"…to the praise of the glory of His grace…" Ephesians 1:6

Pray this week for Africa

Africa’s Hot Spots
These warrant passionate prayer:

1 The Great Lakes War. This became Africa’s first major international conflict. Tensions between the Hutu and Tutsi peoples in Rwanda and Burundi have led to civil wars and periodic genocidal massacres over the past four decades. The Rwanda genocide of 1994 triggered a chain reaction of war and waves of refugees affecting surrounding countries. This interlocked with the wars already being fought in Angola, Sudan and between Ethiopia and Eritrea. The impact on Congo has been devastating for much of the country and continues to affect millions of people. Pray for:

a) African and international peacemakers in their arduous, thankless task and for resolution of the underlying causes of war.

b) The warring factions and their leaders to end their fighting and for peace to be restored.

c) The millions of refugees to be adequately provided for and ultimately resettled. Many NGOs are involved.

d) Recovery through repentance of perpetrators, justice for the offended, forgiveness given and received and the long process of reconstruction for ruined lives, families and countries.

2 The Horn of Africa was the scene of terrible events in the 1990s.

a) Somalia descended into anarchy with humiliating failures for the UN and the USA in finding solutions. Pray that the Somalis may find workable solutions to the chaos they have created.

b) Ethiopia and Eritrea’s unexpected, unnecessary war in 1998-2000 between two largely Christian nations led to heavy casualties. An uneasy cease-fire prevailed in 2001, but lasting peace, restoration of trust and reopening of trade are needed.

3 The West African debacle of Liberia’s civil wars in the last decade has resulted in the immense destruction of lives, property and mass exploitation of children as soldiers. This conflict spilled over to Sierra Leone and Guinea with even worse atrocities and has drawn in West African and UN forces who have vainly tried to impose a measure of peace. The conflict has had deep impact on surrounding nations and an ending of the fighting and of the ‘reign’ of the warlords looks distant. A whole generation has been deeply scarred.

4 The Maghreb conflicts — the Algerian civil war with its unending bloody massacres of civilians, and the unresolved conflict about the future of the Western Sahara occupied by Morocco since 1974.

5 Sudan’s 40-year civil war with its Islamic jihad overtones in which the Muslim north is seeking to subjugate the largely Christian south and impose shari’a law and Islam.

Trends to Watch
A few of the major international trends are given for prayerful attention. See under individual countries for more specific detail.

1 AIDS in Africa now overshadows the future of the continent — 71% of the world’s AIDS cases in 1999 were in Africa. By 2000 a moderate estimate was of 25 million infected with HIV and 12.25 million orphans due to AIDS. Nearly 10% of the adult population of sub-Saharan Africa was infected. Lowered immunity has stimulated the spread of TB and other diseases. Life expectancies are dropping fast. Whole families, communities and economic structures are being decimated. Deaths by 2000 were estimated at 13.7 million; 6,000 were dying daily in 1999. Pray for:

a) The focal areas of infection. These are South-Central Africa with 20-25% of the adult population of Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland infected. Only 30% of Zimbabwe’s 15-year old girls are expected to reach the age of 30. Malawi, South Africa and Zambia are not far behind. Other focal areas are East Africa, Congo-DRC and Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire. Only in Uganda has the rapid spread of AIDS been reversed. Pray that the leaders of African nations might be roused from lethargy, pull their heads from the sand and take all necessary action to stem this human catastrophe.

b) Radical changes in society that deal with the moral, social and spiritual deficiencies that spread the disease. Widespread promiscuity even among Christians, pernicious lies (‘men become sick unless they frequently have sexual intercourse’; ‘sex with a virgin cures AIDS’) and the stigma of confessing to having the virus all contribute to this spread.

c) Mobilization of churches to tackle the causes and effects of AIDS. They alone have the belief system, moral authority and local presence to be effective in ministries of prevention and care. Most churches have long ignored the issue or run away from the implications of involvement. Pray that out of this tragedy may emerge a more effective, caring, relevant, attractive Church in Africa.

d) Deployment of Christian agencies and skills to empower the Church in this new realm of ministry. For decades, this will be a key area for medical missions as national health systems crumble under the effects of low investment and the AIDS pandemic.

