacts and friendly calls! The time which, in theory, we save--how is it used? As a rule it is taken up at the beginning or the end of a journey, to the loss of those who live between these points. In such ways we are bound to count the cost of "progress", and to re-adjust our methods, and try to keep a sense of proportion.

This much may suffice to suggest the general situation; but now for more detail.


The progress and "advancement" of the indigenous people has naturally brought its own new problems for the missionary. We are now, very often, no longer dealing with a mass of primitive, non-Christian people; but with a growing population of educated, or semi-educated, persons, many of them of the young generation. An "educated" African--and no contempt is implied in the inverted commas for the word "educated"--in Central Africa today is as a rule one who has passed Standard Six. Some have gone further, it may be through Junior Certificate, or Matriculation, or even a few gain a degree: but very few in comparison with those who have for various reasons stopped at Standard Six. There are of course very many more who have failed to reach that standard, and are unlikely to do so. The reasons for their failure to go further may be the shortage of teachers and therefore of schools; economic hindrances, usually the inability to find the necessary boarding fees and so on; or social hindrances, as we may call them, such as the unwillingness of parents to continue to send their children to school, or their requiring a boy or girl at home; and, of course, the universal hindrance in some of the young of any country or race--inability to "go up higher".

[4] Now here is the problem, which may be summed up in the old saying "A little learning is a dangerous thing". Dangerous--because too often it gives self-confidence, which, while not always arrogant, is usually difficult to handle in the right way. A door has been opened, even if only a crack: the wider world of education and advancement has been seen outside: yet there may not be room to pass through the crack into that world. The person has advanced beyond his fellows; feels, and often is from the purely academic point of view, superior to them; desires and demands more freedom and more responsibility, more opportunity, without always knowing what these entail. He tends to compare himself not only with those higher up the ladder than he, but with those on the rungs below. Compared with the former, he is repressed, dominated, seemingly sometimes despised: compared with the latter he is educated, "advanced", capable, wise, ripe for leadership and control.

Can we wonder that there is dissatisfaction and depression, sometimes a noisy self-assertion, and often an embittered sense of frustration and defeat? And can we really wonder, too, that often the missionary, the employer, and even his fellow-Africans, are let down by persons perched precariously between ignorance and knowledge, wider horizons and narrow confinement, theoretical opportunity but (too often) practical dead-ends? Is it unnatural that there should be discontent and disappointment for so many at the end of years of pinching and scraping to pay for education; and in many cases to pay for younger brothers or sisters, when the individual has himself began to earn?

Moreover, we should hardly expect that at this early stage in the raising of people, all those who have "got somewhere" should in all their getting get wisdom! It should not surprise or shock us unduly--although each new occasion is bound to be a hurt--that beneath the thin layer of book-learning there often lies the uncontrolled passion of the natural man or woman, the unreliability of those who have had little opportunity for responsibility; the lack of openness and honesty of those who are perhaps suddenly confronted with material possessions and chances of material gain beyond what they have known or imagined before. Christian faith and devotion have to be very strong and sincere, with a continual need for grace and for asking for it, if our Christians of the first or second or third generation, with all their inner and surrounding temptations, are to be made to stand. As a rule their outward loyalty to the Church is firm, in spite of individual lapses: it is in the inner life of the Spirit that they need so much help and encouragement.

If the missionary needs, or needed, to understand and guide the heathen, he needs no less to have grace to deal with those who find themselves in this new world of knowledge, of material wants and [4/5] enticements, where their moral fibre is tested in new and fiercer ways, and their faith tried as never before. The African is not unique in his need of the living Christ in the living Church to guide and uphold him.


Yet we must go further: for clearly it is not for the missionary just to put up with many difficult people, to bear with them patiently, and try to lead them in the right way and bring them back when they take the wrong road. Positively, he is called to deepen their Christian faith; to enable them, as far as he can, to use their new knowledge and position in the Church and in their "world"; and to encourage them in whatever way he can to become partners in the work of God and examples to and true leaders of others. He may not always be able to see that they are placed in suitable positions of employment: but at least in the Church they should feel that they are understood and wanted, and given whatever opportunities there may be for service and fellowship.

