It is perhaps not unfitting that it was on Epiphany (6 January 2019) that the great Lamin Sanneh breathed his last in this life. In his life and scholarship the light of Christ was revealed to many. He passed on only yesterday, yet already he is
We grieve, but we do not grieve as those without hope.
Born in The Gambia in West Africa, raised as a Muslim, after his conversion to Christ he became a preeminent Christian scholar and missiologist. If you haven’t read his books or articles or heard him speak, you should. His books are widely available and you can still find him on youtube. Here are two of my favorite of his quotes:
“People receive new ideas only in terms of the ideas they already have.”
“Conversion is the turning of ourselves to God, and that means all of ourselves without leaving anything thing behind or outside. But that also means not replacing what is there with something else. Conversion is a refocusing of the mental life and its cultural/social underpinning and of our feelings, affections, and instincts, in the light of what God has done in Jesus.”
~ Lamin Sanneh, Whose Religion Is Christianity? The Gospel beyond the West (2003).
If you’re a buyer and reader of books, that text is worth acquiring. But if you only buy or read one of his books, I recommend that you start with Translating the Message: The Missionary Impact on Culture (1st edition, 1989; 2nd edition, revised, 2009). Though you’ll run across a lot of books before you find anything that would surpass his Disciples of All Nations: Pillars of World Christianity (2008).
Professor Lamin Sanneh (24 May 1942 — 6 January 6 2019), may your memory be eternal and may you rest in peace until you rise again in the Resurrection.
Update (15 January 2019): Christianity Today has just published a collection of tributes, “Remembering Lamin Sanneh, the World’s Leading Expert on Christianity and Islam in Africa.” This article would be a great place to start to learn more about this great man. Also … anyone interested in World Christianity should read not only Prof. Sanneh’s works, but also should listen to the voices of those who give him tribute here.