The African Initiated Churches (AICs) in many parts of Southern Africa represent up to 50 per cent and more of African Christianity. They have often been negatively characterised as 'sects' of a dubious Christian nature or as 'separatists', growing mainly by virtue of African reaction to the mission endeavours of Western denominations. In-depth studies appearing in this series, however, convincingly illustrate that in terms of growth rates, indigenized evangelisation, missionary campaigns, and ecclesiastical contextualization, the AICs can no longer be regarded as a peripheral phenomenon. They belong to the mainstream of African Christianity and have developed innovative mission methods of their own which can only rate as a major contribution to the expanding Church in Africa.While the individual essays focus on AIC leadership, worship, sacraments, healing, dialogue with practitioners of African Traditional Religion, and earthkeeping, the text as a whole portrays the richness of AIC life and faith. The composite picture reflects the attraction this form of inculturated Christianity holds for African people - an attraction which stimulates recruitment and rapid church expansion.
Marthinus L. Daneel, the series editor and the author of this volume of selected essays, has studied and served the Zimbabwean AICs for more than 40 years. Recognised in academic circles as one of the leading interpreters of AICs, he has, as 'folk-theologian', developed a narrative style of theologising which has enhanced greater understanding of this phenomenon. In his 'story-telling' the main characters under consideration invariably speak for themselves. He has published widely and is the author of African Earthkeepers: Interfaith mission in earth-care, African Earthkeepers: Environmental mission and liberation in Christian perspective, African Christian Outreach volume 1, all published in the same African Initiatives in Christian Mission Series.