It is just here that a new humility--or rather, the old humility directed along new ways--is so much needed. For the simple fact is that the missionary today is not "needed" or "wanted" in quite the same ways as he used to be. The time has come, at any rate in many places, when like John the Baptist in another and greater but not less difficult and challenging sense, the missionary from overseas must "decrease". To one who expects to be in the old manner the father and almost the ruler of his people, this may be a hard lesson to learn. But learned it must be, if a strong, self-supporting indigenous Church is to grow up from its foundations, to be expressive of African ways of thought and devotion; not dependent always on "Western" ways and means. There are so many things, from hymn tunes to account books, that the mission priest must be prepared to give way about, or on which he must in some measure loosen his personal and complete control. People demand it: wisdom demands it. The demand must be met, or new opportunities will be lost; and the people will begin to go their own way without regard for reason, or for the slackened reins which can still guide and control.

No one who knows the situation would deny the necessity for change; nor assert that it is easy to carry out the new methods. It is first and foremost a matter of right human relationships, which are often the most difficult things to adjust. On the one side are desires and demands, often irrational and unreasonable at the present stage: on the other, a desire, if not actually to dominate, at least to save the work or the workers from trouble and possible disaster. "It's so much easier to do it myself," says the fond parent to his child: and that is true, but fatal if the child is to learn to help himself and to be self-reliant in the true manner of a human [5/6] person. On the one hand there is the grown man, often with all the difficult outlook--the desires, obsessions and instability--of the adolescent: on the other, the man of culture and education, with an experience which is in some form inherited, and often gained in a hard school, who is also in the last resort the one who is responsible for his mission.

Experiments are being made, and must continue to be made. Needless to say, the right person must be chosen, as far as may be possible, for such experiments. The right amount of responsibility must be delegated at the right moment; the right lessons given, and the right oversight and advice. There is no room for the attitude which would allow people just to get along as best they can and make a mess of it. In any case, they may, probably will, "make a mess of it", over and over again: and not only of the duty and responsibility, but of themselves as well! Who can really, and invariably, be sure of all the right moments and advice and so on?--or of the right choice of persons? But much can be done by remembering our own childhood and adolescence, our lessons, our early responsibilities and mistakes: the time when we felt capable of doing some job and then bungled it; the times when we wished we had someone who would give us some timely advice or warning, or show us the way to do things. Another thing which helps a great deal is to look carefully for persons who are themselves trusted and respected by their own people: and to let the people choose those whom they believe to be worthy of trust and responsibility, so long as they have come qualification for the work. The missionary may often be mistaken in his choice through lack of knowledge of a person's reputation amongst his own people; or through imagining that some favourite of his own must be acceptable to them. Of course the people may sometimes be mistaken; but not so often as the missionary who ignores their opinion and their wishes. Above all we must cultivate the family life and spirit in the Church and the congregations in which we are all children of the one Father, and brothers in Christ. The mission priest does not have to relinquish his position as "father" of his people, but to deepen it, widen it and adjust it to the needs of his growing "children".


Changes have come about in other ways. One of them lies in the missionary staffing of missions. Where once, as we have observed, the priest, and perhaps his wife, were the only Europeans in the mission, and between them they organised and directed every side of its life, now there are often specialists for various branches of the work. There will be a principal or headmaster of the central school, and perhaps other white teachers as well. There may be a doctor and nurses; a treasurer, or estate manager, a Mothers' Union [6/7] worker--and so on. This situation again calls for new and right relationships: the sharing of responsibilities, deference to expert knowledge, or even to wishes and tastes in matters which are not vital at all. The relationships of European missionaries are not always easy, nor, alas, are they always right. Yet their united service for our Lord, their common worship, their friendship and courtesy to each other, their leisure, their social life together, their life within their families or houses, are all observed by the people amongst whom their life is lived and their work done. They are also discussed, and may be imitated for good or ill. Not only are they a powerful witness to the reality of our Christian affirmations, but no less powerful in the carrying out of our Lord's work. There can be few greater hindrances to the life and activity of a mission--as of a household or a parish--than a habit of fretfulness and complaint, of thoughtlessness or tactlessness, of selfishness or sloth, on the part of even one in such a company.