2 The ongoing weaknesses of African democratic institutions. Despotism, ‘kleptocracies’ (rulers that rob the national treasury), tyranny and suppression of any opposition still plague many countries. Intercede for effective and peaceful change to accountable government and riddance of despotism in Libya, Kenya, Congo-DRC, Zimbabwe, Angola, Gabon, Togo, Liberia, Equatorial Guinea and Congo-Brazzaville. Pray that Christian politicians who are transparently honest, flint-faced against corruption and nepotism may be raised up and preserved in their testimony once in power. President Moi in Kenya, a member of an evangelical church, has lost his credibility and President Chiluba of Zambia, an active Pentecostal, is in danger of the same. Pray for Christian Presidents such as Obasanjo of Nigeria, Mkapa of Tanzania and Matthieu Kérékou of Benin that they may rule without favour and in fairness as they grapple with the serious problems of their nations. The rapid spread of mobile phones and the Internet in Africa can be one means of exposing sin, corruption and abuse of power.

3 The Muslim-Christian fault-line stretching from Senegal across the Sahel to Ethiopia and along Africa’s Indian Ocean seaboard. The potential for widened conflagrations and confrontations is high because of increasingly aggressive Islamist movements and African Christian evangelism gaining converts from within Muslim communities. Only in Sudan and Nigeria has this led to war or mass violence, but Guinea-Bissau, Côte d’Ivoire and Chad are in danger of trouble in the near future.

4 Africa’s deepening poverty and the right means to alleviate it in the long-term. Part is locally induced — poor health care, massive corruption, greed, war. Part is of foreign origin — inappropriate aid programmes, unfair trading agreements, short-term aid in crises without long-term development, use of foreign rather than local skills and cultural mechanisms. The overall effects are huge — distorted economies, a brain drain of African professionals, 40% of children not in school, degeneration of health care and communications.

a) The governments of richer trading nations need to implement a range of measures to ensure a fair price for African produce and realize that failure leads to raised need for aid. Dumping unwanted and inappropriate foodstuffs and medicines as aid can create more problems than it solves.

b) Secular and religious NGOs from the World Bank to the smallest Christian aid agency need a humble sensitivity to local culture and needs in the short- and long-term and avoid any appearance of neo-colonialistic control or manipulation because of the power of their money.

5 The continued power of African traditional religions. The low percentage of followers of the pre-Christian ethnic religions is not a true reflection of reality. Underlying both Muslim and Christian religious profession is a value system steeped in the old ways — fetishism, ancestor worship, idolatry, etc. Personal, tribal and national crises reveal this in reversion to the old ways. The terrible events in Africa which have so impacted many nations in recent years cannot be understood without realizing this. Pray for the powers of darkness to be bound in Jesus’ name, and pray that Christian leaders and churches may challenge these powers and not succumb to them.

The Church in Africa
The colonial and apartheid past is fading and a new level of confidence, dynamism, vision and maturity is evident in many parts of Africa. In many countries the Church is the only effective social organization that can bring reconciliation between ethnic groups, cope with the many economic, health and education challenges in collapsing societies. Pray that the Church of the 21st Century might rise to the challenge. Challenges to face in the new millennium:

1 More effective discipling of new believers. Millions have been evangelized and responded, but non-Christian customs and worldviews have invaded the Church. Syncretism is a major problem in many areas. Thorough-going repentance and renunciation of sin and the works of darkness are often lacking and many Christians are not free from the fear of witchcraft and evil spirits. The new generation, or third wave of African Christianity, takes a clear stand against these but many churches are seriously compromised.

2 Unity in great diversity. There are around 15,000 denominations, clusters of churches and networks in Africa. Pray:

a) That the carnality of inter-personal relationship breakdowns, desire for power and ethnic favouritism that lie behind many denominational splits may be crucified with Jesus on the cross.

b) For pan-African bodies such as the AEA (Association of Evangelicals of Africa). The role of the AEA is strategic in linking national evangelical denominations in fellowship, stimulating vision and in promoting leadership training, culturally relevant biblical theology and social action. Over 188 denominations and agencies are members and these represent a 50 million Christian constituency.

