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July 1, 2009

Togo, a Country Profile & Prayer Guide

Filed under: Country Profiles and Prayer Guides,Prayer Requests,Togo — TimMc @ 7:29 pm

togo

Togo is a tiny sliver of a country squashed between Ghana, Burkina Faso, and Benin. In spite of its small land mass, it still manages to squeeze in dense lush forests, savannah, coastal lagoons, long sandy beaches, and swampy plains.

The capital city Lomé is situated on the Gulf of Benin. It is the only capital in the world situated right on a border. Modern hotels line the beach to welcome tourists. In various places throughout the city, there are still pockets of colonial architecture to be seen.

Togo’s national parks are home to buffalo, elephant, antelope, and numerous tropical bird species. Coffee plantations and cocoa farms, waterfalls, and palm plantations all lie on the country’s plateau, which rises up from the coast and is within an easy drive. In northeastern Togo, the traditional mud-tower settlements of the Batammariba in the Koutammakou landscape gained UNESCO World Heritage status in 2004.

A few interesting facts about Togo:

  • The country has a population of approximately 6 million people.
  • The official language is French. There are 43 languages used in Togo. The literacy rate is around 52%. There are only two indigenous languages used in the education system: Ewe/Mina and Kabiye. There are 6 languages with a complete translation of the Bible, 7 with the New Testament, and 12 other languages that are works in progress.
  • Subsistence agriculture is performed by 80% of the population. Togo’s main exports are phosphates, cotton, cocoa, and coffee. Economic growth has lagged behind population growth due to endemic government corruption. Most foreign aid has been suspended because of lack of fiscal discipline and a poor human rights record. About a third of the population lives below the international poverty line of US $1.25 a day.
  • A period of intense anti-Christian rhetoric in the 1970’s cooled to an official indifference. In 1978, 20 religious groups were banned; only Muslims, Catholics, and five Protestant churches were legally permitted to function. In 1990 nearly all restrictions were lifted and there has been considerable religious freedom since.
  • Despite the influences of Christianity and Islam, over half of the people of Togo follow native animistic practices and beliefs.
  • As with many other African countries, football (soccer) is the most popular sport. Until 2006, Togo was very much a minor force in world soccer, but like fellow West African nations such as Senegal, Nigeria, and Cameroon (which is located in Central Africa) before them, the Togolese national team finally qualified for the World Cup.

Specific ways to pray for the country of Togo:

  • Regaining religious freedom in 1990 has given a decade of more rapid church growth and outreach to many people for the first time. Evangelicals have grown from 17,000 in 1960 to nearly 400,000 in 2000.
  • The Church in Togo stagnated between 1960 and 1990. The long established Evangelical Presbyterian Church became theologically liberal and nominal and remained confined to the Ewe, while the Methodists remained among the Mina. During the 1980s newer evangelical groups began to grow – the AoG (once mainly in the north and now predominantly in the south), the Baptists (IMB-SBC and ABWE in the south) and the Missouri Synod Lutherans among the Moba in the north have all seen encouraging results. Many new denominations from outside Togo commenced work in the ’90s and all denominations began to grow rapidly. Pray for the establishment of strong, indigenous congregations and denominations with visionary leadership.
  • Leaders for young churches are few, and training facilities in Togo limited. Pray for appropriate vernacular and French Bible Schools and TEE programs to be launched.
  • The strongly entrenched powers of darkness have scarcely been challenged through intercessory prayer and confrontation with the power of the gospel. The two major forces to be tackled:

The idolatry and strong secret societies of the Ewe, Fon and other tribes with intense opposition to the gospel needs to be broken. Christians cannot grow in their faith until they have fully repented and renounced the works of darkness.

The growing strength of Islam. Muslims dominate in trading, taxi services, and in national education throughout Togo. There is a steady stream of conversions to Islam throughout the country, yet there are few Christian workers focused on Muslim evangelism in the eight Muslim peoples or the high concentrations of Muslims in urban areas – a total of 1,100,000.

  • Togo and Benin have long had the highest percentage of un-evangelized traditionalists in Africa. In 1990, 15 people groups had evangelical congregations in their cultures, 25 had none. Many of these unreached peoples now have congregations or groups of believers, but in most, only a beginning has been made. Many of these people groups could be best reached by Ghanaian and Benin believers who are of the same language groups as those who need to hear about Christ in Togo.
  • Schools and the university – CCCI and GBUST(IFES) have campus ministries with a growing number of students involved. SU has a good ministry in high schools. Pray for the development of mature believers and groups.
  • Churches are generally ill-equipped to address the needs of children or young people. Pray for more with vision and gifting to change this situation.
  • There is a significant evil trade in children who are ‘exported’ to other lands for the sex industry. Pray that this may be ended.
  • Evangelical missions have been few, but have increased in number during the ’90s. Church planters, disciplers and leadership trainers are needed. The largest missions are YWAM, ABWE, IMB-SBC, and AoG.
  • Pray especially for the completion of the whole Bible in Kabiye – one of the two indigenous languages used in schools.
  • Christian literature is in great demand. Pray for the ministry of both the well-used CLC bookstore and of The Bible Society in distributing Scripture. The latter has a successful ‘Faith Comes by Hearing’ program of cassette tapes of Bible readings for pre-literates which has enhanced desires both for literacy and for the printed Scriptures.
  • Christian radio – local stations broadcast Christian programs; there is also one Christian radio station in Lomé.
  • The JESUS film has been shown extensively in film and on TV in several languages.

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