Namibia
Republic of Namibia
August 22
Africa


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GEOGRAPHY

Area 823,144 sq.km. Predominantly arid, semi-desert; the driest African land south of the equator.

Population Ann.Gr. Density
2000 1,725,868 +2.26% 2 per sq. km.
2010 1,915,827 +0.87% 2 per sq. km.
2025 2,337,592 +1.43% 3 per sq. km.

Most people live on the central plateau and the better-watered northern border regions adjoining Angola.

Capital Windhoek 250,000. Urbanites 39%.

PEOPLES

Five major groupings and 28 languages.

Bantu 73.1%. Ovambo 870,000 (half the population in 6 ethnic groups; politically dominant); Kavango 166,000 (Kwangali and Hambukushu); Herero 138,000 (also Dhimba and Himba); Caprivi peoples (3) 80,000; Tswana 8,000.

Khoisan 8.6%. Nama 104,000; San (10) 45,000.

Damara 6.4%. A non-Khoisan people that speaks Nama.

European 4.5%. Afrikaner 60,000; German 13,000; English-speakers 11,000.

Mixed Race 7%. Afrikaans-speaking.

Other 0.4%.

Literacy 76%. Official language English, though few speak it, most speaking Afrikaans. All languages 28. Languages with Scriptures 9Bi 3NT 3por 1w.i.p.

ECONOMY

Mining diamonds, uranium and many other minerals, cattle ranching and fishing are all important. Many still live in deep poverty. Serious droughts afflicted the country during the 1990s. Unemployment 30%+. HDI 0.638; 115th/174. Public debt 20% of GNP. Income/person $2,110 (7% of USA), but big disparities between rich and poor.

POLITICS

A German colony 1883-1915. Ruled by South Africa 1915-1990. Independence gained in 1990 after a long, costly war which severely disrupted the social and economic fabric of the country. The major party, SWAPO, renounced Marxism and espoused multi-party democracy and a mixed economy. A member of the British Commonwealth.

RELIGION

Secular state with freedom of religion. Despite the high profile of Christian denominations, non-Christian religions are being granted similar opportunities in schools and in the media.

Religions Population % Adherents Ann.Gr.
Christian 79.95 1,379,831 +1.9%
Traditional ethnic 15.00 258,880 +3.2%
non-Religious/other 5.00 86,293 +4.9%
Jewish 0.05 863 -4.4%

Christians Denom. Affil. % ,000 Ann.Gr.
Protestant 36 41.43 715 +7.5%
Independent 111 11.60 200 +5.1%
Anglican 1 3.36 58 -3.7%
Catholic 1 15.93 275 +0.4%
Marginal 2 0.15 3 -2.9%
Unaffiliated   7.48 129 n.a.

Churches MegaBloc Cong. Members Affiliates
Evangelical Lutheran P 110 208,800 522,000
Catholic C 144 164,671 275,000
Anglican A 89 11,600 58,000
Uniting Ref Ch of S.A. P 133 33,950 53,850
Protestant Unity I 210 20,958 35,000
Seventh-day Adventist P 47 10,932 22,000
Ovambo Independent I 60 9,009 20,000
Rhenish Ch in Namibia P 14 9,500 19,000
Full Gospel Ch of God P 45 7,120 14,000
Herero I 60 5,988 10,000
African Methodist Epis I 39 3,135 9,500
Baptist Conv. of N P 49 3,815 8,000
Other Protestant [16] P 57 4,000 8,000
Evangelical Bible P 22 4,500 7,500
German Lutheran P 20 4,000 7,000
United Congregational P 7 2,163 2,879
Jehovah's Witnesses M 19 963 2,300
Other denoms [120]   1,260 101,000 178,000
Total Christians [152]   2,385 606,000 1,252,000

Trans-bloc Groupings pop. % ,000 Ann.Gr.
Evangelical 10.3 179 +11.3%
Charismatic 4.2 72 +2.2%
  Pentecostal 1.6 28 +0.5%

Missionaries from Namibia
P,I,A 26 in 4 agencies – mainly in Namibia.

Missionaries to Namibia
P,I,A 259 in 40 agencies from 15 countries: South Africa 132, USA 47, Germany 22.



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Answers to Prayer

1 Stability and some economic progress marked the post-independence 1990s despite the fears of many for ethnic strife and economic collapse. The scars of the colonial and apartheid past are gradually healing. There was much united prayer by Christians at the time. There is a significant national prayer movement.

Challenges for Prayer

1 The potential for economic collapse and strife is high if there is a failure in political leadership. Pray for the government and its leaders.

2 Namibia for long had the highest percentage of Christians for any country in Africa. The early labours of German and Finnish Lutheran and then Anglican missionaries gave birth to large denominations. The influence of liberal and then black theology eroded that spiritual heritage, and true discipleship and holy living are now in short supply and nominalism widespread. There is a noticeable turning away from Christianity and a lack of openness to the gospel. Pray for a unity, based on Scripture and bathed in the Spirit, that will bring reconciliation and revival.