3 Leadership training is the critical bottleneck. There is a lack of funds for training and supporting full-time workers. Leadership is limited at every level: for village congregations, for the urban educated and for theological training. Pray for:

a) Theological institutions. These have multiplied for students with primary, secondary and post-secondary level. There are only two significant interdenominational graduate-level theological schools. ACTEA, Africa’s accreditation body, lists in its directory over 100 seminary-level members and many more schools, over half being in 4 countries — Nigeria (130), South Africa (111), Congo-DRC (85) and Kenya (66).

b) A relevant curriculum that is biblical, yet Africa-oriented. Too much is geared to Western theological battles and perceptions.

c) Harmony between staff. Tensions among missionaries and between missionary and national staff have sometimes not been a spiritual example to the students they teach.

d) Selection of students. Discernment is needed to know who are anointed of the Spirit for future leadership and who apply out of baser motives of prestige, desire for education, etc.

e) Funds. The poverty of the Church and lack of understanding among potential donors hampers the development of Bible training institutions. The needs for buildings, libraries, student grants and travel are endless. Western churches need to give as freely for providing spiritual food to the starving Christians as they have done to provide for Africa’s famines.

f) TEE programmes, which are vital for training lay leadership. Over 100 programmes are in operation, but some are less successful. Funding, difficulties in travel, low motivation and the failure to involve the real leaders have all been hindrances.

g) African theologians. There is a theological vacuum to be filled. A truly indigenous evangelical African theology has been slow to develop. A clear stand by African theologians to expound the universal and unchangeable truths of Scripture in the African context is needed which will also counteract error, African misconceptions of the gospel and the very real powers of darkness.

4 More effective cross-cultural missions. The missionary force is increasingly African and multi-continental and less Western. Much sensitivity and humility is required for effective ministry that reaches the unevangelized and defers to the maturity and vision of the growing African Church. The need for missionaries continues to be greater than the supply of those with the gifting and vision for:

a) Pioneer areas. These still abound; see below. A high degree of commitment and sacrifice will be required to reach present pioneer areas where conditions are sometimes very hard. In some cases missionaries will need to learn two to four languages before they can reach the least-reached.

b) Church support personnel for teaching, youth work, etc., which are needed as never before. Yet the willingness to work under African leadership and as part of the Church in Africa is essential.

c) Specialists for Bible translation, education, agriculture, health, radio, television, cassette ministries, Internet evangelism, etc., yet who will also make a spiritual impact through their lives.

d) Social projects and aid ministries which are in ever-growing demand. In many countries governments have been unable to provide basic services to their people and Christian churches and agencies have had to take these up. Physical needs must be met, but such is the pressure that this can lead to neglect of spiritual needs that may be the ultimate cause of suffering and deprivation.

5 The development of missions vision in the Church. Praise God for the rapid growth and spread of African missions — in 2000 there were estimated to be nearly 13,000 African missionaries with most serving in a cross-cultural setting. Much of past and present church planting has been through humble, dedicated African missionaries. Pray for:

a) Churches to see missions as fundamental to the gospel itself, and the task of every believer — not just a white Christian!

b) Funds to be made available to train and send out missionaries. Exchange controls and poverty prevent many churches from realizing their mission vision to the full.

c) Effective cross-cultural training for missions — few Bible schools do this, but they should. Innovative training mechanisms have been set up and are growing in different parts of Africa — in West Africa through such as the Nigerian Calvary Ministries and CMF, in East Africa through the Africa Inland Church, in South Africa through various agencies.

6 Christian research has flourished through the enthusiastic efforts of a new generation of talented African researchers. The AD2000 and Beyond Movement was used of God to encourage a national research initiative in many African countries — especially prominent in this are Nigeria, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe. Especially needing such initiative are Kenya, Tanzania and Congo-DRC.

7 The expatriate mission force. Honour must be given to the huge impact of dedicated missionaries who achieved so much despite the frequent neglect or even opposition of colonial rulers in the past. These missionaries educated, healed, uplifted and modernized much of Africa in what became a massive social transformation. Generations of African leaders were educated in Christian schools. Inevitably there were weaknesses — importation of Western individualism, dualism (division between spiritual and physical), structures and theological presuppositions, but the Church became rooted in Africa as a result. Praise God for both the lives of these heroes of the faith and for the emergence of the Church. The 21st Century brings new challenges:

a) Partnership. The mission force is increasingly African and multicultural. The growth and expansion of the Church means that relationships, partnering, unity in vision and sharing of resources are fundamental for progress. Pray for unity and fellowship that transcends all social and cultural barriers within mission agencies, among agencies themselves, and between the indigenous churches and agencies.

b) Health and restorative ministries. The increase of wars, disasters and economic failures has provided an enormous need for a new type of medical missions and for restorative ministries — AIDS ravaged societies, war-traumatized populations, children in crisis (abuse, child-soldiers, child prostitution, etc.).

