|Republic of Botswana|
Area 581,730 sq.km. The Kalahari Desert covers 80% of the country. Dry and prone to severe droughts.
Capital Gaberone 180,000. Urbanites 29%.
Tswana 70%. Eight major tribes, most living along south-eastern border with South Africa.
Other 24.8%. Kalanga 240,000; Ndebele 30,000; Herero 25,000; Yeyi 23,000; Lozi 20,000; Pedi 16,000; Shona 15,000; Mbukushu 8,000; Subia 7,000.
San (Bushmen) 3.4%. Speaking 32 languages and dialects.
Other 1.8%. Zimbabwean, Angolan, South African and South Asian.
Literacy 86%. Official language English. National language Tswana. All languages 26. Languages with Scriptures 3Bi 1NT 2por 3w.i.p.
Benign neglect in colonial times. Rapid development since independence through export of meat, diamonds, copper, nickel and gold. Earnings have been wisely used to develop country. A 20-year high rate of economic growth despite periodic droughts. HDI 0.609; 122nd/174. Public debt 10% of GNP. Income/person $3,310 (11% of USA).
Independence from Britain in 1966. Has a stable, multi-party democracy a rarity in Africa.
Complete freedom of religion. After two centuries of having the gospel, the old tribal religions remain strong, and often spiritually unchallenged.
1 The Tswana were the first Bantu people in Africa to respond to the gospel; several tribes turned to God in the 19th Century through the LMS from England. Other missions followed. Nominalism soon became a major problem, since each mission planted what became virtually a 'state' church for the tribe that received that group. The majority of Tswana are Christian in name but given over to immorality and drunkenness accentuated by the breakdown of family life. In some areas, over 90% of children are illegitimate. Pray for a reversal of the moral decline.
2 AIDS has become a terrible scourge. Widespread promiscuity has rapidly spread the disease to 30-35% of the population. The result 60,000 AIDS orphans by 1999; of children under 5 who died in 2000, 64% died because of AIDS; 50% of university students HIV+ and a soaring national death rate. The social and economic life of the country will be devastated during the next decade. Pray for agencies such as BOCAIP, the Church's response to HIV/AIDS, who teach and advocate moral purity and Christian standards to prevent the spread of AIDS and also care for those affected. The ministry of many congregations is dominated by coping with AIDS deaths among their members. Pray for a radical change in the culture of the nation.
3 Protestant Churches are not maintaining their numbers. Nominalism is pervasive. Many congregations have few men. The United Congregational Church has only a few aging pastors and few candidates for the ministry. Some smaller evangelical and Pentecostal denominations are growing. Pray for revival, a new level of commitment and a recovery of vision for evangelism. Pray also for the 5 Protestant theological training institutions, among them the AoG Bible College in Gaberone, the Evangelical Lutheran Seminary and Kgolagano College.
4 Vision among Christians was stimulated by the GCOWE 1997 Conference. A fellowship network of mission agencies and churches was initiated. Pray for wisdom, godly leadership and visionary developments to impact Botswana.
5 African indigenous churches have multiplied. There are now over 150 such denominations. Their emphasis on healing (especially with the AIDS crisis), and local culture can often lead to syncretistic beliefs. Many are led by those with little education or theological training. Several basic theological courses run by the Mennonites and the Botswana Bible Training Institute are specifically geared to help these leaders. Pray for these churches and for the Scriptures to mould their development and outreach.
a) The 50,000 Bakgalagadi are mixed Tswana and San, but they speak Tswana. They are partially nomadic, living in the western desert. Pray for agencies such as Word to Africa and outreach teams from South Africa seeking to reach them.
b) The Kalanga resent the cultural dominance of the Tswana. There are few active Christians among them, but during the 1990s more were coming to Christ. The NT has been newly translated pray for its impact.
c) The Yeyi of the Okavango Swamp have only been exposed to nominal Christianity in the medium of the Tswana language. The efforts of Love Botswana Outreach, Word to Africa and Calvary Ministries have begun to see a small response.
f) The San have suffered the complete destruction of their desert-adapted way of life due to the development of ranching, mining and tourism. There are no longer any nomadic San all are resettled in poverty on the fringes of towns and villages. Response has been slow but several thousand San may now be Christian in about 15 congregations through the efforts of 10 agencies (Lutheran, SIM, Dutch Reformed, RTU, Word to Africa and Charles Haupt Ministries). Pray that these folk may help the San to adapt to modernity, yet retain their cultural heritage and, above all, find their true identity in Christ.
7 The last 20 years have been a time of new evangelical penetration for outreach, church planting and the founding of new Bible training institutions. The growing work of the Mennonites (37), SIM (16), IMB-SBC (16), Finnish Lutherans (16), Korean agencies (12), Brethren (7) and others, needs prayer. The spiritual and physical conditions are not easy. Pray for the planting of witnessing churches in which Christians exhibit true holiness and a love for the Scriptures.
8 Young people need spiritual help. Teenage pregnancies are 'normal' and offspring of single parents are likely to be HIV+ and poor. Religion is taught as an obligatory subject in schools. Pray for the ministry of SU in providing Christian teaching materials for the schools, and nurturing the SU groups meeting in 30 (out of the 73) secondary schools. Pray for more part- and full-time workers for this ministry. There is a lively IFES group at the University of Botswana.
b) Radio broadcasts and Christian TV on the national network are supervised by the International Church Radio Council. TWR Swaziland broadcasts 45 minutes daily in Tswana. Radio LBOM is being constructed in Maun, NW Botswana. Plans are to broadcast 24 hrs/day in three languages of Botswana and neighbouring lands.
c) Literature for the rapidly increasing literate population is scarce and often expensive. Little variety is available in Tswana, and virtually nothing in minority languages. Pray for bookstore ministries.
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