“Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” … Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. (Acts 8:36-38)
Behold, another gentile receives Jesus Christ – a great enlightening revelation that brings lasting joy! The breeze of the Epiphany season continues to blow gently and draw men and women to salvation. The commemoration of the revelation of Jesus Christ to gentiles now comes alive among the Africans with the story of the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8:26-39. Was it called a dark continent? Still described as third world, “good in nothing else but making noise, dancing, marrying many wives, alcoholism, witchcraft, pretending in church, jealousy, fighting and complaining of bad leadership”; more description: “the black man is a symbol of poverty, mental inferiority, laziness… [is] born a beggar, grows a beggar, falls sick a beggar and dies a beggar.” Is Africa cursed?
True or false, these are descriptions of men; but what is the view of God the Creator? To this Africa, the words of Isaiah 9:2 are now directed figuratively: ‘The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.’ For our evidence, let us visit the experience of the Ethiopian eunuch: For two reasons he could not ‘draw near to God’ – he could not enter the Jewish temple because he was a gentile, and because he was a eunuch. Call him an African bearing the descriptions above, yet he still made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, perhaps to just worship God at the temple gate. However, his darkness was not because of this kind of alienation by men, but the lack of the enlightenment that Jesus brings. Now he saw the great light. The fact that this African received the miracle of salvation is encouragement that there is hope for this continent even today.
The eunuch’s experience was dramatic: Philip was brought to him by the Holy Spirit – Jesus was calling him somehow, even as He called the apostles directly; after the sweet fellowship that ended in his conversion and baptism, Philip disappeared! The diligence with which the eunuch pursued his reading, the earnestness with which he inquired of Philip, and the promptness with which he asked for baptism – all testify to the lofty nature of his character, that we should emulate. This saying is true: ‘Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.’
It is also good to know Africans are shining on all the six continents as stars in sports, great leaders and executives, journalists, professors in universities and even preachers. There is some light shining on Africa; but the great light that should be celebrated is the light of Jesus who calls everyone to follow Him. He may use different circumstances, but Jesus is clearly calling all, ‘Come, follow me’, and you do well to hear and heed His voice.