The Unreached of Africa
Much has been achieved; Christians are numbered in their millions, but serious challenges must be met, and the Church in Africa and world-wide must be mobilized to meet them.

Much of Africa is within the 10/40 Window area. Of the world’s 10 major geographical Affinity Blocs of peoples, 2½ are in Africa: the Sub-Saharan peoples, the Horn of Africa peoples and the western half of the Arab world. For more information about the Arabs, see the section on Asia — West. Then, within these 2½ blocs are clusters of peoples with more closely related cultures and situations. Here are listed most of the major ones with a few details. Most of these clusters are found in more than one country, so their global statistics are given. Please see individual countries for more information. Most are in a belt of territory stretching across the Sahel and then down Africa’s east coast. Note the map showing these clusters.

1 The Imazighen, or Berber of North Africa. They were the original inhabitants, but were conquered by Rome; many becoming Christians. Then in the 8th Century they were conquered by the Arabs, their culture and history suppressed and most were absorbed into the conquering race. There are 20 million Imazighen in 76 distinct ethnic groups living in 17 countries. Major groups (with many sub-groups) being the Kabyle (3.5m), Shilha (10.7m), Shawiya (1.8m). Only among the Kabyle has there been a significant turning to Christ. Less than 0.3% might be considered Christian. Several partnerships of agencies concerned for them exist.

2 The Tuareg (Tamasheq) are related to the Berber, but have a unique culture and live in the central Sahara Desert. They number 3 million in 8 countries and comprise 16 ethnic groups. Only in Niger and Mali are there a few groups of believers. A number of agencies have formed a partnership for their evangelization.

3 The West Atlantic cluster with 6.4 million speaking 77 languages and dialects. Most live in Senegal, the Gambia and Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone. Some, such as the Balanta, Mandyak, Serer and Papel have responded to the gospel, but among the more Muslim Wolof (3.7m), Jola (600,000), Beafada (43,000) and Nalu (23,000) response has been very small and these are still pioneer peoples.

4 The Mande peoples live mainly in Africa west of Nigeria, and are in a majority in Mali and Guinea. Most are Muslim. There are 17 million in the main body of Mande peoples and a further 5.5 million in scattered smaller peoples across West Africa. Jula, a Mande language, has become a major trade language for much of the western half of West Africa. In the main body of Mande only the Malian Bambara (4.3m), Kassonke (280,000), and the Sierra Leonian Kono (232,000) have a number of Christians. The most needy are the Mandingo-related (5.5m), Jula-related (1m), Soso-Yalunka (1.3m) and Wassulunke (740,000).

5 The Soninke-Bozo peoples — mainly of Senegal and Mali are 1.6 million with only a handful of believers. Several agencies are seeking to reach them.

6 The Songhai-Zarma peoples — 4.7 million living mainly in Mali and Niger and speaking 18 languages and dialects. Muslim; very few Christians.

7 The Fulbe (Pulaar, Fulani) number 20 million in 40 or so distinct ethnic groups speaking related dialects. They have spread from Senegal to become a major component of nearly every country of the Sahel as far east as Sudan. They are the largest nomadic-culture people in the world. More than half now live settled lifestyles and are more strongly Muslim than the nomadic or semi-nomadic Fulbe. Planting churches among them has been hard and slow with small breakthroughs in Benin, Nigeria and Chad. The Fulbe represent one of the major challenges for missions in Africa today. There are dozens of agencies with some outreach or ministry to Fulbe and several partnerships have been formed specifically to synergize ministry among them.

8 The Volta-Gur peoples number nearly 15 million in 165 ethnic groups. Most live in the Sahel; Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Benin and Togo. Among the many peoples related to the Mossi (10.3m), Grusi (3.5m), Gurma (2m) and Dogon (900,000), a significant minority are active Christians. The Senufo (3m) and Lobi (500,000) are more resistant and response is slow. Many peoples are largely unreached in Burkina Faso but few of the larger peoples remain without a witness.

9 The Hausa are dominant in Niger and northern Nigeria, but live in 27 countries and number 30 million. Hausa has become the major language for much of Nigeria, Niger and beyond. Many resources exist in Hausa — the Bible, the JESUS film, radio broadcasting, and much ministry is done in Hausa, but few have turned to Christ from Islam. Response has been greatest among the Maguzawa section of the Hausa. This large people remains a major challenge to the Church.

