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African Churches Use Mobile Phone to Ring up Growth in Members - Kenyan News
Nairobi, Feb 24, 2010 (Ecumenical News International/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX) — A mobile phone suspended on a belt round the waist, or from the neck, is a common sight among members of church congregations in Africa. Now, church leaders are heaping praise on mobile phones, sometimes called cell phones, because they say the instruments help congregations grow.
Mobile phone use increased rapidly in Africa about 10 years ago.
At that time, however, some Christians on the continent criticised
the phones for being “marks of materialism”. Now, that
The bishop says Kenya’s mobile phone boom is inspiring creativity
among Christians. They are sharing Bible verses through text messaging
services (SMS). Young people are using the phones to discuss religious
matters on social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, and downloading
Gospel tunes to use as ring tones.
“ If there is a preacher the congregations consider important elsewhere, we connect them to the pastor through this means,” Kivuli told Ecumenical News International. “We have at times linked our churches to overseas preachers.” Africa’s mobile phone subscribers total nearly 300 million, according to latest International Telecommunication Union statistics. The figure is projected to double by 2020.
South Africa, where about 80 percent of the estimated nation’s
50 million population are Christians, leads the continent’s mobile
phone subscription level. Nigeria is second, with Kenya third.
We get money through the mobile phones once we give out the account
details. We have realised there are many Kenyans who do not earn a monthly
salary. So, to facilitate their offering, we use the money transfer service,” says
the Rev. Wellington Mutiso, an evangelical church pastor and general
secretary of the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya.
“ If we do not see them in church [after their conversion], we call them or send an SMS. The response is immediate,” he says. “I can assure you they [the phones] are helping the Church to grow.” At the same time, money transfer services are providing an extra way for churches to raise relief funds. In January, for example, following the earthquake in Haiti, the Catholic Church in Kenya appealed for donations for Haiti to be sent through one of the phone money transfer services.
“ The response has been good. We managed to collect 500 000 [Kenya] shillings (US$6500) in a short time. The money was sent to us through the mobile phones. This is a beautiful service,” says Wanyoike.
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