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July 6, 2009

Cote d’Ivoire, A Country Profile & Prayer Guide

Filed under: Cote d'Ivoire,Country Profiles and Prayer Guides — TimMc @ 12:05 pm


Côte d’Ivoire, formerly Ivory Coast, (the official name is the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire), is a republic with a strong executive power personified in its president. The country’s capital is Yamoussoukro, with a population of roughly 200,000 people. The country is divided into 19 regions and 58 departments. It shares borders with Liberia, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Ghana. It also boasts over 370 miles of coastland on the Gulf of Guinea (Atlantic Ocean). The southern and western parts of the country are forested, with undulating ground rising to meet the savannah plains of the north and the mountains along the western border. The country abounds in some of the best natural attractions in West Africa, such as the large rainforest contained in Parc National de Taï.

You will quickly notice that Côte d’Ivoire is different from many other African countries because of its the extreme ethnic and linguistic diversity. There are over 60 people groups – which include the Akar, Kron, Nzima, Hone, Voltaic, and Malinke peoples. With very few exceptions every Ivoirian has a mother tongue which is that of the village, along with traditions, family, and social relations within their ethnic group. Ivoirians are friendly and eager to engage visitors to their country.

A few interesting facts about Cote d’Ivoire:

  • Approx. 18 million people reside in the country.
  • The official language is French and there is a 42% literacy rate.
  • It is one of the world’s largest producers of cocoa, coffee, and palm oil. The post-independence boom produced both massive immigration of job-seekers from surrounding lands and a high level of corruption. Currency devaluation in 1994 led to further growth. A political coup in December 1999 caused a sharp downturn in the economy as capital inflows dropped. Many businesses have since left the country. Civil servants have received no cost of living salary raise in over 18 years.
  • The country’s economy is largely market-based and relies heavily on agriculture.
  • There is complete religious freedom. The government remains sympathetic to missions. Traditional religions are generally stronger in the centre and west. Islam (Sunni) is strong in the northwest and Abidjan. Both Islam and Christianity are highly syncretized with African traditional beliefs, making these three religions impossible to precisely enumerate.

Specific ways to pray for Cote d’Ivoire:

  • Praise God that denominations are beginning to work together more. This has largely come as a response to the nation’s troubles – such as the interdenominational prayer concerts in several cities. Events like the March for Jesus and the visits of OM/YWAM ships have brought together thousands from many denominations.
  • Spiritism is still strong in Côte d’Ivoire. There are 4000 evangelical churches, but 5000 sacred fetish groves. Many Christians are still affected by the power of spiritism and fetishes; compromising both their witness and their own life in Christ. Pray for those who have not left behind their spiritist past that they may be completely delivered by the power of Jesus. Pray that believers will be able to withstand temptation to revert to old practices.
  • Pray for unity and cooperation among evangelicals. For the country to be effectively evangelized and the church to mature, denominational differences and competition must be set aside in favor of partnerships and teamwork.
  • The level of Bible knowledge and discipleship is low, partly a result of rapid church growth. Many churches accept the ‘prosperity’ gospel, and open air campaigns sometimes focus more upon miracles and healings rather than the One who is their source. However, this trend has been counterbalanced by the growth of Bible Institutes, Study Centers, and Correspondence Courses in which thousands of students are now enrolled. Pray that students at the new CMA theological school may grow in the mastery of the Word. Pray for the AoG’s new training institute, opening soon in Abidjan. Pray also for the Navigators and other ministries that focus on the much needed area of discipleship.
  • People groups that still need pioneer mission work and don’t have a major church plant include:
  • Pray for the strongly Muslim peoples of the northwest: Malinke, Fulbe and Jula-speaking peoples, where only a handful have been won through the ministry of SIM, WEC, and CBI. The Malinke/Fulbe group make up nearly 2 million people and are 99.9% non-Christian. More than 85 churches with 4000 members exist in Malinke territory, but they are composed almost exclusively of people who come from outside the region. Among the Mahou the Norwegian Lutherans have seen several congregations planted.
  • The large influx of foreigners presents unusual opportunities for evangelizing those who are separated from the strong ties of their tribal cultures. While their presence in Côte d’Ivoire is the source of much strife, it is also a timely evangelistic opportunity. Nearly 30% of the population is foreign, and the majority of foreigners are Muslim. (Continue reading…)