10 Kanuri-Kanembu — 5.1 million in northwest Nigeria and the Chad basin. They are the least reached cluster of peoples in the Sahel. They, and the related Teda and Daza of north Chad, have no known churches. After years of effort to reach them the fruit is meagre.

11 The Chadian peoples. Five intermingled clusters of Sudanic, Saharan and Chadic peoples live in the large area of central Nigeria, north Cameroon, Chad and the Darfur Province of Sudan. They speak over 400 languages and dialects and nearly half of these are without churches, the Scriptures, or much of any other form of witness. Much pioneer work in arduous conditions and among small language groups must still be undertaken. This medley of smaller peoples constitutes one of the most complex challenges for pioneer ministry in Africa today. Special mention must be made of the many peoples linked with the Maba (953,000), Fur (800,000), Tama-Mararit (353,000), Daju (322,000), Masalit (300,000) and Naba (266,000). To these must be added the Shuwa Arab nomads who may number up to 2 million.

12 Cushitic-Horn of Africa peoples. There are 55 million in over 140 ethnic groups living mainly in Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia. Many of the peoples in Ethiopia are Christian. The challenge remains to reach the Somali (14m), Beja (2.5m) and Saho-Afar (1.5m). To these must be added the 1.8 million Nubians of the Nile Valley in Egypt and Sudan — long a Christian people until forcibly Islamized in the 17th Century but now with only a few hundred known believers. Many Christian agencies are burdened to bring the gospel to them and see a harvest — there have been many attempts.

13 The East Coast peoples of Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and Malawi. Almost all are Muslim and most are able to communicate in Swahili. Major groupings: Swahili (3.8m — including the Comorians and Zanzibarians), Makonde (2.2m), Yao (1.7m) and Zaramo (630,000).

14 The Pygmy peoples of the central African forests. They were the original peoples of the region but invading Bantu peoples pushed them into the more inaccessible areas. They number 765,000 in 33 ethnic groups in 8 countries. They have long been ignored, or evangelized using Bantu languages. Only in recent years have more culturally sensitive church planting efforts been made. Results have been good during the 1990s; around 17% are now Christians. Evangelism Resources is an agency that has championed their cause, but a number of agencies and denominations are now planting churches among them.

Major Great Commission Challenges
1 Islam is the major challenge for Christianity today — both the 160 million Muslims north of the Sahara and the 157 million in sub-Saharan Africa. Islam has been steadily gaining converts from traditional religions in countries west of Ghana and all across the Sahel. More recently Muslim missionary efforts have extended to nearly every country in Africa. The use of oil-funded education, aid projects and grants and a well-orchestrated drive to give Islam a role in Africa’s political life has had some success. African Christians as well as mission agencies need to make Muslims a priority for demonstrations of the love of Christ and culturally sensitive approaches must be developed for planting churches among them.

2 Nations with the smallest number of Evangelicals. These are priority countries with less than 0.1% Evangelicals: Mauritania, Morocco, Libya, Tunisia, Comores, Djibouti, Niger, Senegal and Somalia. These are the countries with less than 1% Evangelicals: Algeria, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali.

3 Cities. Africa’s urban population has rapidly risen from 130 million in 1990 to maybe 240 million in 2000. Lack of economic development and greater poverty has meant that it is the slums, shanty towns and informal settlements that have mushroomed. These cities have become focal points for dire poverty, squalor, crime, prostitution, AIDS and misery. New ways must be found to impact these cities for God and plant churches that will transform urban areas.

4 Christian Help Ministries:

a) Bible distribution. Increased poverty has reduced Bible distribution. The Bible League estimates 100 million Christians do not even possess a Bible. Pray for effective, self-sustaining Bible printing and distribution by the Bible Societies and others.

b) Bible translation remains one of the major tasks to be accomplished in Africa. Of Africa’s 2,110 languages, 297 are definitely in need of Bible translation work. The major concentrations of these languages are in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and the Sudan.

c) Christian radio. Both FEBA in the Seychelles and TWR in Swaziland and South Africa have major short-wave transmitters broadcasting in most of the major languages of Africa. More use is now being made of national and local broadcasting stations who want to air Christian programmes. TWR, FEBA and HCJB work closely with a growing number of community Christian radio stations in Africa by providing satellite delivery of Christian programming and offering technical expertise.