South Africa
Republic of South Africa
October 12-14

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Area 1,218,363 A republic with nine provinces at the southernmost point of Africa. Relatively well-watered in the east; arid with increasing desertification towards the west coast.

Population Ann.Gr. Density
2000 40,376,579 +1.51% 33 per sq. km.
2010 42,514,924 +0.32% 35 per sq. km.
2025 46,015,286 +0.64% 38 per sq. km.

Nearly one million not born in South Africa. Estimates for illegal immigrants from other African countries range from 4 million to 12 million.

Capital Cape Town (legislative) 2.6 million. Pretoria (administrative) 1.7m; Bloemfontein (judicial) 325,000. Other major cities: Johannesburg/Rand 5.6m; Durban 2.8m; Port Elizabeth 1.2m; Vereeniging 1.2m. These figures are likely to be low due to the massive population of migrants living in informal housing. Urbanites 54%.


African 76.7%. Majority in 7 provinces:

Nguni 44.3% in five groups: Zulu 9.1m; Xhosa 7.1m; Swazi 1m; Ndebele(2) 565,000.

Sotho 25% in 3 groups: Tswana 3.3m; Pedi (N. Sotho) 3.7m; Sotho 3.1m.

Other 7.4%. Tsonga 1.7m; Venda 890,000.

Caucasian 10.9%; declining through emigration and lower birth rate. Afrikaner 2.4m; English-speaking 1.4m; Portuguese 500,000; Greek 70,000; German 40,000.

Coloured (mixed race) 8.9%.90% live in the northern and Western Cape. Cape Malays are considered part of this community.

Asian 2.6%.Over 75% in KwaZulu Natal. South Asians 1.1m; Chinese 40,000.

Other 0.9%.Migrant labour and illegal immigrants.

Literacy 82%. Functional literacy is much lower at around 62%. National languages 11 – all the major ethnic languages. English and Afrikaans are the main languages in higher education. All languages 32. Languages with Scriptures 19Bi 1NT 1w.i.p.


The richest and most industrialized country in Africa (25% of Africa's GNP, 40% of its industrial output). The world's biggest exporter of non-petroleum minerals – especially gold, platinum, chrome, diamonds and coal. Well diversified, industrial economy. Lack of oil, water and an erratic rainfall hinder growth. The post-apartheid government promised to stimulate development, initiate affirmative action to further African economic progress and open up the economy. The economy has not grown sufficiently to improve employment, housing, education and give hope for the future to the impoverished majority. The burgeoning AIDS calamity is damaging growth. Unemployment 25% (38% for youth and may be much higher). HDI 0.695; 101st/174. Public debt 9% of GNP. Income/person $3,210 (10% of USA) – but big disparities between wealthy and poor.


The Union of South Africa was formed in 1910. A white minority parliamentary republic was created in 1961. The infamous 'apartheid' system politically and economically marginalized non-whites and brought untold pain and suffering to the majority. A worsening economic climate, increasing political isolation, a deteriorating security situation and the ending of the Cold War all triggered rapid changes in the 1980s. The last laws undergirding apartheid were repealed in 1991 and the country's first free national democratic elections took place in 1994. Nelson Mandela's government worked hard to set up a free, non-racial government and constitution, and initiate the long healing process with commendable successes. Much disillusionment has set in due to the slow rate of change, limited economic growth and increasing crime and corruption.


Freedom of religion. A strong push to give all religions equal say has given high profile to the ethnic African religions, Islam, Hinduism, humanism and the interfaith movement at the expense of Christianity.

Religions Population % Adherents Ann.Gr.
Christian 73.52 29,684,861 +1.2%
Traditional ethnic 15.00 6,056,487 +0.8%
non-Religious/other 8.08 3,262,428 +6.5%
Muslim 1.45 585,460 +2.8%
Hindu 1.25 504,707 +0.4%
Baha'i 0.50 201,883 +1.5%
Jewish 0.17 68,640 +1.5%
Buddhist/Chinese 0.03 12,113 +10.1%

Christians Denom. Affil.% ,000 Ann.Gr.
Protestant 185 21.06 8,502 -0.3%
Independent 4,589 37.99 15,339 +2.6%
Anglican 2 3.96 1,600 -4.8%
Catholic 1 8.35 3,372 +2.4%
Orthodox 4 0.12 48 +6.3%
Marginal 12 0.54 218 +1.0%
Unaffiliated   1.50 605 n.a.

