Republic of Senegal
October 5

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Area 196,722 Mainland Africa's most westerly state – arid and with few natural resources.

Population Ann.Gr. Density
2000 9,481,161 +2.62% 48 per sq. km.
2010 12,166,453 +2.48% 62 per sq. km.
2025 16,742,579 +1.94% 85 per sq. km.

The majority of the population live on the southern coast and around the capital.

Capital Dakar 2,350,000. Urbanites 43%.


Over 52 ethnic groups in three main linguistic families; only the largest are listed.

West Atlantic 88.7%.

Wolof(2) 42.5%. Wolof 3.7mill.; Lebu 130,000.

Fulbe (Fula, Pulaar)(5) 24.3%. Fulacunda 950,000; Tukulor 910,000; Fulbe Jeeri 350,000; Futa Jalon 100,000.

Serer(9) 14.8%. Sine 1.2m; Safi 48,000; Non 30,000.

Bak 5.3%. Jola (14) 430,000; Balanta 62,000.

Other(9) 1.8%. Manjak 80,000; Bainuk 22,000; Mankanya 20,000; Konyagi 14,000.

Mande (8) 8.4%. . Mandinka 310,000; Malinke 210,000; Soninke 135,000; Bambara 105,000; Jahanka 23,000; Susu 16,000.

Arab-Berber 0.6%. Maure 20,000, greatly reduced from 300,000 in 1989; Lebanese 20,000.

Other 2.3%.Cape Verdian 58,000; French, other African.

Literacy 33%. Official language French. Language of wider communication Wolof; spoken as first language by 44% of population. All languages 39. Languages with Scriptures 3Bi 3NT 6por 19w.i.p.


Subsistence agricultural economy. Main exports are peanuts, fish and phosphates. Considerable improvement during the 1990s but slowed by erratic rainfall and the Casamance unrest. HDI 0.426; 153rd/174. Public debt 65% of GNP. Income/person $3,410 (1.7% of USA).


Independent from France in 1960. A multi-party democracy with a peaceful transfer of power to the former opposition in 2000. The separatist conflict in the SW Casamance province has caused disruption and distress with 60,000 local people becoming refugees.


A secular state with freedom of religion despite the large Muslim majority. The three Muslim Sufi brotherhoods – the Mouride, Tidjane and Qadiri – have great influence in political and economic life.

Religions Population % Adherents Ann.Gr.
Muslim 92.07 8,729,305 +2.6%
Christian 4.76 451,303 +2.3%
Traditional ethnic 2.97 281,590 +2.3%
Baha'i 0.20 18,962 +8.7%

Christians Denom Affil.% ,000 Ann.Gr.
Protestant 20 0.10 9 +1.8%
Independent 6 0.15 14 +2.9%
Catholic 1 4.48 425 +2.3%
Marginal 1 0.02 2 +1.0%

Churches MegaBloc Cong. Members Affiliates
Catholic C 100 247,093 425,000
Lutheran (Finnish) P 56 1,976 3,300
Jehovah's Witnesses M 21 863 2,100
Assemblies of God P 49 950 1,250
Baptist (CBI) P 12 150 600
Evangelical (WEC) P 12 150 400
Baptist Convention P 7 175 400
Other denoms [21]   94 7,475 17,812
Total Christians [28]   351 258,832 451,000

Trans-bloc Groupings pop. % ,000 Ann.Gr.


7 +1.6%


16 +2.2%


1 +0.6%

Missionaries from Senegal
P,I,A 44 in 7 agencies to 3 countries: Senegal 40.

Missionaries to Senegal
P,I,A 482 in 45 agencies from 28 countries: USA 232, UK 48, Finland 31, Brazil 28, Canada 24, Switzerland 23.

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Challenges for Prayer

1 Islam grew from about 45% of the population in 1900 to over 92% in 2000. It is the religion of almost all the Wolof, Fulbe and Mande peoples. Praise God for religious freedom; tolerance for other religions being a source of pride – possibly because so few Muslims have ever come to Christ. Pray for a new receptivity to the gospel and the preservation of freedom of religion.

