Côte d'Ivoire
Republic of Côte d'Ivoire
April 18

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Area 320,763 sq.km. On the West African coast between Ghana and Liberia. Rain forest in the south and savannah/highlands in the north.

Population Ann.Gr. Density
2000 14,785,832 +1.79% 46 per sq. km.
2010 18,200,343 +2.07% 57 per sq. km.
2025 23,345,116 +1.37% 73 per sq. km.

There has been a massive influx from surrounding lands, especially Burkina Faso and Mali over recent years.

Capital Yamoussoukro 166,800. Other major city: Abidjan 3,850,000. Urbanites 42.5%.


Akan 31%. 18 groups: Baoulé 2.93 million; the dominant people today. Lagoon peoples (14) 735,000; Agni 790,000.

Gur 13%. 37 groups: Senufo (32 dialects) 1.2m; Kulango 293,000; Lobi 287,000.

Mande 12%. 9 groups: Jula 841,000; Malinke 758,000; Bambara 264,000, Mahou 192,000; Taguana 182,500; Koyaka 160,500.

Kru 9%. 24 groups: Bété 591,000; Guéré 368,000; Dida(2) 216,000; Wobe 180,000.

South Mande 7%. 9 groups: Yakuba 875,000; Gouro 414,700.

Foreign Africans 27%. Burkinabé 2.39m (of which Mossi 1.06m); Malian 848,600; Guinean 246,800; Ghanaian 142,000.

Other 1%. Lebanese 50,000; French 19,400.

Literacy 42.4%. Official language French, used by a high proportion of the population. Jula a trade language in the north and Abidjan. All languages 75. Languages with Scriptures 4Bi 21NT 21por 23w.i.p.


One of the world's largest producers of cocoa, coffee and palm oil. Post-independence boom produced both massive immigration of job-seekers from surrounding lands and a high level of corruption. Currency devaluation in 1994 led to further growth. A political coup in December 1999 caused a sharp downturn in the economy as capital inflows dropped. Many businesses have since left the country. Civil servants have received no cost of living salary raise in over 18 years. HDI 0.422; 154th/173. Public debt 100% of GNP. Income/person $710 (2.2% of USA).


Independent from France in 1960. Formerly a one-party presidential government under Houphouet-Boigny, who died in 1993. His elected successor was deposed and fled the country during a coup at Christmas 1999. The military-led transitional government oversaw a new constitution and elections in 2000. These were characterized by politicized ethnic and religious tensions, as established southern tribes attempt to shut out the growing immigrant – and largely Muslim – peoples from Burkina Faso and Mali from power. Tensions will not relax for some time, but Ivoirian stability is essential to the entire region, already one of the world's poorest and most strife-torn.


Complete religious freedom. The government remains sympathetic to missions. Traditional religions are generally stronger in the centre and west. Islam (Sunni) is strong in the northwest and Abidjan. Both Islam and Christianity are highly syncretized with African traditional beliefs, making these three religions impossible to precisely enumerate.

Religions Population % Adherents Ann.Gr.
Muslim 38.60 5,707,331 +3.3%
Christian 31.78 4,698,937 +3.7%
Ethnic religions 29.07 4,298,241 -1.7%
non-Religious 0.25 36,965 +1.8%
Baha'i 0.20 29,572 +1.8%
Hindu 0.10 14,786 +1.8%

Christians Denom. Affil.% ,000 Ann.Gr.
Protestant 35 8.69 1,284 +14.5%
Independent 148 7.62 1,126 +2.6%
Catholic 1 14.20 2,100 +2.3%
Orthodox 1 0.20 29 +3.9%
Marginal 2 0.17 25 +8.7%
Unaffiliated   0.90 133 n.a.

