Far-flung faith

In the 19th century, Christianity beganto spread across West Africa less as the result of formal missionary endeavors directed from Europe than because of the enthusiasm of ordinary indigenous believers fascinated by the new religion. As Diarmaid MacCulloch notes, "In Sierra Leone, many Krio women highly gifted in commerce were seized by enthusiasm for the Christian faith. On their far travels out of the colony, they marketed Christianity as successfully as all their other wares, like the Syrian merchants of Central Asia long before them." In itself, this story of the determined Krio women is of no unique significance, but with its glancing analogy to events long ago on a continent far away, the passage gives an excellent idea of the virtues (and quirks) of MacCulloch's awe-inspiring history of Christianity.


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