This is a simple question that at times fails to yield a simple answer. Religion amongst many Christians is something to be defended and argued about; something to write about and earn academic qualifications, end of the story. We know what God did for Daniel, what He did for Joseph; we know all these stories except our own story. What have we to say a about God, what has He done for us lately?
African Traditional religions are not religions that need scholars to expound them, to defend and to argue about. Adherents to these religions have experiences and their own stories to tell. Even the books that are now being written in trying to delve into the philosophy of Africa Traditional religions are at best an endeavor to put into writing the experiences of those who take these religions seriously. The early missionaries regarded these religions as inferior since they were not codified and systematically written down. But these people knew what to do when there was no rain, they knew what to when there was sickness at home. They had seen and experienced relief and deliverance through the performance of certain traditional rites.
Christianity came and spoke about heaven a place prepared by God for His children. Christianity offered a way out of this troubled planet and this somehow destroyed the desire for divine intervention in earthly matters and exigencies of life. Christianity became more and more a religion of the hereafter caring little if anything for the present. The introduction of heaven to the African mind brought excitement since this phenomenon was conspicuous by its absence in their religions.
Conversion meant leaving your old life of seeking God’s intervention in this present and starting a journey to heaven. To the surprise and shock of the early missionaries many Africans accepted Christianity but retained their African religions as articulated in their culture. A blending of the old with the new took place yielding to what is known as syncretism. African accessed their religions for daily intervention and relied on Christianity for the anticipated joys of the hereafter. Today African Initiated Churches exist as a home for the troubled African mind, faced with the problems of today and yet desiring the joys of tomorrow. In these churches people find healing and deliverance while looking forward to glorious future.
This is where most Christians have missed the point thereby making Christianity a laughing stock. The Bible is full of stories of people who experienced God’s divine intervention. The Bible in essence is a book of such miraculous interventions. Psalm 23 known and recited by many Christians is an experience of a shepherd, what God meant to him, his own story. “Come taste as see that the Lord is Good” is an invitation that many Christians have yet to experience. The stories in the Bible serve as an illustration of what God desires to do for us today. It is when these stories are replicated in our own lives that the Bible becomes the living Word.
If the Lord who delivered Daniel fails to deliver poor me, then maybe He never delivered Daniel. Yes Christianity believes in the hereafter but the belief in the existence of heaven should be evidenced by the heavenly atmosphere God brings to those who believe in Him. When our homes become heaven, those living in such homes are ready to believe in heaven as a place that does exist. What has God done for you lately? That is your own story, tell it. It is just as sacred as that of Daniel.