Churches Megabloc Cong. Members Adherents
Catholic C 225 1,220,930 2,100,000
Assemblies of God P 800 300,000 500,000
Prot Ch of Central CI P 1,617 116,671 330,000
Eglise Harriste I 330 66,007 200,000
Union Eg Ev du S.O. (UFM) P 1,136 50,000 166,500
Protestant Methodist P 943 68,868 146,000
Ashes of Purification I 808 80,838 135,000
Les Eglises "Reveille" [4] I 500 50,000 75,000
Oeuvre Missionnaire I 600 30,000 60,000
All. of Ev Chs (AEECI) P 210 20,000 35,000
Orthodox O   17,365 29,000
Seventh-day Adventist P 37 6,243 20,602
Jehovah's Witnesses M 184 6,800 19,448
Baptist Convention P 191 10,000 15,000
Northern Baptist P 260 5,200 13,000
Other denoms [169]   982 294,140 719,601
Total Christians [187]   8,823 2,343,062 4,564,151

Trans-bloc Groupings pop.% ,000 Ann.Gr.
Evangelical 9.2 1,363 +14.3%
Charismatic 6.0 883 +17.0%
  Pentecostal 4.5 663 +21.7%

Missionaries from Côte d'Ivoire
P,I,A 57 in 11 agencies to 11 countries: C.I. 33, Togo 6, Mali 4, Niger 4.

Missionaries to Côte d'Ivoire
P,I,A 1,109 in 73 agencies from 31 countries: USA 490, Liberia 177, UK 70, Canada 45, Ghana 31, Nigeria 24.

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Answers to Prayer

1 The rapid growth that has taken place in evangelical churches. Believers have almost doubled since 1990. Recent research has shown that there are more than 700 Protestant/Independent churches in Abidjan, a massive increase from 1990.

2 Denominations are beginning to work together more. This has largely come as a response to the nation's troubles – such as the interdenominational prayer concerts in several cities. Events like the March for Jesus and the visits of OM/YWAMships have brought together thousands from many denominations.

Challenges for Prayer

1 The Catholic Church has made a deep impact through an extensive educational system. Many Ivoirians are nominally Catholic as a result. Catholics are a large minority in the south and among the upper and middle classes. The lack is a personal relationship with the Saviour. A charismatic movement is well established in the Catholic Church.

2 Spiritism is still strong in Côte d'Ivoire, despite apparent numerical decline. There are 4000 evangelical churches, but 5000 sacred fetish groves. Many Christians are still affected by the power of spiritism and fetishes, compromising both their witness and their own life in Christ. Pray that all who have not fully left behind their spiritist past might be completely delivered by the power of Jesus. Pray that believers might withstand temptation to revert to old practices.

3 Pray for unity and cooperation among Evangelicals. If the country is to be effectively evangelized and the church to mature, then denominational differences and competition must be set aside in favour of partnerships and teamwork.

a) The Federation of Evangelical Churches, although it has existed for 36 years, has little to show for its efforts. Pray for a new generation of leadership that will know how to make cooperative ventures work and to bring them to pass.

b) National strategy must be developed. Côte d'Ivoire is the only remaining African nation with a sizeable Evangelical population that has not launched a country-wide church planting effort in the style of the DAWN/AD2000 "National Initiatives" seen elsewhere. Pray for the birth of a national saturation evangelism programme as well as for more partnerships which target specific unreached peoples.

c) Pray that revival might break out among the pastors, church leaders, and members. Amidst the tremendous growth, pastors have begun to prefer a role of power, instead of one of servant-leader. Pray that this kind of pride may be replaced with humility and continued burden for the lost and that the Church might develop "missionary eyes and hearts" for unreached peoples.

4 The level of Bible knowledge and discipleship is low, partly a result of rapid church growth. Many churches accept the 'prosperity' gospel, and open air campaigns sometimes focus more upon miracles and healings rather than the One who is their source. However, this trend has been counterbalanced by the growth of Bible Institutes, Study Centres, and Correspondence Courses in which thousands of students are now enrolled. Pray that students at the new CMA theological school may grow in the mastery of the Word. Pray for the AoG's new training institute, opening soon in Abidjan. Pray also for the Navigators and other ministries that focus on the much needed area of discipleship.