It is here, as elsewhere, that the little things--details which, viewed in themselves with honest detachment and humour, are quite unimportant--count so much. As Sir Ronald Storrs said, "Any fool can put up with an earthquake!" Exactly--but the earthquakes are not so frequent as the lesser upheavals of jealousy or selfishness or irritability: yet they can be as devastating to our work. Every mission worker, whatever his or her responsibilities, needs to be on guard within against such habits or temperament as arise from pride or self-centredness: and to remain truly and deeply dedicated to our Lord. Those who have, or can cultivate, a sense of humour, will find life the easier and more pleasant.

To the head of a mission it may be said that difficult relationships often arise from failure to delegate responsibility to those who should have it: for everyone should have some work for which he is truly responsible, and which, within the necessary bounds, he can carry out in his own way. Otherwise he should in all probability not be where he is. On the other hand, those who have special responsibilities should realise that their particular department is only a dePARTment of the whole; and that too much individuality and aloofness and dislike of interference may spoil the cohesion and unity of the whole mission. It is here that the Staff Meeting, as well as the less formal discussions and social life of a mission, are so important. Every one should, ideally, know what the others are doing; and take an interest in others' jobs, and see where each can help all. Much has been said of team-spirit; and a mission is a place where it should be seen and experienced at its best.


Unless he has a layman especially for this work, the mission priest today is caught up in a State system of primary education [7/8] which makes great demands upon his time, and his mental and physical energy. Gone are the days the "good old days" he may sometimes mistakenly think--when the missionary established a primitive school almost where he liked, subject only to the needs of the people and the goodwill of the Chief. Any Christian man or woman, who knew rather more of the "three R's" than the rest, was appointed as teacher. The school-room was probably the church in the first instance; and later the simplest kind of building of poles and mud with a thatched roof. Its furniture and equipment were also most primitive: perhaps a bench or chair and table; a blackboard; slates--long since relegated to the realm of past days--were cheap; books were few, and apparatus might or might not be available.

The miracle was that somehow, in spite of all, the children learned something: and became the older teachers, priests and church leaders of today. One often wondered how it happened! The emphasis was naturally upon religious instruction. Many children made little if any progress. A "trained" teacher might have passed Standard Three, and thereafter gained in a special but very short course a "Vernacular Certificate". On his visits to each outstation the priest would spend several days, occupied in pastoral ministrations and examining and assisting the school. During those days he would see the people in the villages around; preach in the open air perhaps; celebrate the Holy Communion in the simple church at an altar decorated with coloured clays and wild flowers; baptise, marry, visit the sick, hear confessions for hours on end, and deal with cases of discipline, and so forth. There was much to be done; but there was little if any outside pressure brought to bear upon the way in which he used his time.

Now all this has gradually changed: and, it must be said, changed in many ways for the better. It is not the new system which is at fault, although there are naturally criticisms which can be made. The main difficulty is the lack of missionaries, and the means to support them. When the Government takes an increasing responsibility for African education, and makes grants towards it, and pays the teachers, and aids the schools in other ways, it is natural and inevitable that organisation and efficiency and standards of operation should be demanded. All this is to the good. But it means that there are more and more returns to be made, forms to fill, applications for this and that to be forwarded, inspectors' reports to read and act upon--and so on almost without end.

A mission priest in these days could spend all his time on school work of this nature alone, if he has no assistance. For although the "paper-work" is vast, it is not all. Many priests rightly feel that they now have to give more time than is right to educational [8/9] matters. Many do not feel qualified to superintend schools, particularly as the numbers of classes and of trained teachers increase. The demands of so many properly-spaced visits to each school each year largely destroy the old, leisurely trek; and at the outstations the school tends to overshadow the church in its demands upon time and assistance. The mission priest, if he is also the Superintendent of Schools in his district, has become almost buried in a heap of irksome office-work and routine, while his pastoral work appears to be diminishing.