3 The evangelical witness has been strengthened in recent years through new missionary thrusts by the NGK, SIM (formerly AEF)/AIM, YWAM, Baptists and Pentecostals to areas and peoples only superficially touched by the gospel. Charismatic fellowships – both independent and within many denominations – have brought new life and fervour. The Namibia Evangelical Fellowship was formed in 1989 and has over 180 members but has struggled to maintain a significant voice in the religious life of the country. Pray for healthy and effective cooperation among believers in evangelism, deepening the spirituality of the churches and speaking out as a prophetic voice to the nation.

4 Leadership training. The major denominational seminary in the country has been much influenced by black and liberation theology to the spiritual impoverishment of students going into the ministry. The result: accelerated nominalization of the churches, lowering of moral standards for leaders and followers, and reliance on occultism rather than the Lord. Pray for the only evangelical diploma and degree level training facility in the country – Namibia Evangelical Theological Seminary in Windhoek (SIM/AIM, NGK).

5 African Independent Churches are strong among the Herero, Basters, Damara and Nama, bringing compromise with the ancestor worship and witchcraft of their forebears and hostility to the gospel. Pray for the tactful ministry of the NGK, AIM and SIM missionaries and Namibian Christians by means of teaching, radio and help ministries which are bringing many leaders to a living faith in Christ.

6 There are serious social issues that must be addressed by Christians. The government has not the resources to handle these and the churches have not risen to the challenges of:

a) Poverty with large disparities between the rich and poor and over 30% unemployment. Ovamboland in the north is particularly affected. Many flock to the cities seeking work, causing shanty towns to multiply.

b) AIDS. This has become a silent and largely ignored calamity with between 20-25% of adults and young people infected and already 67,000 AIDS orphans. SU's Aid for AIDS programme is one of the few effective efforts to address the root problems of the epidemic.

c) The legacy of apartheid and war – their scars and distortions affect nearly every ethnic group. These require spiritual solutions. Pray for full reconciliation and healing of the past through faith in Christ.

7 Young people have become much more materialistic and are rejecting Christianity as irrelevant to their needs. Substance abuse, immorality and the rapid spread of HIV are the result. Christian camps are struggling to attract young people. Pray for innovative and effective ministry by churches and agencies. YWAM and SU have expanding programmes to them. IFES pioneered work in the 1990s with active groups in the university and in polytechnic colleges and expanding in the north. Pray for fruit.

8 Missionaries in both older and newer missions need acute sensitivity and understanding as they minister within the new context of independence. Major missions are: NGK (66 workers), Finnish Lutheran (47), YWAM (36), SIM/AIM (28), IMB-SBC (16).

9 The less-evangelized peoples:

a) The San (Bushmen) – much romanticized but in reality a suffering people. Marginalized, generally landless farm labourers or squatters, and often affected by alcoholism. They need spiritual and physical help. The NGK has laboured for years, and there were 5 congregations among the Heikum, Kxoe and Kung and 6 pastors in 1993.

b) The peoples of the Kavango and Caprivi Strip in the north-east – the Yeyi, Mafue, Subiya and Hambukushu. Many are animists or Adventists. AIM/SIM have planted a number of churches among the Hambukushu (3 with 150 believers), Luchazi and Lozi.

c) The Himba (5,000) and Dhimba (15,000) are offshoots of the Herero people in the barren north-east and in south-west Angola. Nearly all are animist and a few Lutheran and Reformed Christians. Bible translation into Dhimba is progressing slowly.

d) The German- and English-speaking communities are more influenced by secular humanism. Over 60% of the Germans have no link with a church. Pray for the evangelical churches among them.

10 Christian help ministries:

a) Bible translation. All the major languages have full Bibles. The Namibia Bible Society is involved in revisions of these, the completion of the Mbukushu Bible and translation into one of the San languages and into Dhimba.

b) Christian literature for local languages and away from main centres is scarce. Christian Mobile Literature, SU and YWAM all have bookstores.

c) MAF-Canada operates a flying ministry from Windhoek – mainly to Angola. Pray for its development as a service to the church.

d) The JESUS film sound-tracks have been prepared by Media for Christ in 8 Namibian languages and is in preparation in a further three. Pray for lasting results from the showing of this film.

e) Christian radio. Programmes on the national network have had a remarkable impact counteracting liberal theology, restoring evangelicalism to mainline churches, and opening up resistant peoples such as the Herero to biblical teaching. Most of the 60 hours of religious programming every week has been evangelical in content, but since 1991 this has been reduced with mainline churches taking control of content. Media for Christ gained permission to start a Christian radio station. Pray for the continued development of this ministry. TWR-Swaziland broadcasts in both English and Afrikaans to Namibia.

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