Africa needs Jesus! Those were words I first heard ten years ago passionately expressed by our beloved TWR-Africa director Stephen Boakye-Yiadom who is now with the Lord. His heart was so in tune with the Lord’s heart for Africa that his enthusiasm was contagious. Some of you may have met him and know what I mean.
Africa still needs Jesus! And TWR still shares Stephen’s heart cry for his people, and now others have accepted God’s call to take up the mantle. In the last three blog posts, I’ve introduced you to some of the people groups of West Africa. Today, let me share with you about the Fulfulde/Fulani (Fula, Fulbe) people:
The Fulani are considered the largest migratory group of people in the world. They are spread across sub-Saharan Africa from Mauritania and Senegal to Sudan. Because of their widespread location and assimilation of cultural patterns from surrounding groups, there is great confusion regarding the nature of Fulani ethnicity. Today they are grouped and named according to their dialect, location, and occupation. The language is usually known as Fulfulde, though there are many variations and dialects.
The Fulfulde-speaking people of West Africa are primarily semi-nomadic herdsmen. Some have become part-time farmers. There are some who are educated and influential leaders in their communities. Among the more semi-nomadic groups, women care for their children and handle meal preparation and household duties. The men tend to the herds and make their own clothes. Making clothes is a way a man can express himself and show his individuality and personality.
The majority (97-99 percent) are adherents of a major world religion, strictly following the moral codes of that religion. Less than two percent follow Christ. The Joshua Project includes the Fulfulde/Fulani on their list of least-reached people groups. In some areas, those who have become Christians have felt little hostility from family members or the community. More often, those who follow Christ have experienced harsh persecution. Currently, only a few Fulani groups have any portions of the Bible in their language; most of the groups have no Bible translation.
Let me tell you about a young man named Sammo who is from a Fulani village. His testimony is recorded in the newly-released book Reaching Beyond Barriers by Flora Rittenhouse, a TWR missionary:
One day while at work, Sammo’s colleagues asked him, “Did you know there is a radio broadcast on Radio Parakou* in our own language?” So he joined them the next evening and listened to the story together with them.
The radio pastor spoke of the return of Jesus Christ. He told of a day when the stars and the moon would fall down. That really disturbed Sammo. He had always believed in the permanence of nature, that all they could see would be here forever. Now he heard that one day it would crumble. Since he had heard it on the radio, it must be true. They said the ones who did not know Jesus Christ would suffer.
That whole night he thought, “What is going to happen to me?” It was then that Sammo asked Jesus to forgive him of his sins and come into his life.”
TWR airs two programs to the Fulfulde-speaking people of West Africa, The Word Today and Salvation and Evangelism. Praise the Lord for those like Sammo whose lives have been transformed through hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
*Radio Parakou is the local government radio facility that SIM has used for quite some time to air their programs. TWR Benin now teams with SIM Radio ELWA through use of their programs on our own MW station just outside Parakou.
Flora Rittenhouse, Reaching Beyond Barriers—A Legacy of Hope, Trans World Radio Africa, Kempton Park, Republic of South Africa, 2009, p. 121.
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