It may be observed here that mission priests of today vary a good deal in their reactions to these circumstances. Some frankly dislike the educational side of the work--not the fact that there are mission schools, but that they are expected to cope with them--and would gladly surrender it to someone else, although perhaps not the Government. They try to avoid as much of the clerical work as possible, and to resist the inroads on their time of returns, grant claims, and so on. This attitude does not improve relationships with Government officials--nor, be it added, with diocesan ones!--and sometimes jeopardises a school, or the grants which may be earned by the mission as a whole. Others plod along doing their best, convinced of the importance of the schools; not less irked, but conscientiously doing their part. A few may be outstandingly keen and capable in this direction. Most mission priests probably think wistfully of all they might be doing if only they could be relieved of this particular burden. None can be satisfied with things as they are.

It would seem that the story of the Church and education will have gradually to take the same course as it has in the older countries. Gradually, as is already happening, the Government will assume more and more responsibility for education at all grades: build more schools, train more teachers, supply better equipment. The church will not be able to compete, as already it cannot compete where the Government runs schools in urban areas. Probably she should not attempt to do so. She will have to retain under her aegis and control certain strategic works of education: teacher training colleges, secondary schools, some primary schools and special schools: and rely for her influence in Government schools upon the clergy and Christian teachers, the village and town churches and Christian leaders.

But the process may be gradual: and valuable years may be used, and even what seems inevitable be postponed, if only more trained lay educationalists could be found to make this work of superintendence, with all it involves, their own. Not only would the present work be done, in many respects, more efficiently and thoroughly; but the mission priests would be more free to go about their pastoral duties, strengthening the congregations, instructing [9/10] Christian leaders, and thus preparing for the next great changes or those gradual changes as and when they come.
The question is: Where are those qualified teachers to take over the work of superintendence? There is no doubt of the benefit to the schools in Districts where lay superintendents are now at work; but these are few.


Something should be said in reference to the indigenous ministry. There have been African priests for many years, who have done good and lasting work for God and the conversion and pastoral care of their people. The older ones, many of whom are now retiring, or have died, were by no means well educated by the standards of today: but what education they had, together with their age and standing and the rightful prestige of the priesthood, made them respected and followed.

Now there are younger men being ordained, usually after some years as teachers, and four years in a theological college. They are better educated and better trained, although their education does not as a rule place them too far above those amongst whom they will work. Are they better men--better Christians? There appears to be no reason to doubt that they compare favourably with their predecessors, although there are many more hindrances to their work and temptations in their personal lives than perhaps there used to be. The old customs of their people and the old beliefs of their race, once hindrances and temptations insofar as they were contrary to Christian faith and morals, are today more loosely observed and believed in. But there are now all the temptations of a materialistic age and civilisation to be endured and overcome, besides the lurking remnants of old beliefs and of the ever-present moral weaknesses to which the African is in some respect particularly prone.

Here, again, the problem of right relationships must and does arise. The older priests, many of whom attained to positions of responsibility in what were virtually "independent" cures, did not lay claim to much authority or look much for "independence", or even responsibility. In all probability most of them were content to work under the guidance of a European priest, if his yoke was not too heavy. But gradually this, too, is changing; and rightly so. The younger African looks forward--and, it must be admitted, sometimes presses forward unduly--to the time when he will not be under the direct tutelage of a European: when he will have a cure of souls "of his own". He does not even always find it easy to work under a fellow-African priest of more mature years and experience. Does not every young curate at home, if he is worth his salt, look forward in the same manner? Is there not a natural, and a right, kind of ambition here?

[11] What the European mission priest is called upon to do more than ever before is to share to the fullest possible degree with his African brother priest the prayers and labours of the ministry: its problems--many of which only the African can recognise and solve--and its plans: the worship, the instruction, the discipline, the raising of money and the spending of it. More and more the European missionary must "decrease"--and decrease with deliberation and foresight, as well as with humility and expectancy. Just as an ageing farmer may gradually hand over to his son an increasing responsibility for the running of their farm, and remain more in the background to lend his aid and give advice as it is required, so the European missionary must willingly hand over privileges and responsibilities which have hitherto been almost exclusively his. There are, there will continue to be, mistakes, misunderstandings and muddles: but at least there will not be ultimate failure, which is bound to follow if we cling too tenaciously and long, for whatever theoretical or practical reasons, to complete control of grudging and doubting delegation. Failure is assured, in the long run, if the African priest and leading laymen are not taken into our confidence and trusted and instructed and enabled to take greater measures of responsibility. Things will not always be done as we like them done: there will be changes in emphasis and in custom; irritations to bear patiently and delays to endure and tangles to try to unravel. But can we deny that the right way, the way of advance, is to take sane, "calculated" risks (as it may often seem) in these matters? It is not a matter of mere expediency, but of right development in a young Church.