Churches MegaBloc Cong. Members Affiliates
Zion Christian [3] I 4,800 2,100,000 4,200,000
Catholic C 902 2,107,807 3,372,492
Ch of Prov of SA (Ang) A 1,200 389,610 1,500,000
Methodist P 4,500 462,379 1,462,379
Dutch Reformed (NGK) P 1,164 900,000 1,227,621
Uniting Ref Ch in SA P 734 650,000 1,205,943
Apost. Faith Miss (AFM) P 2,200 500,000 1,000,000
Assemblies of God I 2,000 320,000 1,000,000
Evang Luth Ch in S.A. P 1,693 460,478 769,000
12 Apostles Ch in Christ I 3,196 361,111 650,000
Full Gospel Ch of God P 1,247 263,469 400,000
Presbyterian Ch of Afr. I 300 100,000 350,000
New Apostolic I 1,598 230,393 345,589
Dutch Reformed (NHK) P 325 169,000 300,000
Int'l Fell of Chr Chs I 362 180,000 300,000
United Congregational P 345 183,846 270,253
Pentecostal Protestant P 700 110,000 160,000
Jehovah's Witnesses M 1,331 67,069 155,000
Presbyterian Ch of SA I 266 79,000 150,000
Seventh-day Adventist P 576 58,291 140,000
Baptist Union of S.A. [2] P 423 49,402 112,402
Reformed (GK) P 286 75,000 101,159
Moravian [2] P 55 31,400 100,200
Ch of England in SA A 160 10,481 100,000
Reformed Presbyterian P 102 42,400 90,000
Africa Evangelical P 214 18,402 60,000
Baptist Convention P 130 32,800 55,000
Pentecostal Holiness P 525 35,645 49,900
Salvation Army P 145 16,556 45,000
Ch of the Nazarene P 481 27,000 37,162
Evangelical Bible [3] P 260 22,000 35,000
Zulu Congregational I 44 15,000 23,000
Other denoms [4,760]   8,284 4,074,086 9,332,000
Total Christians [4,800]   40,548 14,142,600 29,080,000

Trans-bloc Groupings pop. % ,000 Ann.Gr.
Evangelical 19.3 7,774 +2.1%
Charismatic 24.4 9,862 +2.1%
  Pentecostal 8.4 3,384 +2.5%

Missionaries from South Africa
P,I,A 2,622 in 126 agencies of which 1,494 are in 100 other countries.

Missionaries to South Africa
P,I,A 1,258 in 140 agencies from 40 countries: USA 538, Germany 139, UK 136, Korea 54, Canada 52.

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Answers to Prayer

1 Transition from white rule and apartheid to a non-racial democracy was achieved relatively peacefully rather than the feared bloodbath. The courage of F.W. de Klerk, the magnanimity of Nelson Mandela and the prayers of God's people were key components in this.

2 The institution of a functioning democracy and two successful general elections in 1994 and 1999.

3 Strenuous efforts by local churches to roll back the centuries of discrimination, oppression and pain have borne fruit. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission under Archbishop Desmond Tutu was one means to begin addressing the wrongs of the past. There is a great distance to go, but praise God for what has been achieved.

4 The massive growth of global vision and multiplication of South African mission involvement by all communities after the ending of South Africa's diplomatic isolation in 1993. Innovative strategies for sending and support have been developed. In 1993 there were 650 South Africans serving abroad. That number had reached 1,870 in 1999.

5 The multiplication of Christian ministries to help the disadvantaged – slum-dwellers, unemployed, the victims of rape, crime and AIDS, etc., has been a remarkable testimony.

Challenges for Prayer

1 The need for stable government. The euphoria of the 'New' South Africa has worn off. Pray for all in leadership that wise decisions, fair laws and economic betterment may be the hallmark. There are too many African examples of demagoguery, decline, corruption and cronyism for there to be any complacency. There are many committed Christians at every level in society.

2 The need for ongoing healing and reconciliation. The legacy of contempt, mistrust, fear, injustice, violence, intimidation and deep hurt has scarred the soul of the nation. Pray for a healthy balance between non-racialism and affirmative action (favouring the previously disadvantaged) in education, the economy, employment and leadership.

3 The need for economic betterment. There are extremes of wealth and poverty with the attendant evils of corruption, crime. Tangible improvements are needed to head off a future explosion. Pray that the available resources may be best used for the good of all.

