Republic of Mali
August 7

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Area 1,240,192 Landlocked state. Dry southern grasslands merge into the Sahara Desert. The Niger River runs through the southern part of the country.

Population Ann.Gr. Density
2000 11,233,821 +2.47% 9 per sq. km.
2010 14,558,463 +2.69% 12 per sq. km.
2025 21,295,460 +2.37% 17 per sq. km.

Capital Bamako 1,500,000. Urbanites 26%.


34 ethnic groups.

West African peoples 93.5%. Major linguistic groups: Mande 55.7%.Bambara 3.7mill.; Soninke (Sarakole) 900,000; Malinke 578,000; Maninka 257,000; Kasonke 154,000; Bozo 154,000; Gana 96,500; Duun 90,000; Jula (Dioula) 64,500; Fulanke 64,500; Wassulunke 52,500. Gur18.4%. Senufo 643,000; Dogon 545,500; Minianka 456,000; Bobo (Bomu/Bwa) 393,000. West Atlantic12.1%. Fulbe (Fula) 1,325,000; Tukulor 173,500. Nilo-Saharan 7.3%. Songhai 771,000; Idaksahak 38,700.

Berber 3.7%. Tuareg (speaking two Tamacheq languages) 418,000, 60% of whom are Bella, the former slaves of the Tukulor.

Arab 1.2%. Maure (Moor) 136,500.

Other 1.6%. French 6,000.

Literacy 31%. Official language French. Trade languages Bambara, Fulbe, Songhai. All languages 32. Languages with Scriptures 4Bi 5NT 5por 15w.i.p.


Subsistence agricultural economy frequently devastated by drought, famine, desertification and locust plagues. The scarcity of natural resources is mitigated by the presence of large gold deposits. HDI 0.375; 166th/174. Public debt/person 101% of GNP. b $240 (0.8% of USA).


The modern successor to the great Malian empire of 1230-1400AD. Independent from France in 1960. Popular protests ousted a military dictatorship in 1991. Elections and a multi-party democracy ensued. The Tuareg in the northeast revolted against the central government in 1991 and gained a degree of autonomy in a subsequent pact in 1995.


A secular state with freedom of religion despite the large Muslim majority. Islam is strong in the north and centre and slowly growing in the south where traditional religions are stronger. These are strongest among the Dogon, Bobo, and Senufo/Minianka.

Religions Population % Adherents Ann.Gr.
Muslim 87.00 9,773,424 +2.7%
Traditional ethnic 10.98 1,233,474 +0.7%
Christian 1.92 215,689 +2.5%
non-Religious/other 0.10 11,234 +2.5%

Christians Denom. Affil.% ,000 Ann.Gr.
Protestant 18 0.81 91 +3.3%
Independent 3 0.00 0 +8.5%
Catholic 1 0.98 110 +0.0%
Marginal 1 0.01 1 +17.1%
Unaffiliated   0.12 13 n.a.

Churches MegaBloc Cong. Members Affiliates
Catholic C 40 61,453 110,000
Christian Evangelical P 422 16,112 56,000
Evang Protestant P 375 19,504 27,500
Assemblies of God (Fr) P 20 601 2,000
Evangelical Free P 22 410 1,000
Seventh-day Adventist P 2 512 960
Jehovah's Witnesses M 8 208 667
Norwegian Prot Mission P 20 240 600
Alliance Mission P 18 271 570
Seventh Day Baptist P 2 307 512
Assemblies of God (USA) P 17 125 350
Other denoms [12]   45 536 1,380
Total Christians [23]   991 100,300 202,000

Trans-bloc Groupings pop. % ,000 Ann.Gr.
Evangelical 0.8 91 +3.2%
Charismatic 0.2 19 +2.9%
  Pentecostal 0.0 2 +4.2%

Missionaries from Mali
P,I,A 95 in 7 agencies: 93 in Mali.

Missionaries to Mali
P,I,A 421 in 44 agencies from 27 countries: USA 215, Germany 35, Norway 33.

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Answers to Prayer

1 The progress of the gospel in the 1980s was praiseworthy:

a) The Church experienced accelerated growth – outstripping national population growth. The negative is the relative stagnation in the 1990s.

b) The number of missions and missionaries, both national and expatriate, more than doubled.

c) Islam has proved a disappointment to many, resulting in a greater openness to Christianity. There have been several large, localized people movements to Christ – among the Bambara (GMU area) and Bobo (CMA area).

d) Inter-Mission Partnerships have been formed for the evangelization of seven of the largest or most strategic peoples in Mali: the Bozo, Fulbe, Malinke, Soninke and Tuareg.

e) God has used economic migration to spread the Christians, and by extension, the gospel.

Challenges for Prayer

1 Missions have multiplied, and few areas of the country are untargetted, but the north has a much lower concentration of Christian work. For years there were only four Protestant missions – GMU in the centre among the Bambara, CMA in the east among the Dogon, Bobo, Minianka and Senufo, UWM in the west among the Malinke and Evangelical Baptists in the north among the Tuareg and Songhai. Only in the more receptive GMU and CMA areas have strong churches emerged. In the 1980s, over 20 missions began work in Mali, but it is still a pioneer country – less than 2% are Christians. Pray for more missionaries to be sent out with the gifts needed to complete the evangelization of Mali – numbers did not increase in the 1990s.

