Many Muslims have heard the good news! New groups of believers from Muslim backgrounds have emerged. Bible storytelling and Chadian Arabic Christian radio help spread the gospel in culturally relevant ways. Violence in nearby Darfur at the hands of other Muslims caused some to question Islam, and left them open to the loving ministry and witness of Christians. Still, Islam grows in numbers, and in financial and social influence. Pray that Christians will learn to reach out to the Muslims around them.
Freedom of religion is a precious reality. The otherwise flawed regime at least attempts to preserve this, but it faces rebel threats that are often strongly Islamist and sponsored by foreign, hard line Islamic groups and nations. The south, previously victim of marginalization, is increasingly courted as a counterbalance to this threat. Pray that, while current freedoms still exist, Christians might fully utilize the opportunities.
The least-evangelized. There are more unreached peoples in Chad than in any other African country. A number of agencies, cooperating admirably, are making progress with previously unreached peoples. The major people-cluster challenges:
- The Saharan peoples (all Sunni Muslims) are politically dominant. They live predominantly in the northern deserts, Tibesti Mountains, northern shores of Lake Chad and the larger towns. Efforts by TEAM and one or two others to reach them are still in the early stages of progress. Only a handful of Christians are known in these groups, who are among Africa's least evangelized.
- The Guera-Naba cluster live between N'Djamena and the Guera Mountains and are almost entirely Muslim. They include the Bilala, Kuka and Medogo - collectively known to some as the Lisi. There are some agencies beginning work among them.
- The 21 smaller people groups from the Chadic cluster. They are concentrated in the Guera Mountains. Rapid Islamization is occurring (although they also retain much of their animism). The Evangelical Assemblies (AET) are the main church in this area. Some peoples related to these 21 groups are solidly Christian, and they have a force of 40-plus village evangelists and local missionaries. WBT is involved in several translation projects among these peoples.
- The Ouaddai-Fur peoples are Muslim and live in the eastern provinces bordering Sudan. They are a major challenge - variety of languages, harsh living conditions, lack of roads, violence and upheaval from Darfur. This is one of the least evangelized areas of Africa. French-Swiss AMI and WEC pioneered this area, but only among the Maba and Masalit has work been established with a few small groups of Muslim Background Believers. None of these 19 peoples have been properly reached with the gospel.
- The Sara-Bagirmi. The Barma (linguistically closely related to the Bilala) were pioneered by WEC, the Lutheran Brethren and AIM, but there are only a handful of known believers. To their east, along the Chari River, live a medley of smaller people groups; some have been pioneer evangelized by EET-AIM, but much work remains to be done.
- The Shuwa Arabs. Some are urbanized, some rural and some nomadic or semi-nomadic. They are influential in Chad; theirs is the main language of communication in the country. Little outreach is directed specifically toward them; WEC is attempting to make some beginnings.
- The Adamawa Fulbe and the nomadic Mbororo Fulbe are responding to the gospel in the south, but much more needs to be done.
- N'Djamena, the only city in the country and the nation's focal point. The city and outlying areas account for around one million people. Most of Chad's ethnic groups can be found - and evangelized - here. There are a host of congregations in N'Djamena, most focusing on their own ethnicity. There are also several French-language, multi-ethnic churches. AMI has a work among street children, and the IMB and others have a well-regarded study and culture centre that serves as a platform for a variety of ministries. Pray for missionaries working in N'Djamena and for others to be called. Pray also for the thousands of Christians in N'Djamena - for their effective witness and for the calling of some to cross-cultural outreach.
- Refugees from Darfur number up to 250,000. Most are from the Ouaddai-Fur peoples, many of whom are disillusioned with Islam. Their situation will likely persist for some years to come and presents an unprecedented opportunity for many to know Christ.
Missionary work continues despite the upheavals of the last three decades. Great needs remain for missions to continue and grow in the areas of church planting, evangelism, Bible translation, Bible teaching, leadership development and holistic ministry that will uplift and enable the national Church. Pray for missionaries with a pioneer spirit, perseverance in language and culture acquisition, and endurance to minister in hard places.
- Foreign missions. The main groups work together under the EET Church in an organization called COCOAM. Present member missions: TEAM, WEC, AMI, Vision Africa, AIM, MEDAF. Other missions include WBT, Frontiers, MAF (with two planes), EMET and IMB. Numbers of workers have declined in almost every agency; pray that this may be offset by the emergence of Chadian workers meeting the needs rather than those needs going unaddressed. There are many needs and opportunities: Bible translation, radio, HIV/AIDS education, leadership training, preaching, administration, evangelism, community health education, women's ministry and a vernacular Bible school, just to name a few.
- Indigenous missions. A small but growing number of Chadian missionaries are involved in pioneer church planting and Bible translation. The Centre de Formation Missionnaire (CFM) exists to prepare Chadians for cross-cultural mission. Pray for such centres to increase; pray for the students' provision and training. SMEET is the national mission agency that is part of the EET. YWAM has a training centre for Chadians wishing to become missionaries. There is encouraging vision in Chad's churches to send out workers; the greatest challenge is for these missionaries to remain focused on cross-cultural mission rather than to become pastors of groups of Christians from southern Chad.
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Content taken or adapted from Operation World, 7th Edition (2010) and Pray for the World (2015). Both books are published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.