The Republic of Benin is a long, narrow country bordered by Togo to the West, Burkina Faso and Niger Republic to the North, Nigeria to the East and the Bight of Benin to the South. It became independent from France in 1960; and occupies an area of 112,600 sq. km. It has a population of over 6 million people spread within some 58 ethnic groups.
The Challenge of Animism: It is said that voodooism began in Benin and spread to places like Haiti through the slave trade. Voodooism is a pervasive evil that affects every level of society. It is a development of African spiritism and witchcraft. An estimated 2.9 million people (approximately 48%) of the total population engage in this practice. Porto-Novo still boasts to be the world headquarters of voodoo; playing host to the shrine of the nine-headed monster called “AVÈSAN” considered as the ancestor of all voodoo devotees!
The Challenge of Islam: This country, once known as the least evangelized non-Muslim country in Africa, south of the Sahara, now faces a concerted and piercing thrust of Islamic influence. Spiritual ignorance and the economic situation of the peoples appear to be aiding the growth of Islam. There are about 1.2 million Muslims in Benin (about 20% of the population); and mosques are springing up at a rather alarming rate!.
The Challenge of Nominalism: Of the 32% (about 1.9 million) of the total population said to be Christian, majority is still nominal and practice other traditional belief, which brings the percentage of animists to about 80% of the total population!
Other challenges include:
• Porto-Novo, the political capital, is still largely a rural community.
• High level of spiritual ignorance persists
• The level of illiteracy is quite high. Most pastors are unschooled which limits their ability to effectively teach their congregations.
• Most churched peoples are very shallow in their knowledge of the Bible and in living the Christian life.
Given the great need for the gospel in Benin Republic, ACF Missions Inc. operation focuses on equipping pastors and empowering them economically to break the stronghold of voodoo and focus on winning unreached peoples of the country to Christ. With our medical outreaches in remote villages of the country, ACF Missions Inc. supports efforts in the country to raise healthy adults and children who will help foster a productive economy.
A major challenge in French speaking countries in Africa is a lack of French speaking workers who would focus on the French speaking unreached people groups in these countries. In recognition of the critical role of trained pastors and missionaries for the work, ACF Missions, Inc. supports the training of missionaries in Porto Novo through partnership with the Agape Mission’s Ecole de Mission Inter Africaine au Benin (EMIAB). During each year’s e summer mission trip to Benin Republic, teams from ACF Missions, Inc. in partnership with Agape Mission’s organize pastors’ conferences in Porto-Novo, Sakete and other parts of the country. In parallel, the team organizes workshops for Pastors’ wives where the women are thought how to keep their homes and learn some trade to support their husbands’ ministry. Many of these women are hurting from their marriage relationship and need encouragement.
During the2007 ACF summer missions’ trip, we recognized the economic struggles of Pastors and church leaders in Benin Republic and how these have limited their ability to preach the gospel and reach their communities with the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. As a result of the need, the ACF Missions’ Economic Empowerment Program was established in the country to provide small seed money to the Pastors, church leaders and their wives to start up a small business to help support their families.