2 The ecological crisis of the Sahel has brought much help from Christian missions and aid organizations which is reducing prejudice to the gospel. Pray for the many agencies actively involved in relief; local development to conserve soil, vegetation and water; digging wells; and medical outreach. Even so, there are only 903 medical dispensaries of any kind in Mali in contrast to 1,001 Qur'anic schools. Pray that these ministries might bear much fruit in the form of a mature, witnessing church.

3 Both Protestants and Catholics have grown slowly but steadily in the last two decades with significant numbers of converts from a Muslim background. Evangelicals are strong only among the Bambara (0.9%), Bobo (2.9%), Dogon (3.2%), and Senufo/Minianka (3.8%), with groups of believers in 19 other peoples. Material poverty limits funds for training and supporting pastors so Bible schools in the country are struggling. Pray for the rapid growth of believers in maturity and numbers in this day of opportunity. Pray for a decisive breakthrough among the more Muslim peoples.

4 Peoples where pioneer work has been established, but for which prayer is requested:

a) The Bambara are a key people for the evangelization of the country. GMU, CMA, IMB-SBC and AoG all work among the Bambara with believers in most denominations. There have been small victories in evangelism, but no major breakthroughs. Pray for the spiritual and numerical growth of the church amongst this strategic people.

b) The Fulbe are scattered throughout Mali, but with high concentrations in the south, centre, and northwest. Several groups of believers are being discipled by CRWM/WEC, Pioneers and Norwegian Lutherans.

c) The Fulanke and Kasonke, though ethnically Fulbe, speak Malinke, and the Wassulunke speak Bambara, highlighting the need for distinct church-planting strategies. Of these, only the Kasonke are being reached (Norwegian Lutherans).

d) Peoples with virtually no Christians and no established workers: Maure, Jalunke, Kagoro, Tukulor, Wolof, etc.

e) Peoples where the work is in its beginning stages: Bozo, Gana, Duun, Maninka, Marka, Jotoni and Soninke. Several agencies are ministering to these peoples, but in most there are only a few believers.

f) The Northern peoples are more strongly Muslim, yet hard pioneering work has resulted in some scattered congregations and believers among the desert Tuareg and the riverine Songhai (Ev. Baptists). The Tuareg work was gravely impaired by their insurrection in the early 1990s. The Idaksahak are a distinct Muslim people living among the Tuareg who appear responsive but for whom there are few workers. A rough draft of a Tamacheq NT was completed in 1999; pray for its wise use.

g) The Dogon have long held to their traditional religion, but many are now looking for alternatives. Many are turning to Islam. While the Dogon are more evangelized than most groups in Mali through the ministry of CMA (with 200 churches), this is an unprecedented opportunity for the gospel that must not be missed.

5 Of the 34 ethnic groups, only four are more than 1% evangelical. All peoples are in desperate need of the good news. There are 11 groups with no known evangelical believers. Among them are the Jula, Maure, and Tukulor. Pray also for the smaller (therefore often neglected) groups with 25,000 people or less and with no known believers (Duun, Mossi, Wolof, Banka, Jotoni, Pana, Samoa). Ask God to reveal the right approach so that these people might be reached with the gospel.

6 Bamako, the capital and only major city in the country, has 50 small churches and 100 expatriate missionaries but only a handful are involved in urban church planting. Many suburbs are still without a meaningful witness. Pray that this strategic centre may be effectively evangelized.

7 Christian specialist and support ministries for prayer:

a) Bible translation. At least 12 languages may need translation or evaluation teams, and work is in progress in 15. Twenty-five of the SIL workers are involved in translation projects in 10 languages.

b) Cassette tapes. With such low literacy rates, these are a vital, and greatly appreciated, evangelistic and teaching tool. GRN has made recordings in 37 dialects and languages.

c) Christian programmes on Radio Mali. These have had a wide audience. There are 23 denomination-based radio stations and about 60 other Christian programmes are regularly broadcast on private stations. Pray that many might believe and be encouraged through this ministry.

d) Literature. GMU has a literature ministry in the capital and CMA in Koutiala. A book-table ministry in Kayes has provided Christian literature in several languages for over 10 years. Pray for literacy programmes and the production of suitable reading materials in the various indigenous languages, as well as for Bambara Christian literature.

e) The JESUS film has been a major instrument for opening up whole areas in the south for church planting. It is available in 11 languages with four more in production. Pray for the wise and effective use of this precious resource.

f) MAF and Sahel Aviation Service's flying and supportive ministries, a boon to the body of Christ. Pray for safety and effectiveness and for spiritual life to flow through these ministries. They also provide communications to isolated areas.

g) Student ministry. GBEEM(IFES) began in Mali in 1980, and by 1999 had over 300 members in 21 groups.

h) Bible correspondence courses are beginning to be used in the southern part of the country, and TEE classes are helping to train Christian leaders.

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