2 The three Muslim Sufi brotherhoods are well-organized wealthy and politically powerful; over 85% of all Muslims belong to one of them. The Mouride Brotherhood is virtually a state within a state based in their capital, Touba, and with a global economic empire in Europe and North America based on the peddling trade. Pray for a significant breakthrough for the gospel with key leaders meeting with the Lord Jesus Christ.

3 The Casamance in the south has been troubled by a guerilla war – the local Jola feeling disenfranchized and marginalized in the Wolof-dominated capital, Dakar. Pray that there might be the political will to reach a just settlement for all involved. Christian and economic activity has been disrupted for a decade.

4 Christians are confined to sections of the Serer, Jola and Cape Verdian peoples. There are also some congregations among smaller ethnic groups in the south. Their influence is disproportionately great through their input into health services and education. Sadly most are nominally Catholic and from a non-Muslim background. Their lifestyle often does no credit to the cause of Christ, for few know real freedom in Christ and victory over the powers of darkness. Muslims refer to Christians as 'those who drink' rather than those who follow Christ.

5 Evangelical believers are few, the rate of growth slow, and only among the Serer (FLM, AoG), Bassari (AoG), Balanta (WEC, AoG, NTM), and Jola (WEC, IMB-SBC) has there been any significant church planting. Believers are scattered, often poorly taught and under constant pressures from Muslim or animistic relatives to conform. The lack of believing girls tempts many young men to marry unbelievers or to immorality. Only now are stable congregations emerging after years of work. Pray for a strong church with a backbone of Christian families to be planted in each ethnic group.

6 Christian leaders are few, but an increasing number of young men are completing theological training at various levels. There are probably no more than 100 full-time national Christian workers. Institut Evangélique de Dakar (IED) is a cooperative effort with CBI, UWM, MTW, Brethren and two local churches. There are three other Bible schools in the country and YWAM runs a biennial six-month discipleship course. Pray that many more men of God may be raised up who can pastor believers and lead them out in effective evangelism.

7 Missions in Senegal have struggled for years without much fruit in the adult population, but among young people results have been more encouraging. WEC entered the Casamance in the south in 1936 among the Fulbe, in the 1950s to the Jola and Balanta, and later the predominantly Muslim Senegal River Valley in the north. Other pioneer missions have followed, and there are now 25 church-planting missions serving in the country. The largest are NTM (69 workers), WEC (53), YWAM (34), IMB-SBC (33), Finnish Lutherans (29), UWM (23), AoG (11). Pray for more long-term church planters called of God to serve in this needy but open land. Pray also for encouragement among the missionary teams; most are young, inexperienced and short on leadership in a difficult, unresponsive field. SIL (58), serving as an NGO, has an important presence in Senegal providing help in literacy, linguistic research and Bible translation in many language groups.

8 Major areas of the country are still very much pioneer situations.

a) Dakar is the home of a quarter of the population of Senegal. Every ethnic group is represented. In 1990 there were 15 evangelical groups but by 1996 this had reached 33 (27% Wolof-speaking, 14% Serer, 11% Jola and 20% foreign). Dakar is the mission base for most agencies, but only a few missionaries are actually committed to church planting. Pray for this city to become a source of gospel light for the whole country.

b) The Senegal River Valley in the north and northeast is a major development zone. Only a few missionaries are working on this strategic frontier with closed Mauritania, among the Tukulor, Maure, Wolof, Fulbe and Soninke (WEC, Lutherans, IMB-SBC, YWAM and others). There are some small groups of believers but no viable church in the entire area, and up-river only a handful of missionaries.

c) The central and eastern areas of Senegal are sparsely populated and unevangelized, as is the territory along the frontier of inland Gambia. There is an AoG church in Tambacounda, but the members are mostly Bassaris who have migrated there from another area seeking employment.

d) Young people. Many have flocked to the cities in search of education and employment. Their commitment to conservative Islam is not so great, and YWAM, Gideons and some churches are seeking to reach them. IMB-SBC, UWM and others have a youth work in Dakar. The small IFES group in Dakar is fervent, but most of the members are non-Senegalese. Recent political unrest and student dissatisfaction have restricted evangelistic outreach. Pray for an impact for God to be made on children and young people.

