The Story of Philip
An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To reflect upon the story of Philip and the movement of the Christian message to Africa.
Preparation and materials
- Have available a world map and a map of Africa.
- More information about Africa is available at: http://www.kids-world-travel-guide.com/africa-facts.html
- Show the world map and point out Africa.
Inform the students of the following facts.
- There are 54 countries in Africa.
- There are more than 1.1 billion people living in Africa.
- The largest country in Africa is Algeria, but the most populous is Nigeria, where more than 185 million people live.
- The smallest country in Africa is Seychelles.
- The largest island in Africa is Madagascar.
- The longest river in Africa (and the world) is the Nile, which runs from Egypt to Ethiopia and Tanzania.
- Show the map of Africa and point out the position of Ethiopia.
Christians believe that a story in the Bible speaks of the start of Christianity in Africa. They believe that the first African Christian came from Ethiopia, where he was employed as the queen’s treasurer (in other words, he looked after the queen’s money). Like all of the first Christians, this man was also Jewish. He had travelled all the way from Ethiopia in his chariot to attend a festival in Jerusalem.
On his way home, he was reading one of the books of the Old Testament. Like many people, he found it really hard going. It was at this point that Philip approached the Ethiopian’s chariot. Philip was one of Jesus’ twelve apostles. Being a good teacher, Philip noticed that the man was stuck.
‘Do you understand what you’re reading?’ he asked.
‘How can I?’ the man replied. ‘I don't have a teacher.’
Philip immediately offered his services for free. It was obvious that the man was very rich, but Philip was more interested in telling him about Jesus than in making money.
‘Then climb up into the chariot and help me!’ said the Ethiopian.
So, the chariot was transformed into a mobile classroom. Philip explained in a way that the man could understand that the writer of the book was really talking about Jesus. Briefly, Philip told the man all about Jesus, about his birth and his death. He also told the Ethiopian that he could become a follower of Jesus by being baptized.
At this point, the chariot passed a lake. Philip could have suggested that the man be baptized there and then. In fact, it was the Ethiopian who said, ‘Look, here’s some water. Why don’t I get baptized?’
He ordered the chariot driver to stop. Together, he and Philip, who cared nothing about getting wet, went into the river and the man was baptized as a follower of Jesus. The Ethiopian was so overjoyed at his baptism that, without saying another word to Philip, he jumped on his chariot and set off back to Ethiopia to tell the people of his country about Jesus.
- Interestingly, there are now people travelling from Africa to different parts of the world, telling people the story of Jesus. Today, however, the situation is somewhat reversed - some African Christians are coming to European countries like Britain and France to teach people here about Jesus.
Time for reflection
Thank you for the country of Africa,
For the rich heritage and diverse people.
We are aware that there is much beauty in Africa.
We are also aware that there is suffering and poverty.
Please bring peace to the parts of Africa divided by war and trouble.
Please bring hope to those in need.