5 Evangelical agencies had a late and slow start compared to other West African lands. CMA arrived in 1930 and focused on the Baoulé in the centre of the country. Mission Biblique began in 1927 amongst the Yacouba and Guéré in the southwest, later joined by UFM, and WEC began in 1934 among the Gouro and Gban (Gagou). The AoG, which started only in the 1950s, however, now has churches all over the country and has surpassed all of the other denominations in terms of growth and outreach.

6 Major missions include: AICA (177), CCCI (126), WBT/SIL(87), NTM (104), CBI (80), CMA (80), WEC (61), SBC (33), Free Will Baptists (28), SIM (23), CCCC (19), CMF (14). Though numbers seem high, many of these serve in international ministries based in the country or in missionary children's schools (CBI, NTM and WEC). There is still a great need for new long-term missionaries in pioneer evangelism, church planting and a wide range of supportive ministries. Pray for missionaries' safety. As robberies, carjacking and kidnapping increase, Christian workers and their families make tempting targets.

7 There are now several African mission agencies, some of which are denominational. They work mainly in Côte d'Ivoire but increasingly, beyond, targeting the remaining unreached peoples. Main areas for prayer:

a) Research. A small band of dedicated local researchers is committed to collecting information on the lost and helping churches build vision for cross-cultural church planting, within the country and in the sub-region. A West African researchers seminar was held in 1999 and has since developed into a regional network. Pray that their hard work may bear fruit.

b) Missionary training. Calvary Ministries has established a missions training institute in Abidjan to serve Francophone West Africa. It is the first such institute for this region. The great challenge is to prepare missionaries for Muslim outreach. Pray that the training may be of high quality, and be matched by students of the same.

c) Sending. Congregations are usually supportive of indigenous missionaries, but leadership often feels threatened and financially strained. Many of this new missionary generation live by faith on very little support. Pray that God might supply all of their needs and that their churches might support them in every possible way.

8 Peoples that are both unreached and unoccupied by missions or churches include the Muslim Soninke, Bambara, Wassulunke, Fulbe from several countries and the largely traditional Bisa – all peoples with their majorities in Burkina Faso, Mali or Ghana. There are also the Wolof from Senegal, Tuaregs from Mali, Hausa from Niger and Nigeria, and Lebanese and North African Muslims.

9 Peoples needing pioneer mission work with no major church planting breakthrough include:

a) The strongly Muslim peoples of the northwest: Malinke, Fulbe and Jula-speaking peoples, where only a handful have been won through the ministry of SIM, WEC and CBI. The Malinke/Fulbe group make up nearly 2 million people and are 99.9% non-Christian. More than 85 churches with 4000 members exist in Malinke territory, but they are composed almost exclusively of people who come from outside the region. Among the Mahou the Norwegian Lutherans have seen several congregations planted.

b) Marginally occupied peoples. For example: in the Free Will Baptist area in the northeast (Birifor, Téén); in the WEC area in the centre (Mona, Wan, Yaouré, Kouya, Mahou); in the MB-UFM area in the southwest (Toura, Dida, Bété).

c) The multiplicity of small language groups in the south. There are so many that present evangelistic, church planting and Bible translation ministries may not cover the need. Pray that this may be adequately researched and every group thoroughly evangelized. NTM has targeted the Glaro and Krumen in the southwest.

10 The large influx of foreigners presents unusual opportunities for evangelizing those who are separated from the strong ties of their tribal cultures. While their presence in Côte d'Ivoire is the source of much strife, it is also a timely evangelistic opportunity. Nearly 30% of the population is foreign, and the majority of foreigners are Muslim.