9 Unreached peoples. Pray for the planting of strong churches among the:

a) Wolof. Despite much effort by, and increasing cooperation among, the missionaries of AoG, CBI, IMB-SBC, Brethren, WEC, SIM and others, results have been meagre. There are possibly only about 100 believers and the beginnings of a few congregations. Pray that the advent of the Wolof New Testament, Jesus film and the patient friendship evangelism of Christian workers may break down the barriers preventing this proud people from seeking Jesus. Pray also for the breaking of the underlying spiritism which binds many and for the birth of a truly indigenous Wolof Church with its own hymnody and worship style.

b) Serer. Strongly fetishist until the 20th Century, now many are becoming Muslim or Catholic, and a good number Protestant – FLM, AoG, CBI, IMB-SBC and SIM have seen an encouraging response. Bible translation in three Serer languges (Ndut, Non, Safi) is underway (SIL, NTM, etc.)

c) Fulbe who are largely a pastoral people, some nomadic. Almost all are at least nominally Muslim. The Lutherans work among the northern Fulbe and WEC in the Casamance. In the latter area are two small congregations. The Fulacunda NT was published in 2000 (WEC).

d) Tukulor. Muslim for 900 years, and considering themselves as the defenders of that faith. It is a miracle that there are 15-20 believers (WEC, Lutherans, YWAM). The Tukulor NT was published in 1998.

e) Jola, speaking 14 major dialects and languages. Islam is more prevalent in the north of their area but all are bound by fetishism. There are now six Jola-led congregations and seven or more new, growing groups (WEC, CAPRO, IMB-SBC and others). The Kwatay NT was published in 2000. Pray for the failure of the new cycle of 30-year fetishist initiation ceremonies starting in this decade.

f) Maures. All are Muslim, with only a few known believers. The majority live in inaccessible Mauritania, though many can be reached in the Senegal River Valley (WEC). There is a weekly local church radio programme in the Hassaniya language.

g) Muslim Mande peoples. Those still totally unreached are: Mandinka, Jahanka, Bambara, Kassonke and Susu. Beginnings have been made among the Soninke (Pioneers, WEC, Korean Methodists) but results have yet to be seen.

h) The smaller peoples on the southern border. who are animistic or nominally Muslim. NTM has a major thrust to evangelize the Balanta-Ganja, Manjak, Budik, Bainuk, Badjaranke, Malinke and Jalonke, with plans also to reach the Mankanya. Some work has been done among the Konyagi (AoG), but the fetishist Mankanya, Bayot, Bainuk and Ganja are unreached. The work has been disrupted by the Casamance unrest.

10 Bible translation. Much was achieved in the 1980s and '90s. Six long-awaited New Testaments were published, namely Wolof (CBI, Brethren), Serer (Finnish Lutheran), Mandinka (WEC, Gambia), Tukulor (SIL), Fulacunda (WEC) and Bassari (AoG). Pray for a wide dissemination and deep impact on readers. Work on 19 other New Testaments is in hand; pray especially for work on several Jola languages (WEC, SIL). The Wolof OT is being translated and there are plans for translating the OT into Tukulor and Fulacunda.

11 Specialist Christian ministries for prayer:

a) Literature. Several agencies are seeking to publish and distribute affordable French Christian literature (SBIS, SU, etc.). Reading rooms have been a major outreach tool to Muslims in many urban centres. Pray for meaningful conversations with enquirers. Pray for the publication and distribution of effective Christian literature.

b) The JESUS film has been widely used all over the country in 10 languages. A further 8 languages are in preparation.

c) Cassette tape ministries. GRN has recordings available in 33 languages. Scripture on tape has been particularly effective for the Wolof and Serer.

d) Christian radio programmes can be broadcast on national and local stations. Pray that churches and missions may make full use of this medium (IMB-SBC, WEC, Brethren). HCJB broadcast 15 minutes in Wolof 5 days/week.

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