|Republic of Mauritius|
Area 2,040 sq.km. One larger and three smaller islands east of Madagascar in the western Indian Ocean. One of these, Rodrigues Island, is 500 km to the east of the others. Mauritius also claims Diego Garcia and the Chagos archipelago, which comprise the British Indian Ocean Territory.
Capital Port Louis 145,584. Urbanites 44%.
No indigenous peoples; all immigrants.
Indian 66%. Bhojpuri 336,000; Urdu-speakers 69,000; Tamil 31,000; Panjabi 26,000.
Creole 27.5%. Mixed African and European.
Chinese 3%. Majority are Hakka.
European 3%. Largely French, controlling sugar plantations and big business.
Other 0.5%. African immigrants.
Literacy 83%. Official Language English. All Languages 5. Languages with Scriptures 4Bi 1por 1w.i.p.
The once-dominant sugar and textile industries are being eclipsed by highly successful diversification and industrialization. Tourism, offshore banking and the use of Mauritius as a tax haven have become the main revenue generators. One of the most successful African economies. Unemployment 7.1%. HDI 0.764; 59th/174. Public debt 26% of GNP. Income/person $3,870 (12.3% of USA).
A French colony between 1715 and 1810, and then British until independence in 1968. The only African parliamentary democracy to have uninterrupted stability since 1960. Party politics are dominated by ethnic and religious divisions. The Hindu Indian bloc is in the majority, but this is resented by the other groups.
Freedom of religion compromised by strong tendency for Indianization and, by implication, Hinduism at the expense of Muslims and Christians. All religious and missionary activity directed to evangelizing Hindus or Muslims is regarded with disfavour. Persecution index 72nd in the world.
1 Evangelism is a challenge in this complex, multi-ethnic and multi-religious society. Pray for much wisdom and discernment. The Hindu-ization of government and culture, as well as strong ancestral and ethnic ties make it difficult for Indians to become believers. Nevertheless, large numbers of Hindus are coming to Jesus through the bold witness of evangelical/Pentecostal churches.
2 Most older churches are in gradual decline, and are traditional and nominal. Many Catholics are affected by the infiltration of Hindu beliefs and practices into the Church. The charismatic movement has made a big impact on Catholics, with many coming to personal faith in Christ. Many of those impacted have now formed their own independent groups. However, the Catholic Church is experiencing a move back to Bible reading, and they run several active ministries on the island.
3 Among Evangelicals, growth has been most rapid within the Pentecostal and charismatic groups. Other evangelicals and independent house groups are also experiencing more modest growth, but not without opposition. Subtle discrimination when applying for official permits, as well as more open hostility towards those who share the gospel is common. In this hyper-ecumenical atmosphere, proselytisers are painted as imperialistic and intolerant. The Church has often suffered from internal division, but the formation in 1995 of the Fellowship of Christian Churches in Mauritius was a major step forward in promoting Christian unity. Pray that Evangelicals might be united in their presentation of the gospel to non-Christians.
4 The training of leaders is of prime importance. The AoG School of Ministry offers programmes ranging from correspondence through to degree-level courses. TEE is being utilised by most denominations and there are several correspondence schools, one being the Emmaus BCC. The most exciting development is the birth of the Mauritian Bible Training Institute, an evangelical Bible school. MBTI, sponsored by SIM, has around 50-60 students with several satellite campuses. Praise the Lord for the development of Bible training, but pray also that Mauritius might receive more teachers of the Word who are well-trained models of godliness.
5 There is a great openness among young people. They are less bound by ethnic loyalties, but many are held back from open commitment by family pressures or liberal church leaders. Opportunities for ministry in schools and campuses are limited (the university is non-residential), but YFC, IFES and SU are seeking creative ways to reach students.
6 Missionary work in Mauritius is limited due to the difficulty of obtaining long-term visas and lack of appropriately trained personnel. Evangelical missions with personnel present: Presbyterians, AoG, SBC, SIM (2 each). Missionaries sent out from Mauritius are limited due to isolation and lack of missions vision. Pray that Mauritian believers may become more active in supporting world evangelization. Five Mauritians are serving overseas, 4 with WEC.
d) The Chinese community. Most Chinese have become Catholic. Evangelical believers number only around 600 in four or five congregations. Pray for the removal of the combined barriers of demonic powers and the drive for wealth that keep many from a full commitment to Christ.
e) The Chagos Islanders were evacuated to Mauritius from the British Indian Ocean Territories 1,700 km to the northeast in 1966-70, but have won the right to return. Almost all are Catholics. Pray for the return, resettlement and continued opportunities of these 5,000 Chagossians to hear and respond to the gospel.
b) Christian bookshops have grown from two in 1990 to nine in 2000. Despite this, Christian literature is not getting into the hands of unbelievers. Pray for the provision and distribution of appropriate Christian literature.
d) Christian radio broadcasts from FEBA-Seychelles are beamed to Mauritius almost 2 hours/week in French. The Catholics, Baptists and the SdA are all allotted time on the government station. An inter-church committee has been formed to produce programmes in Creole.
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