Reports from the Field: Surprising Surveys

The ASB Editorial Team

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A research survey of 8,041 African Christians in three countries asked questions about Christian leadership and Christian organizations. One of the questions also inquired about their reading habits:  what do they read, how much do they read, and who are their favorite authors.

The survey of literate Christians in Kenya, Central African Republic, and Angola showed that they wanted to read and did indeed read African writers. However, when they read Christian literature, they mostly read American and British authors. Why?

In papers recently presented at the American Missiology Society Conference, the researchers said that both distribution and promotion were part of the answer. Books by these western authors were more available and were also more promoted. However, the important conclusion for the Africa Study Bible is that African Christian did want to read and would read work by African Christian writers, if their books were available.

Favorite books were often in the categories of motivation, self-help, and practical living. The reports cites the following: “Again and again both in the religious and non-religious writers, themes of power, success, and human flourishing make their appearance against the backdrop of struggles with painful childhoods, poverty, and the challenges of modern life. Exemplars of success against such backdrop are particularly attractive – as with the Number 1 favorite author of Kenyans, Ben Carson. A high proportion of these authors are, quite apart from their writing, famously successful in other arenas of life.”

 

Putting ideas and concepts in the context of African life is important to these readers. “Contextualization” is a word frequently used, and we believe that the practical nature of more than 1,000 Application Notes, the contextualization through more than 500 African proverbs and stories, and the relating of the Bible to Africa through the 200 Touch Points will help not just these survey respondents but Africans across the continent understand that the Bible is applicable to Africa. In addition, the 50 Articles and 70 Learn Notes zero in on practical living, self-help and motivation, a theme that is repeated over and over.

Thus, the editorial team for the Africa Study Bible is highly encouraged by these survey results. We believe that the contribution from more than 250 African writers will result in a work that is both needed and wanted.