A Focus on East and South Africa: 349 Least-Reached People Groups Remain

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Overview
The twenty-seven countries in eastern and southern Africa are already fairly well evangelized thanks to the work of Africa Inland Mission (AIM) and Sudan Interior Mission (SIM); however, there are more than 340 remaining least-reached peoples, especially in the Horn of Africa and among the Hindu and Muslim immigrant groups in East Africa. Ethiopia has over nineteen million people among its thirty-nine least-reached peoples, representing 34.8% of its population. Sudan has over eighteen million people in 137 least-reached groups, representing 56.1% of its population. However, nations like Comoros, Somalia, Djibouti and Mayotte have over ninety percent of their population in least-reached groups. Much work remains!

The peaceful ending of apartheid in South Africa and the transition to multi-racial democratic government was considered impossible; however, the miracle occurred in answer to fervent prayer by millions of Christians in South Africa and beyond. In the past few years a new movement aiming to globalize prayer has sprung up from this area. It began with Transformation Africa and today is demonstrated in the annual Global Day of Prayer, which begins with a ten-day time of prayer and fasting on Ascension Day and culminates with the Global Day of Prayer on Pentecost. In 2005, over 150 nations participated. Pray with believers around the world that the gospel would penetrate to every tongue, tribe and nation in this region.

Prayer Points

  • Transformation. Ask God to transform every least-reached people into life-givers rather than life-takers by his power and love.

  • Living Sacrifices. Ask the Lord of the harvest to bring forth many laborers who offer their lives daily as living sacrifices, so that whether by life or by death the name of the Lord Jesus Christ is glorified.
  • Bridges for the Gospel. Request that God impart divine revelation of redemptive bridges for the gospel in order to effectively present his truth and good news.
  • Forgiveness. Seek God to impart the ability to forgive enemies, to overcome evil with good and to bless those who persecute believers who share the gospel.
  • Endurance. Plead with God for workers with such endurance that they never give up, moved by the great compelling of God to reach even the most remote and difficult least-reached people groups.

Links

  • Resources to pray and mobilize prayer and outreach.

  • Discover East and South Africa’s 349 least-reached peoples.
  • Pray for the peoples of East and South Africa.
  • Obtain prayer guides for the peoples of this region.

Background

God Brings Beauty for Ashes in Eastern and Southern Africa
(Prepared by Patricia Depew for the Global Prayer Digest)
As prayer intercessors, we have certainly prayed many times for those who are suffering physically or spiritually. But sometimes it seems that God is not answering our prayers for mercy. People continue to suffer. Does that mean that he is not active? Not at all! There are many examples in the recent history of Eastern and Southern Africa to show that God brings “beauty for ashes” (Isaiah 61:3), and raises up people who are spiritual conquerors in the midst of horrible circumstances.


Research has shown that two hundred years after the arrival of the first Protestant missionaries in Africa, Christianity is growing faster here than anywhere else in the world.


Today, destruction is a key word to describe what is happening in these regions of Africa. AIDS is killing millions. There are civil wars, rape, political corruption, poverty, famine, terrorism, moral decay, child soldiers are forced to perform atrocities, lack of jobs, illness, addiction and racial hatred. This may seem hopeless, but God is raising up his people to bring hope and light where darkness has reigned so healing can take place in the lives of broken people. In his book, Revival Fire, Wesley Duewel states that there have been several times of revival in these areas. Yet there have also been times when Satan has caused much pain and misery, often at the same time as when revival fires are burning hot. Indeed, in these times of darkness, God’s light shines brightest. The Church is also well-established in these two parts of Africa, thanks to the work of SIM International, Africa Inland Mission and many other Christian agencies.

Research has shown that two hundred years after the arrival of the first Protestant missionaries in Africa, Christianity is growing faster here than anywhere else in the world. There are more than 390 million Christians in sub-Saharan Africa today, up from 117 million in 1970. This trend is due mostly to evangelism, according to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity. It is the African believers who are doing the evangelism.

