Republic of Benin
Area: 112,622 sq km
A long, narrow country wedged between Nigeria and Togo.
Population: 9,211,741 Annual Growth: 3.20%
HDI Rank: 161 of 182 (UN Human Development Reports 2009)
Peoples: 68 (18% unreached)
Official language: French. Trade languages, Fon in south, Dendi in north Languages: 56
Largest Religion: Christian
Challenges for Prayer
Economic advancement and endemic corruption. Genuine efforts to uplift the economy too often fail because of corruption; as a result, Benin remains one of the world’s 20 least-developed countries. Up to 70% of the skilled workforce must subsist by taking manual or menial-labour jobs. Pray that those in positions to enrich themselves at the nation’s cost might instead be honest and self-sacrificing workers and leaders.
Less-reached peoples. Most peoples are still considered unreached – only a handful of smaller peoples have a Christian (Catholic) majority. Benin has Africa’s highest percentage of followers of traditional religions and is probably the least evangelized non-Muslim country in Africa. For specific prayer:
a) The Fon are the most numerous people in Benin. It was from Fon animism that voodoo developed. The Fon have a significant Christian population, but many are nominal and voodoo still permeates their lives. Outreach by several Western and African missions birthed a large number of churches, as growth and responsiveness are found in equal measure. Pray for more Fon Christian leaders, and for believers untainted by animistic influences.
b) The Gbe include 19 southern peoples from the Kwa/Guinean grouping, forming a patchwork of unreached and unevangelized peoples – accounting for 59.5% of Benin’s population. Among most of these peoples, indigenous evangelical churches are few, but growth is occurring.
c) The Ede Nago are located on the southeastern border with Nigeria, in the region of Ketou. Until recently, they had little real exposure to the gospel and have no Scripture in their tongue. Related to them are the Idacca who live in south central Benin and are over 90% animist. There are now teams working among them.
d) Muslim peoples. Most reside in the less evangelized far northern part of the country. They include the Dendi, Zerma, Hausa, Foodo and Kotokoli. Only the Zerma and Hausa have the whole Bible, and neither is more than 1% evangelical. Pray for teams to reach them – SIM, AoG and IMB all target specific peoples.
e) The Fulbe (Fula) peoples of the far north have experienced a real breakthrough, with several thousand coming to Christ through Western (SIM, AoG) and indigenous ministries. There is a Bible school and a growing number of radio programmes for the Fula, and their receptivity to the gospel continues.
f) The 1.3 million urbanites of the two capitals. Rapid urbanization brings many from unevangelized peoples into the cities, including a quickly growing Muslim population. Teams are needed to specifically reach these groups in their new urban context; pray for awareness of the cultural differences among peoples and how best to reach each one. Nigerian missions and a number of Benin-originated churches are doing urban evangelism in several cities.