At the same time we must endeavour to enter sympathetically into the multitudinous frustrations and tensions of Africa, and try at least in the Church to avoid or to ease them. If the Christian Church is really to continue to grip Africa, it must become in its local manifestations "African"--as well as remaining One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. Only Africans themselves can bring this about rightly, naturally, sanely: European attempts have usually been dismal failures. The European missionary still has the means and the opportunity of influencing and watching over such development. If he tries to stop it, the hour will pass, and he will be left aside: and the Church may also be set aside. It is not a matter for doubtful lamentation, but for hope and faith, for prayer and co-operation. The Church must give the example by her own practice--as indeed she has already done in many respects--which will influence the whole of life in Africa. Much of what has been said refers equally to the African teacher, especially if he is amongst the still comparatively few who have passed through secondary school and/or university.


[12] The "decrease" of European missionaries, whether priests or lay-people, refers not to their number but to their character and manner of life and work. Africa still undoubtedly needs European missionaries who will come now as elder brothers--not like the one in the parable of the Prodigal, but with the true spirit of brotherhood. It needs them also to come "for life", or at least for the best years of their lives: not for five years, or one or two "tours" (wretched word!) to get experience. The experience they gain will probably be of great use to them when they return to work in their home country: but they will have left their mission just when increasing experience of African languages and ways might begin to bear fruit. The older Churches must not give the impression to their young men and women that they should be "lent" to the younger Churches overseas, rather than given. The work is one, after all.

And the kind of person the mission needs? Always, but now perhaps as never before, people whom divine grace has given, or can give, a quality of self-effacement, which goes to work quietly to lead and to influence, but not to dictate. Then, persons who will learn an African language: for another danger of mission work now is that of the common use of English at the centre, which too often leads to inability to converse with, and thus enter more fully into the lives of, the simpler and more backward people on the circumference. The Church ought to be enabled to support new missionaries for a period of training and language study in some mission immediately prior to their taking up a permanent post: but, to the loss of all concerned, this is by no means always possible. Let no one imagine that because of many changes in missionary life and work, training of some sort is no longer necessary. On the contrary, in many ways it is more necessary than ever; and training is not only professional or technical, but many-sided: and includes above all the grasp of that knowledge of God in Christ which should ensure right relationship both vertical and horizontal.


There is lastly the priest (in particular) who is called upon to minister both to people of his own and of other races. Here the mission should become increasingly an integral part of the parish; with the African priest, if there is one, the assistant priest and colleague of the rector of the parish. It may be, of course, that the situation is reversed, in that the mission priest looks after one or more small congregations of European people in his area.

Where there is a "mission" attached to a "parish", the parish should be progressively looking upon the mission as a part of its responsibility: and there are as a rule people who are ready and [12/13] willing to foster this relationship. There are parishes where such a position exists; and it is a fruitful one for all. There may be, in country parishes, mission outstations with schools to be superintended; and it has to be recognised that the rector has to spend a good deal of time in visiting them and fulfilling his function as superintendent, as well as of priest. It would be a happy thing if some lay person in the parish could undertake this school work: but lay-people with time, let alone inclination, to do this are rare. There is in every case a fairly obvious limit upon the number and distances of such outstations that can be effectively cared for. This depends largely upon the geography of the area. But it is not always realised that a missionary superintendent has not only to visit the outstations, but to keep records and accounts, pay teachers, supply equipment, and so on and so forth. All this entails a great deal of office work, as has been remarked already; and most of it cannot very well be delegated. Therefore, while it is the right aim that all priests should minister to all people alike, it is clear that, except in the case of some town missions which will gradually develop into parochial status, the African mission work is still of a largely specialised nature.