4 The need for effective policing and administration of justice. The escalating crime wave has shocked the nation (200,000 murders in the 1990s), limited foreign investment and restrained the flow of tourists. The major growth industry is security. Violent robberies, car-hijacking and rape are commonplace. The country has a murder rate over seven times that of the USA and few crimes end up with convictions. The police force is discouraged, under-trained and under-equipped to cope. Pray that both this epidemic and underlying malaise might be healed. Pray for Christian ministries among children at risk, jobless young people, prisoners and to the police force, to bear much fruit.

5 AIDS has become the primary cause of death. Daily 1,200 victims are buried. There were 420,000 AIDS orphans in 2000. Over 20% of the adult population and a third of all teachers are infected. The economy is increasingly affected through loss of skills and time off work. The age expectancy of the population has fallen rapidly and medical services cannot cope. Pray that this terrible pandemic might be tamed and that Christians might be used of God in caring for the victims and raising moral and family standards to prevent its spread. There are dozens of Christian agencies and NGOs, as well as many churches, active in this field.

6 Biblical Christianity continues to thrive and has grown in influence despite the post-Christian moral slide in society.

a) There has been much enthusiasm, multiplied prayer networks and vigorous outreach in evangelism, missions and social concern. There is a bewildering variety of Christian agencies springing up to minister to needy sections of society. The Caring for the Poor and Needy Network mobilizes churches for prayer and to initiate ministries with the poor.

b) Pentecostal denominations have flourished among all communities growing from 400,000 in 1960 to 1.1 million in 1980, and then to 3.5 million in 2000. Notable has been the ministry of the AoG (Back to God), Apostolic Faith Mission, Full Gospel Church of God and others.

c) Charismatic networks have multiplied among all population groups and had a significant impact with a wide range of ministries and mission outreach. Over one million Christians are linked to such as the Rhema Churches and the Hatfield Christian Church network.

d) Mainline denominations have, in parts, been transformed by new vision, structures and outreach. The cell church movement has had significant impact. The NGK (DRC) has many mega-churches, much increase in missions output and renewal in many congregations.

e) The massive growth of African Independent/Indigenous Churches to 32% of the African population – 10 million people linked to possibly 4,500 to 6,000 church groups (many being of one congregation only) which range from evangelical/Pentecostal to highly syncretistic.

7 Challenges for South African Christians. Pray for:

a) Adaptability in the face of rapid social change. South Africa has become a pluralist society and Christians are no longer tied to the power structures. Denominations and congregations that cannot adapt are losing people – many traditional and even evangelical denominations are in decline.

b) A prophetic voice for the Church in a society that no longer holds to moral absolutes, and where the post-Christian worldview holds centre stage in the media and has pushed through legalization of abortion, pornography, prostitution and gambling. Homosexuality is actively promoted.

c) Deep reconciliation. Evangelicals were reluctant to challenge the evils of apartheid. There still remain divisions and unfinished business. A number of denominations, including the NGK, AFM, Full Gospel and Baptists have gone through painful periods of dealing with the past. There has been the formation of a united evangelical voice in the launch of The Evangelical Alliance of South Africa in 1995. There is, however, a long way to go before trust and understanding are built, and meaningful cooperation developed across cultural barriers. Pray that the whole Church may be able to lay the sad past to rest and envision the future together.

d) Revival in mainline denominations. Whilst there is much spiritual life, there is also much traditionalism, nominalism and 'churchianity' in the Dutch Reformed family of churches, Anglicans, Methodists and others.

8 The training of Christian leaders is a multi-faceted challenge. Much is being done, but much remains to be done.

a) There are 49 theological, degree-awarding university faculties and seminaries and 50 or more residential Bible Colleges with over 6,000 students (14% foreign) and over 1,000 lecturers. Finances to support this abundance is a challenge to churches, students and the institutions themselves. Since 1997 there has been a decline in numbers because of this. Many larger, newer churches have also set up their own Bible training programmes.

b) Distance learning, or TEE, is a cost-effective alternative, but to many Africans who need it most, it is seen as a second-class option. In 1999 nearly 22,000 were involved in TEE programmes provided by about 28 different centres.

c) The numerous African Independent Churches (AICs) are often pastored by those with little education. Many of these churches are more influenced by African customs and world-view, and can be highly syncretistic. Yet these leaders can be very open to appropriate, sensitively applied, teaching and brought to a more biblical understanding. Increasing numbers of Christian educators are concentrating on providing this needful but often frustrating ministry. Pray that this extraordinary and significant movement may retain the best of African culture yet become biblical and accountable to the wider Body of Christ.

