By: Catherine Finch- IMB
A local Bambara subsistence farmer in the village of Falako in Mali, West Africa shows an IMB missionary and volunteer the worms that are killing his crops. This village is one of 120 that will benefit from 500 tons of millet. The grain was provided to help stave off the starvation for about 31,000 people living in this rural area.
The Bambara are the majority people group in Mali, a neighboring country to Senegal, but many try to leave Mali for a better education, better jobs or even to flee instability within their country in recent years. Those in Senegal, like those in Mali, devote themselves to Islam and its five pillars. While some Bambara have established themselves in the larger cities of Senegal, most reside in Bambara-exclusive villages. Those in the villages are mostly farmers, dependent upon the rains and good crops to sustain their lives.
IMB missionaries in Senegal are working hard to engage the Bambara. Because the Bambara cannot be found in a central location in Senegal, the missionaries are strategically engaging with Bambara speaking believers from Mali who are studying in the capitol of Senegal.
Katherine Rivers*, IMB missionary in Senegal, explained why she and her husband, Josh Rivers*, are focusing on reaching the Bambara speaking believers from Mali within the capitol of Senegal.
“The Bambara-speaking believers from Mali can be involved in bringing the gospel to this unreached, unengaged people group with the language they already speak,” said Katherine. “It’s an awesome opportunity to equip and encourage these believers from Mali to engage with their people throughout Senegal.”
IMB missionaries are focusing on reaching the Bambara of Senegal with the Sub-Saharan Africa peoples 55 in 5 emphasis. IMB missionaries in Sub-Saharan Africa have a goal to engage 55 unengaged, unreached people groups with the gospel by the year 2025.
Among these groups, which are the largest unengaged and unreached in Sub-Saharan Africa, there are few or no Christians or churches. The gospel will not spread among the groups naturally – outside help is needed. The IMB is calling on churches in the United States and around the world to pray for, and eventually to help engage, these 55 people groups.
Josh said IMB missionaries in Senegal are implementing several strategies to engage the unbelieving Bambara of Senegal. One of their strategies is casting the vision to reach the lost Bambara to the local churches in Senegal. He described why they want to come alongside national believers in Senegal and partner with them to reach the lost.
“In a country like Senegal that is 0.2% evangelical, it can be overwhelming for the churches to look at the culture and community and know where to start. It can be paralyzing,” said Josh.
“Our primary strategy is sharing with local churches about how they can be involved in bringing the gospel to a people like the Bambara. We’re providing training that equips the churches to then go out and church plant themselves.”
Please pray that believers in Senegal will be bold witnesses to the Bambara living there. Ask God to place the Bambara Bible before the Bambara of Senegal so that they will listen to or read it. Pray that they will have a desire to know more.
The Bambara of Senegal have influence because of their education and jobs. Pray they will come to faith in Christ and use their influence to reach those around them and those back in Mali.
Find resources on the Bambara and the other people groups in the 55 in 5 emphasis. To learn how you can help get the gospel to these people groups, contact Pray4Africa@imb.org.
*Names changed for security
Catherine Finch is a writer for IMB.
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