We have tried to give an over-all picture of the main features of present day missionary work in one part of Central Africa, with emphasis upon the changing scene. How can it be summarised?

1. While conditions and methods are changing considerably, the essentials do not change. The Gospel to be proclaimed, the Word to be preached, the Sacraments to be dispensed, are all the same; and never more urgently needed. Preaching, instruction and pastoral care may be subject to new insights and methods; but they do not change fundamentally. Features in Eucharistic and others forms of worship may undergo some superficial change. But the unchanging elements anchor us firmly to the One Faith in the One Church of the One Jesus Christ Who is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.

2. The Prospective Missionary has to change the ideas of a former generation about many lesser things. Preaching under trees, encounters with lions when walking or sleeping under the tropical sky, and many other adventures and romantic experiences which spiced the addresses or the writings of an older generation of missionaries, are not so common now. And the human situation has changed considerably. Many Christians now were baptised in infancy; and the age-long problem of nominal Christianity, so well known in the West, is now asserting itself in Africa, and calls for special attention. The Church having hitherto provided almost all the opportunities for education, there is now [13/14] a common looking for the advantages of education without much caring whether or not it is Christian. There arises the old danger of people trying to exploit the Church, to exploit God, for what may be purely human and temporal ends: and that is the sin of our age in Western Christendom which cannot but become a temptation to the African.

3. While indigenous priests and teachers and other leaders are increasing both in numbers and ability, there are not, it must be admitted, yet signs of any great advance in mental and moral stability and responsibility. This is not a matter for great wonder; and certainly not for despair or cynicism. It has to be recognised that the African is trying--with remarkable success--to rise in a matter of sixty years or so to a position which is approaching, at least outwardly, that which the West has taken centuries to attain. This revolution is spiritual, mental, physical, social, economic and political: in fact every facet of human life is involved, with an industrial revolution thrown in for good measure. Would we be less bewildered, uncouth sometimes, self-seeking often, self-reliant before the time, unstable, immature, and whatever else the unthinking may call the younger African of today? Is it not true that Africa needs European missionary leadership as perhaps never before?--albeit such leadership has to be exercised in a new way. It must be more ready than ever to teach and advise, to suggest, to be ready to give opportunities, to be tactful, to take risks over human failure or lack of drive. It must above all give friendship, not in any sentimental sense, but such as leads to solid, lasting, fruitful human relationships in every sphere of life. Dictation, coercion and driving will succeed less now than they ever seemed to do. If we realise the difficulty of all this, we also see the necessity of it.

4. The European missionary must still come; and preferably not as a passing visitor for a few years, but as a "settler" who is prepared (as far as he can see at the time) to devote his whole life to the particular work to which he is called. Temperamentally he must be ready (as a priest in almost any place) to be patient, cheerful, ready to support the weak, to take responsibility and to give it; to accept human disappointments and try to turn them to advantage; to accept many seemingly alien duties--keeping of accounts, filling up forms (but perhaps not more of these than in Britain!), superintending schools--as part and parcel of his ministry, and as pastoral opportunities very often. At least he will have variety, and little chance of settling down on his lees: and what priest worth his salt wishes to do that?

The same may be said of the lay missionary, whether man or woman.

5. We must stress the need for real vocations. Every priest is [14/15] ordained to the ministry of the Catholic Church, not to the Church in one diocese, or one province. God may call him to any part of the world. The younger Churches are producing candidates for Holy Orders, both African and European, in remarkable numbers at the present time: but we have still to call upon the Church in Britain. Christian lay-people with almost any kind of training are needed in the missions, and so, of course, is the wherewithal to support them: for often there is no Government salary grant available for teachers, for example, beyond a certain number in each school. There is work for those who have been called to the married state; and also--perhaps rather more--for those who are single and intend (as far as they know) to remain so.