9 Ministry challenges for the Church in South Africa:

a) AIDS victims. This horrendous pandemic is silently destroying swathes of society. Only Christians have a meaningful message of eternal hope and the moral foundation to prevent its spread. Pray for Christians involved in caring for victims, orphans and bereaved and in challenging young people to change their lifestyle.

b) Urbanites. The dismantling of apartheid legislation ended decades of enforced rural poverty among Africans. Millions moved to the cities and over a fifth of all Africans live in 'informal' housing or in vast squatter camps and slums even though the government has done much to improve the housing situation. It is a challenge for churches to find building sites for urban congregations. Many Africans live in huge suburbs that became household names around the world – Soweto and Alexandra (Johannesburg), Kwa Mashu (Durban), Gugulethu (Cape Town), Sharpeville, etc. Pray for:

i) The churches, believers and their witness in a society full of social stress, where tribal and family authority has broken down, and where political, ethnic and criminal violence is commonplace. Rape, teenage pregnancies and murder are perpetrated unchecked, and AIDS is a scourge. Pray that they may be protected, given grace to stand for Jesus and be lights for Him in these very places.

ii) Evangelistic outreach through churches and agencies (Assemblies of God, African Enterprise, Dorothea Mission, Africa for Christ Evangelistic Association, Gospel Ambassadors for Christ, etc.). The major new challenge is the evangelization of the new squatter settlements which leads to church planting. Much is being done locally, and church growth in them is fast.

c) Young people and children – over 45% of the population is under 20. Youth ministry is vital for South Africa's future spiritual health.

i) There are over 25 agencies with specific ministry to young people. The great challenge is meeting the needs of the many poor, without opportunities or education and who become a fertile recruiting area for violence and crime.

ii) Children of school age are ministered to by over 10 major agencies – SU with 106 full-time staff, CEF with 50 workers and many others. The big growth area is coping with the rapidly increasing number of AIDS orphans and victims of sexual abuse.

iii) University students. SCO (IFES) has ministry on 130 campuses with over 8,000 students involved and also a ministry in many secondary schools. CCCI has over 130 workers – many in campus ministry. There are, however, over 600,000 students in tertiary education.

d) Muslims are only 1.4% of the population (600,000), but exercise an influence far greater than their numbers with many holding high office in the government. Most are of the South Asian and Cape Malay communities, but there are now over 40,000 Africans who have become Muslim in recent years. Very few Muslims have ever openly become followers of the Lord Jesus, so pray for ministries among:

i) Cape Malays (240,000), who mainly live around Cape Town and are part of the Afrikaans-speaking coloured community. They are descended from political prisoners and slaves brought by the Dutch to the Cape centuries ago. They cling strongly to their religion and culture. There is a cooperative fellowship of agencies seeking to witness and disciple them (Life Challenge/SIM, WEC, and others). There has been some fruit but pressures on these believers can be intense.

ii) Asians (250,000), mainly in the Durban area of KwaZulu-Natal. Most are of Gujarati, Urdu and other Indian ethnic groups. Nearly 23% of the South Asian community is Muslim. Ministry among them is low-key and fruit hand-picked. Full Gospel Churches, Baptists, SIM and Jesus to the Muslims are all involved in this outreach.

iii) Pray for Muslim background believer (MBB) churches to emerge. Pray also that the small, but violent Islamist PAGAD movement might be neutralized – a vigorous campaign by them against drug rings in Cape Town degenerated into a violent guerrilla movement that has murdered, maimed and bombed themselves into newspaper headlines.

e) Hindus are 50% of the Asian population. There has been a steady flow of Hindu people to Christ and now 19% of the Asian population is Christian. There are still many who need the freedom there is in Christ. Demonization is a major problem. The work of the Full Gospel Church of God, Apostolic Faith Mission, NGK, AEF/SIM, Church of England in South Africa and the Baptists has been fruitful with some large and lively churches. The great potential for these believers to go out as missionaries is beginning to be realized.

f) The Chinese are of three types – long-term residents, immigrants from Taiwan in the 1980s and the present legal and illegal immigration from mainland China. A number of churches and missions (SIM included) have ministry among them. The biggest challenge is reaching the mainlanders who are proving more responsive.

g) The Portuguese and Greek communities are largely Catholic or Orthodox. There are some Portuguese evangelical congregations, but the Greeks are more neglected.

h) The Jews live largely in Gauteng and in Cape Town. There is a small, but growing number of Messianic Jews (CWI, JfJ).

i) Mine workers are drawn from all over rural South Africa and surrounding nations. Many men live separated from their families for long periods of time. At any one time 400,000 are living on large mine compounds of the Free State, Gauteng and the Northern Province. Various missions and agencies seek to minister to them.

j) Illegal immigrants have streamed over South Africa's borders – especially from Mozambique, Malawi, Angola, Congo, Burundi, Rwanda and even Nigeria. Their numbers may be very large indeed but no one really knows. Pray that these people may be adequately helped spiritually – whether Christian or not.