11 Islam spread and grew rapidly during the 20th Century – from 5% in 1900 to near 40% today. Interest by Christian Ivoirians in ministry to Muslims is growing, but the level of participation remains very low compared to actual needs. Tribal groups in the north and pockets of tribes all over the country are becoming Muslim. Urban concentrations of Muslims are high, and so are conversion rates among new immigrants to the cities. Pray that Christians may be zealous to win non-Muslims while they can, and also show more concern for the Muslims themselves. Pray for the healing of the north-south ethnic divide created by the politicians which is making outreach to Muslims even harder than before. Pray that Christians may learn how to show real love to their Islamic neighbours.

12 Demographic sectors of society needing the gospel:

a) Abidjan's exploding population, which doubles every 7-10 years, is the strategic key for evangelization of Côte d' Ivoire, Mali and Burkina Faso. Every people of these latter two lands has a significant community in the city, but most are neglected by the Church. There are 100 church-planting missionaries in Abidjan representing 13 churches/missions, but this is not adequate. Over 1.5 million Muslims, roughly half of the city, are scarcely touched with the gospel, and only around 10 missionaries and a few Ivoirians are seeking to reach them (SIM, CMA, MTW).

b) AIDS is now a major problem in the country, with 14-16% of Abidjan's population already infected with the HIV virus – few churches or ministries have faced up to this challenge. The country will soon need to care for an estimated 500,000 AIDS orphans.

c) Young people are responsive, and wherever churches minister specifically to them, there has been fruit. Liberty to teach Scripture in public schools is an exciting but under-used opportunity through lack of qualified personnel. SU is making a vital contribution in school evangelism and discipleship. The IFES Francophone Africa HQ is in Abidjan, and there is a strong GBU/IFES group in the university. CCC is also well established with full-time Ivoirian staff reaching students.

13 Literature. Pray for the bookstores and depots of various missions, including The Bible Society, Maison de la Bible, CLC, CDM, and others. Pray for the inter-mission/church Evangelical Publication Centre (CPE) and other publishers, that they might find the means to print books locally at a suitable quality. Currently, many books are printed in Asia or elsewhere. Well-intentioned efforts by outside ministries to sell their literature at subsidized prices keep African authors from publishing more relevant Christian works because they cannot compete with these lower-priced books. Also needing prayer: lack of qualified staff (especially French-speaking), financial pressures and lack of good distribution outlets and marketing strategies.

14 Bible translation is one of the most pressing and demanding ministries for Christian workers. A considerable number of national and expatriate workers are involved in 21 translation and 20 literacy programmes linked with UBS and various church/mission groups. SIL's contribution in a number of projects is especially significant – many being among the superficially-Christianized people of the south. Pray for newly-translated Scriptures to take root in the hearts of the people, especially since some have a negative view of their own language and want to learn to read only in French. Pray for a wider distribution of the Bibles and New Testaments already translated.

15 Christian Media

a) A Christian radio station in Abidjan is an answer to prayer. Radio Frequence Vie became operational in 1998, after waiting 6 years to receive its licence from the government and broadcasts in French and Jula. SIM's plan is to eventually turn it over completely to the national churches, who don't yet have the financial means for this. Pray, too, for government permission for Frequence Vie to broadcast in other languages and set up relay stations throughout the country.

b) TWR has a recording studio for producing daily messages that are eventually broadcast from its short-wave station in Johannesburg. Pray for the Bambara, Baoulé, Jula and Songhai as they tune in to TWR's messages in their languages. TWR is also producing a programme on development that is being transmitted from 42 stations across West Africa.

c) AEA's film studio, based in Abidjan, has started full production and will be used to produce culturally relevant programmes on video for transmission by national television stations across West Africa.

d) The JESUS film is in use in the Baoulé, Bété, Guére, Gouro, Senufo-Cebaara, and Yakuba languages. Dubbing projects are planned for Agni, Attie, Kulango, and Lobi. Jula is a key language, but the project has been blocked for several years for one reason or another – pray for a breakthrough.

e) GRN recordings have been prepared in 49 languages.

f) Ivoirian Christian music has grown rapidly and seen the production of many quality tapes and videos. Pray that the messages of the songs remain biblically sound.

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