Area: 10,689 sq km
A narrow, 400-km-long riverine enclave that virtually divides Senegal’s Casamance from the rest of the country.
Population: 1,750,732 Annual Growth: 2.78%
Official language: English Languages: 23 All languages
Largest Religion: Muslim
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Missionary work was pioneered by Anglicans and Methodists and mostly confined to the Aku (Creole-speaking descendants of freed slaves in Banjul). Nominalism is a challenge in most denominations, although the ministries of the above and of the Mennonites have had a valuable impact in development, education and medical work, especially among the Jola and Manjako. Many newer ministries from Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Liberia and Cameroon have recently started. These have greatly added to the harvest force and the vitality of church and mission efforts. In all cases, the nominal Christian population receives much more spiritual attention than the unreached Muslim majority. Pray for effective ministry of expatriate Christian groups in demonstrating the good news. Pray also for nominal Christians to discover a genuine life in Jesus.
Unreached peoples in the Gambia:
a) Mandinka. Ninety-five percent of all Mandinkas are Muslim, believing in a mixture of Islam and traditional customs. Due to tremendous social and family pressures, few Mandinkas leave Islam. Those who have converted to Christianity are viewed as traitors to their families and their heritage. The entire NT and two-thirds of the OT are available in Roman-scripted Mandinka.
b) Fulani. Largely sedentary in the Gambia despite traditional associations with nomadic pastoralism, the Fulani are considered to be custodians of Islam in West Africa. There is some response to Christian witness in the region from the Fula, but their unique culture requires a different expression of church from the sedentary majority.
c) Jola. The majority of Jolas are from an animistic background and are beholden to the spirit powers they revere. Jolas in Gambia are increasingly being Islamized, with a small number of Christians. Only some Scripture portions are available in their language. Pray for more Jolas to come to freedom in Christ, and pray for effectiveness in the medical, translation and church planting ministries in their areas (WEC, IMB).
d) Wolof, Serahule, and Serer all more prevalent in neighbouring Senegal, all very much unevangelized and with little outreach or mission directed toward them. There are probably fewer than 10 known Christians among the 180,000 Serahule of Gambia. Medical work has opened doors in some villages. Pray for more groups of believers to be formed who can withstand the pressure from family and society to return to Islam.
For an additional 5 Challenges for Prayer see Operation World book, CD-ROM, or DVD-ROM.
The Operation World book, CD-ROM, and DVD-ROM provide far more information and fuel for prayer for the people of The Gambia.