PICTURE Edition 17: The Church in Guinea Bissau: Mature, Healthy And Growing

(A note from Kevin: If you like what you read why not sign up to help me pray weekly for all the Muslim majority countries one by one. If you are on a laptop or an Ipad the link is on your right, if on a smart phone just scroll to the bottom of the posts)

1. History

Guinea Bissau is a tiny, struggling country on the west coast of Africa. It was slowly carved out of the existing kingdom of Gabu, part of the Mali Empire, by the Portugese from the 16th Century and this is the prime reason for its separate existence from what was French Guinea. For hundreds of years it was part of what was called The Slave Coast. The Portugese were prevented from exploring the interior of their colony until the 19th Century as the Gabu controlled the inland and profited greatly as middlemen in the slave trade.

In the 1950’s an armed guerrilla movement erupted and fought the Portugese with help from Cuba and Russia. Independence was declared in 1973 and recognised in 1974. A one-party Marxist government ruled for the next 20 years. Unstable leadership has continued ever since.

2. Today

Guinea Bissau is one of the poorest countries on earth, with an income of just 0.5% of the USA. Life expectancy is about 50 years, literacy is abysmal and nearly half the population is under 15 years. Sadly, Guinea Bissau is now a prime trans-shipment station for cocaine on its way from South America to Europe. This is corrupting many people and potentially its institutions.

Around half the population is Muslim, but they are strongly influenced by traditional Animist religious practices. The next largest religion is African Animism. Interestingly, according to the Pew Research Centre and World Atlas, the influence of Islam is now falling below 50%. If so this is a rare event in a Muslim majority country.

3. Evangelical Highlights

Some 20% of the country is nominally inside the Christian religion, with half of these being Catholic. Evangelism was banned before independence but with the many political and humanitarian crises that followed, evangelicals soon gained the respect of all successive governments. They now number around 2% of the population but are growing healthily at over 6% a year.

Christian programs are now broadcast on national radio in Portugese Creole and there is now a dedicated Christian radio station for this largely illiterate country. An increasing number of missionaries are arriving from other countries to help the local church which is solid, mature and indigenous. Brazil has recently taken over from westerners as the main sending country and there is a solid program of training for new leaders. It is estimated that by 2050 the nation will be 30% Christian, and most of that figure will be evangelical.

Prayer Points

Pray for more and more church planters to be raised up

Pray for increasing evangelism in the Muslim Fulbe and Malinke strongholds

Pray for Christian Radio to penetrate thousands of hearts

Pray for missions to the young

Pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit with signs and wonders following

Pray that new foreign missionaries will be sensitive to local leadership and culture

Pray for the Brazilian missionaries teaching leadership courses such as the Kairos courses

Pray for continued successful evangelism to the Animist people

Pray that demonic control via witchcraft can be broken

Next week: India (because it is the second largest Muslim country in the world by numbers)

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