There is a deep need for fostering the Religious Life. Very much of the work in the missions could best be begun and continued by, or handed over to, Religious Communities of men or women. Schools, hospitals, orphanages, a great deal of pastoral work in the country and, more particularly, in the many African townships which are growing apace, need Religious to give them stability and continuity. Religious Communities for men need more lay Religious, who may be artisans or professionally trained.

Where can all these be found? Where can we look for them, but in "the rock from whence we were hewn"? It cannot be that English Churchmen and women, priests, teachers, nurses, doctors, social welfare workers, farmers, carpenters, clerks, mechanics, and all the rest, have lost their sense of adventure, their concern for the peoples of other lands, nor, above all, the voice which calls at all times and in all ages to spread the Gospel and the Church which is founded upon it. Before the Church in Africa can become firmly rooted, self-supporting, and standing "on its own''', it must have many more of the best people that the old Church can give. They have not been lacking in the past. There appears in these days to be some drying up of the supply. Revival at home has usually followed generosity abroad: and we believe that this may still be so. In faith and hope, let's put it to the test once more!


If I were to address my African friends--whether priests, teachers, or other leaders in the missions--I should want to tell them of the importance of at least three great things.

1. Trust in their European missionary brethren. Some of our Africans appears to be losing this; and sometimes speak and act as though they believe that the missionary from overseas is here for his own advantage, or to "govern" the missions.

Now there are probably few missionaries who could not find a better job and greater comfort from the purely worldy point of view elsewhere than in a mission in Central Africa! There are, it [15/16] must be admitted, a few who may mistake the purpose of their ministry. They usually learn better by experience, or leave the mission. The main part of this pamphlet is designed to help future comers to avoid some of the present pitfalls.

If trust is to be mutual, it must be found on both sides. It is the basis of any healthy and fruitful, as well as happy, relationship. Without it none of us can do anything in the mission field.

2. Trustworthiness. If the European missionary is to be trusted by the African, he must be worthy of trust. The same applies to the African. There sometimes appear to be few Africans yet who can be truly relied upon. Besides lacking, through no fault of their own, the ability to lead, to organise, to deal with more complicated financial matters, they too often lack moral stamina. They fail to stand up to their own people when necessary; they sometimes work for their own advantage; some appear to have little regard for the truth. They desire responsibility and independence but appear unwilling to learn, to accept guidance and advice, or to be in any sense controlled.

Much of this is understandable. But if an "African" Church is to evolve, it can only evolve slowly and somewhat painfully, through African leadership which is prepared, even when given greater responsibility, to continue to accept guidance at any rate for years to come. The important thing is that this help and direction must be designed to help forward development, and not to retard it; and it must be accepted as such. Unwillingness to accept it retards rather than advances the natural desire of Africans to stand on their own feet. Tragic failures, whether moral or pastoral or financial, do occur. Africans are not naturally incapable; but their lack of long traditions and training should lead them to "hasten slowly". To seek and to accept advice and help is a sign of humility; it may not be easy; but in most cases it is essential. Moreover it is required on the part of the European as well as of the African: and African leaders can often save European missionaries from many mistakes, as well as giving them positive advice on numerous subjects upon which they, on their side, are ignorant.

3. Moral Courage. We all need more of this: but it may be one thing above many others the African, qua African, often appears to lack. It is not only so in temptations of the flesh, or of acquisitiveness, and so on. It appears in such matters as his being too easily influenced by relatives, or by people of importance such as chiefs or headmen, or by local opinion. After all, many a priest in England has been too dependent upon his local "headman"--the squire, or the patron of the living! How much we all need the grace of God, and the help of the good example and prayers which we can give each other. That is the point!

E. D. K. Wood

TWO years after he was ordained, Archdeacon E. D. K. Wood went out to what was then the Diocese of Southern Rhodesia. His nearly 30 years' service there have covered a period of particularly rapid change and he is well qualified to point to the lessons this has for the Church. Today in Central Africa, as elsewhere, God is calling us to new and high adventure. This pamphlet aims to help us to fit ourselves for such a calling. It has a special urgency for those called to personal overseas service but its message is for all who by their baptism are committed to extending Christ's Kingdom.


H. B. Skinner & Co., Ltd., S.E.5.

Project Canterbury