Niger
Republic of Niger
August 29
Africa


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GEOGRAPHY

Area 1,186,408 sq.km. Sahara desert in centre and north. Only the southwest and a narrow strip along the Nigerian border in the south are savannah grasslands.

Population Ann.Gr. Density
2000 10,730,102 +3.24% 9 per sq. km.
2010 14,485,881 +3.00% 12 per sq. km.
2025 21,495,434 +2.44% 18 per sq. km.

Capital Niamey 1,000,000. Urbanites 17%.

PEOPLES

All peoples 36.

Chadic 46.3%. Hausa (6): Tazarawa 2,247,000; Adarawa 968,000; Arewa 924,000; Mauri 376,000; Kurfey 204,000.

Nilo-Saharan 27%. 15 peoples:

Southern Songhai(5): Zarma (Djerma) 1,600,000; Kado 353,000; Dendi 73,000; Kurtey 32,000; Wogo 28,000. Northern Songhai(3): Semi-nomadic Tihishit(2) 30,000 and settled Tasaweq (Bingalli) 9,000. Kanuri(3): Manga 633,000; Mober 61,000; Tumari 14,000. Tubu(2): Daza 93,000; Teda 21,000.

Tuareg 12.2%. Six ethnic groups; three languages: Tamajaq-Tayert 565,000; Tamajaq-Tawellemenet 518,000; Tamajaq-Tahaggart 11,000.

Fulbe (Fula) 10%. The more settled Sokoto 750,000; the largely nomadic Bororo and Wodaabe 225,000.

Arab 2.3%. Shuwa nomads 67,000; Algerians, Lebanese, etc.

Gur 1.3%. Mossi 107,000; Gurma 67,000.

Other 0.9%. Nigerians, Togolese, French.

Literacy 17%. Official language French. Language of wider communication Hausa. All languages 21. Languages with Scriptures 3Bi 5NT 4por 8w.i.p.

ECONOMY

Mining of uranium and other minerals has brought some economic development to this impoverished land, but in the 1980s the Sahel famine, collapse of the uranium market and Nigeria's closure of the common border devastated the economy. Ninety per cent of the population live at bare subsistence level at the best of times. HDI 0.298; 173rd/174. Public debt 68% of GNP. Income/person $200 (0.9% of USA).

POLITICS

For centuries the Tuareg dominated much of the Sahel. French colonial rule 1921-1960. Military regimes with a number of coups. A brief period of democratic rule 1993-96 presaged the democratic government formed in 1999. There has been Tuareg insurgency in the north for some years.

RELIGION

A non-confessional state with considerable freedom of religion and few restrictions on mission work. Islamic fundamentalists are pushing for change and imposition of shari'a law. Persecution index 68th in the world.

Religion Population % Adherents Ann.Gr.
Muslim 97.59 10,471,507 +3.9%
Traditional ethnic 2.00 214,602 -14.0%
Christian 0.40 42,920 +5.4%
Baha'i 0.01 1,073 n.a.

Christians Denom. Affil.% ,000 Ann.Gr.
Protestant 13 0.12 12 +11.9%
Independent 18 0.09 9 +2.2%
Catholic 1 0.18 20 +4.1%
Marginal 1 0.01 1 +4.8%

Churches MegaBloc Cong. Members Affiliates
Catholic C 21 9,000 19,600
Evangelical P 106 2,000 5,000
Union of Evang Prot P 46 1,125 2,700
Assemblies of God P 22 1,000 2,000
Evangelical Baptist P 11 550 1,100
Jehovah's Witnesses M 7 232 1,000
Salama Evangelical I 10 300 750
Ev. Christian Assemblies I 9 300 750
Abundant Life I 12 360 720
Other denoms [24]   70 5,924 8,765
Total Christians [33]   314 20,791 42,385

Trans-bloc Groupings pop. % ,000 Ann.Gr.
Evangelical 0.1 14 +10.0%
Charismatic 0.1 10 +5.0%
  Pentecostal 0.0 2 +13.5%

Missionaries from Niger
P,I,A 45 in 8 agencies, nearly all in Niger.

Missionaries to Niger
P,I,A 343 in 35 agencies from 29 countries: USA 128, Brazil 36, UK 32, Nigeria 21.



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Answers to Prayer

1 The firstfruits of conversions from among the Wodaabe Fulbe and Manga Kanuri Muslims.

2 Many churches have been planted through the impact of humanitarian help by Christians through well-digging, leprosy control and health services.

3 The establishment of an evangelical movement which is united, visionary and cross-denominational – the Alliance of Evangelical Churches and Missions (AMEEN).