10 Missions vision has flourished since 1991 and the ending of South Africa's 30-year diplomatic isolation. South Africa's commitment in the past was notable with internationally known agencies such as NGK(DRC) which had a major outreach for many years to a number of African nations, AEF (now SIM), IHCF with a world-wide ministry to and through medical workers, Africa Evangelistic Band, Dorothea Mission and more recently African Enterprise. The NGK has renewed its commitment to missions and has done much for neighbouring territories. Local AFM and charismatic churches have developed many new mission initiatives. OM and YWAM have done much in training and sending out young people into ministry. Pray for:

a) The continued growth and health of the missions movement. The Love Southern Africa vision, the local expression of the AD2000 and Beyond Movement, was a catalyst to the new missions thrust that has aroused many congregations to action for world evangelization and resulted in a multiplication of short-term teams and long-term workers. Love Southern Africa has been taken over by the Mission Mobilizers Network.

b) Good cooperation between churches, Bible colleges and mission agencies. In 2000 the World Evangelization Network of South Africa (WENSA) was formed as a hub of 25 networks linking agencies and denominations. Mission agencies need to adapt to the growing direct involvement of local congregations in missions.

c) Strategic development of vision. The World Mission Centre has developed Gateway Strategy Networks with congregation 'hubs' that focus on specific unreached peoples or regions and to which other congregations relate and team up for information dissemination and in praying for, supporting and sending missionaries. By 1999 there were 7 regional and 17 national hubs in existence. Pray for the widest possible involvement of South Africa's 40,000 or so evangelical congregations.

d) South African missionaries around the world. Over 40% are in other African countries and 20% in 10/40 Window countries. Adequate support is a constant problem because of the national economic difficulties and the many demands on ministry in South Africa. This is especially true for missionaries from the Coloured, Asian and African communities. New and relevant ways of doing mission need to be sought to draw these population groups into cross-cultural mission. The devaluation of the Rand, the local currency, has not helped in supporting foreign missions.

e) The emergence of missionary outreach from the Black churches. There is great potential, but obstacles for its realization are enormous, and the relatively few missionaries from this community have a hard task to convince the church leadership of the validity of missions, let alone raising missionary support. The Mission Mobilizers Network has a strong burden to facilitate this vision, and WENSA is contributing to this.

11 Expatriate missions. Mission work began among indigenous peoples in 1799. Nearly every major denomination in Europe and North America has played a part in their evangelization. Despite tragic mistakes, heroic efforts have yielded much fruit. The missionary force has reduced in numbers as mature churches have emerged, and most existing ministries are in church development, leadership training, youth, literature and radio ministries. Pray for fruitful ministries for them in times of great difficulty and discouragement.

12 Christian help ministries. The scope and scale of specialized Christian ministries is impressive. The giving needed to sustain them is prodigious! Pray specifically for:

a) Bible production and distribution. Nearly every language has the entire Bible. Massive numbers are sold or distributed annually by The Bible Society. Pray for increased reading of the Scriptures and for lasting, formative impact on lives.

b) Christian literature is available in abundance. There are 42 Christian publishers and 216 Christian bookstores. Of note are All Nations Gospel Publishers with a world-wide distribution of evangelistic tracts and booklets.

c) Christian broadcasting has a large following. Pray specifically for:

i) Religious programming aired on radio and television by the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation. Air time is awarded broadly in proportion to the percentages of the national religions. Pray that the biblical and evangelical content may be maintained and not restricted.

ii) Local community FM radio stations. These have multiplied and many are specifically Christian. Results have been good. Pray that licences might continue to be issued – the government has shown some reluctance to do so. From South Africa this vision has spread to many other countries in Africa under the umbrella of Radio Africa Network.

iii) International Christian broadcasters. FEBC has increased its ministry in the country. TWR has a major input with stations in Johannesburg and nearby Swaziland; they broadcast 243 hrs/wk in 8 national languages. A further 125 hrs/wk are broadcast in 4 languages by satellite.

iv) The 23+ Christian radio and television agencies based in South Africa and the programmes they produce.

d) The JESUS film is widely used in 18 languages and a high proportion of the population has seen it.

e) MAF has a base in South Africa; its main ministry is flying teams for ministry to surrounding countries.

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