A century ago, a period of stunning Christian growth began. Africa's independent churches claim John Chilembwe as a symbol of a new native Christianity, free from its paternalistic and missionary roots.
Christianity has a long tradition of encouraging people to meditate on the lives of the saints. That tradition has foundered somewhat in this egalitarian age, in which we resist the notion that some lives are worthy of emulation. We have also been schooled by modern journalism and psychology to suspect that virtue is never unblemished.
In the 19th century, European and North American missionaries spanned the world, bringing the light of the gospel into what they thought were the dark corners of heathendom. In many regions, though, the natives did not react as the newcomers expected.