4 The great increase of churches in Niamey – from 1 evangelical church in 1975 to over 50 in 2000.

Challenges for Prayer

1 This Muslim land is open for the gospel, and Muslims are more receptive than ever before, yet response has been small and church growth slow. Islam is strong and well-organized. There is an Islamic university 54km from Niamey. Pray that the land may remain open, and that every social, religious and spiritual barrier to the knowledge of the Lord may be removed. The spiritual effects of folk Islam and demonic oppression are a major hindrance to people coming to Christ.

2 The number of professing Christians has actually declined since independence – largely because many of the Catholics were French expatriates who have now left the country. Evangelicals have steadily grown but are still a very small minority. There are groups of churches among the Hausa (SIM, etc.), Gurma and Zarma (Ev. Baptists), and the beginnings among the Tuareg, Wodaabe and Manga. Pray that there might be a significant increase in those openly confessing Christ and in churches planted.

3 Significant prayer challenges:

a) Many believers are isolated, often illiterate and rarely have systematic Bible teaching available.

b) There are not enough mature leaders – there have been a number of denominational splits.

c) Leadership training – the EERN (SIM-related) runs two middle-level Bible schools and two basic Bible schools. There are also many small Bible training schools in the country, run by six different denominations. Pray for effective ways to train more leaders and give further training to those in pastoral work.

4 This pioneer land still needs missionaries for all parts of the country. The loving ministry of Christian aid missionaries has won credibility for the gospel and increased interest and response from both Muslims and animists. Pray for more labourers. The major mission agencies: SIM (154), WH (43), AoG (38), IMB-SBC (16), SIL (15), YWAM (10), Evangelical Baptists (4). There is a growing contribution from missions from Nigeria (CAPRO, EMS). Pray for sensitivity in helping the small, young churches and their leaders to maturity.

5 The least reached of Niger. Pray for:

a) The Tuareg, once rich, but now impoverished and resentful due to drought, famine, changing trade patterns and political changes. The selfless ministry of a partnership of missionaries from SIM, the Baptists, Sahara Desert Mission and others has opened the hearts of some, and there are some groups of believers. SIM and SIL missionaries are translating the Scriptures; the Tamacheq New Testament was published in 1991. YWAM and WH also have a commitment to reach these people. Tuareg customs and their unique alphabet hint at a possible once-Christian heritage.

b) The Zarma, who are Muslim but strongly influenced by traditional practices. Only a few hundred believers are known. Evangelical Baptist missionaries have laboured long but no significant breakthrough has yet come among this resistant people.

c) The five Kanuri peoples have a long history of 1,000 years of Islam. Missionaries of SIM, SIL, WH, etc., have recently seen a change. Manga Christians, though still few, are seeing their numbers grow from near zero. Scripture portions are available and more of God's Word is in preparation (SIL, SIM).

d) The Fulbe (Fulani), both the settled Sokoto and nomadic Wodaabe Fulbe of the west, and the less Islamized nomadic Fulbe across the whole country. SIM has 12 workers committed to the Fulbe. There have recently been an increasing number of conversions among the Wodaabe; there were over 60 believers in 1991 and 350 in 2000.

e) The Songhai were reached out to by SIM in 1989. Two couples are now working among them. A few have been won to Christ and a congregation has been formed.

f) The Tubu peoples in the east. SIL is working on a translation for the Daza language and five national workers are ministering among them.

6 There may be over 14 unreached peoples with no work among them, but investigations are underway for ministry among the Sokoto Fulbe, the Kanuri-Mober (SIM). The Kanuri-Tumari, Arabs (SIM), Kurfey, Mauri, Tyenga, Dendi, Kurtey, Wogo and the Kado Songhai. Pray that teams may be called and formed for each of these peoples.

7 Bible translation and distribution. The Zarma Bible was published in 1991. Pray for an impact to be made; 25% of Niger's population understand Zarma. SIL workers are committed to translation programmes in Tamajaq-Tawellemmet, Kanuri-Manga, Kanuri-Tumari, Fulbe (Fulfulde) and Tubu-Daza. There are three definite, and possibly two other, languages into which translation is necessary.

8 Young people have been the most responsive, yet little has been done to minister to this key section of the nation. There is a small GBEEN(IFES) group in the university and 13 groups in colleges and schools with 70 members. The Navigators and CCCI also have ministries in Niger. Pray for a deep and lasting impact through campus ministries.

9 Specialist Christian ministries in Niger:

a) SIM's medical ministry through the Galmi hospital and also in Danja through leprosy control has successfully opened hearts for the Gospel.

b) The many prostitutes in the capital are the focus of a significant outreach by CAPRO.

c) Christian literature. Poverty and illiteracy are severe limitations. There are just two Christian bookstores in the country.

d) The audio-media ministry which has been inadequately funded or exploited. GRN have prepared messages in 34 languages/dialects of Niger. Cassettes are an important ministry to nomads.

e) The JESUS film has been widely viewed in 5 languages; a further 8 are in preparation.

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