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Uganda, Home of the East African Revivals
According to Duewel, there was an outstanding revival in East Africa during the 1930s. Today, in the midst of turmoil and upheaval, Uganda, in East Africa, is experiencing another time of revival and setting the pace for other African countries. Uganda’s President, Yoweri Museveni, turned to the Church for prayer when his country was facing defeat by the notorious rebel army, regretfully named the “Lord’s Resistance Army” (LRA). Churches and various prayer ministries came together and prayed, renouncing witchcraft and idolatry. They also prayed against the satanic worship performed by Joseph Kony, an LRA fugitive leader whose campaign has led to the deaths of thousands of people. After weeks of praying, the war shifted and thousands of rebels surrendered or were killed. Some seventeen thousand children who had been kidnapped to fight for the LRA were rescued, and Kony’s chief witches surrendered. Many of them repented and came to the Lord. An aide of Kony’s who was captured reported that Kony said, “The spirits have left me, and it is all the fault of the Christians!” Other evidence of the Holy Spirit’s power in Uganda includes mass conversions, successful AIDS reduction (Uganda at one time had the highest rate of HIV in the world), humanitarian action, building of schools, health clinics and orphanages. Uganda is being transformed.

In the 1970s, under the dictatorship of Muslim Idi Amin, many of Uganda’s Christians were persecuted. Satan was at work, but many were coming to the Lord during this time of hardship. Over 300,000 people were killed and thousands more fled the country. One Ugandan pastor stated, “Thank God for Idi Amin. He was horrible, but God utilized the atrocities he committed to introduce Uganda to a spirit of desperation. We suffered so much, and Satan pressed us so far out; we ended up in the hands of God.”

One of the problems, especially in some of the eastern African countries, is the attitude of Christians toward the lost. Many of the African Christians are acting out of self-defense rather than sacrificial love when dealing with members of other religions. Pray that these African Christians may demonstrate a love and concern for others that transcends ethnic and racial divisions—especially to their Muslim neighbors.

Suffering and Revival in East Africa
Countries such as Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia need special consideration. In Sudan, millions have suffered extreme physical hardship, torture and enslavement at the hands of Islamic militants in an ongoing war. Eritrea and Ethiopia are two areas that are in constant conflict with each other. Christians are often caught in the middle of the political fighting.

Regardless of what they have been through, the Church in these areas continues to grow. After hearing about extreme suffering from a group of pastors in eastern Africa, a Christian reporter cried out, “How can you take it?” The answer was, “Faith in God! God takes care of his people. What is so vital is to bring God to the people to be bearers of the good news to a population drowning in violence and hate. People are tired of listening to empty words. We have to show Jesus. We must give out what we have received!”

Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth; you are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-14). Salt combats corruption and light dispels darkness. Salt and light are synonymous with truth. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. As his children walk as Jesus walked, they are salt and light in this region.

The Spiritual Condition in South Africa
In the 1850s and 1860s, there was a massive revival that affected all social groupings in South Africa. White Africaners and Black Zulus alike were affected by a powerful spirit of prayer brought on by the Holy Spirit. Today, South Africa has one of the most severe HIV epidemics in the world. By the end of 2005 there were more than five million people living with HIV in South Africa; according to UNAIDS estimates, almost one thousand people die each day due to AIDS in this area. After ten years of democracy in South Africa, many wounds are still left unhealed and many individuals remain lost. The Church is large, but people with a Christian background have fallen back into the demonic strongholds of racial strife and sexual immorality.

Pray for Perseverance and Integrity
Sometimes the difference between the boldest accomplishments and the most staggering failures is simply the willingness to persevere. Pray that God’s servants in eastern and southern Africa will persevere so that God will continue to bring beauty out of ashes. Many of these servants are ordinary Christians undertaking lifesaving ministries and are facing extraordinary risks in order to bring God’s love to those who do not know him.

Pray that all finances provided to help the Church minister the gospel will be used wisely and with integrity. Financial temptation is heavy in this part of the world where local culture dictates that people provide for their families and friends, often in ways that God’s word calls stealing. Pray for a revival in these regions that will bring healing in spiritual, physical and emotional lives. Pray for revival fire to bring reconciliation between all ethnic groups. And pray these revivals will be of the grandest scale.