Yao: An estimated 2 million Yao live in southern Africa; 1.5 million are in Malawi; another half million in Mozambique. The Yao are primarily subsistence farmers, but many have migrated to the cities, and some are craftsmen. Only 30% are literate. SIM seeks to serve the Yao through discipleship, health teaching, and children’s ministries. Portions of the Bible, including the first five books of the New Testament, were translated into the Chiyao language from 1880 to 1935. A SIM project is revising the existing translation and complete the entire Bible in Chiyao.
Wolof: For the Wolof people, who live in Senegal, the family is a source of strength and pride. In most rural areas and among the traditional in cities, extend families live together in compounds with a separate dwelling for each nuclear family. Most people live at subsistence levels as agricultural workers. Islam among the Wolof is marked by a system of brotherhoods led by marabouts, Muslim religious teachers considered to be holy men and believed to have supernatural powers. Eighty-five percent of the Wolof belong to one of these brotherhoods. SIM serves the Wolof through community development, translation, ESL classes, chronological story telling and other ministries. Though many people are very open to talking about Christianity, the control of the marabout over social and economic life makes change difficult.
Tamajaq: The Tamajaq are a nomadic people who migrated from northern Africa into the Sahel regions of the western Sahara Desert. They live in Niger, as well as other countries in the Sahel region. The Tamajaq are renowned for their display of finely crafted jewelry and ornaments, some of which bear the symbol of a cross (though to have been handed down from a very early Christian influence). SIM established work among the Tamajaq in areas of Niger in 1924 and in 1951, and is currently involved in evangelism, discipling, and translation. the Tamajaq constitute several different ethnolinguistic people groups, each requiring a separate missionary effort. A number of regions and dialects still have no significant Gospel witness.
Fulani: The distinctive physical features of the Fulani are similar to those of people in Egypt, northern Sudan, and Ethiopia – and in sharp contrast to those of people in other parts of Africa. Nearly 20 million Fulani are spread across 19 African countries. Traditionally, most are shepherds or cattle herders. When the number of livestock drops, the family must start farming to survive, though farming is not preferred. Fulani in Niger and Burkina Faso are nomads in the north, but mainly sedentary pasotralists or semi nomadic in the south. Though the Fulani in Burkina Faso and Niger have been resistant to Christianity, in Benin the Fulani Church is large and active. It is planned that the New Testament will soon be available in their native dialect of their language, Fulfulde.
Uyghur: More than nine million Uyghurs live in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwest China. Many of them cultivate cotton, grapes, melons and fruit trees, making use of an ingenious irrigation system, which pipes snow melt water from the mountains surrounding Xinjiang into the desert oases. Since the 1950s, millions of Han Chinese have migrated into Xinjiang. Though many Chinese Christians live among the Uyghurs, few have a vision to reach them with the Gospel. Uyghurs mostly follow a folk Islam mixed with superstition. It’s thought that there are about 500 Uyghur Christians in China, and 500 in neighbouring Kazakhstan.
Bahah: The Bahah people – who work as farmers, fishermen, seafarers, traders, and artisans – represent a cultural and religious ethnic minority in their South Asian country. Numbering over one million, they live by a social caste system. SIM’s outreach to this people group has been primarily through Bible translation, friendship evangelism, literature, and oral media in the local story-telling style. We are also involved in co=leading training seminars for evangelicals (many of them are tent-makers) who wish to reach their own people with God’s love in a culturally sensitive way. Bible translators completed their first book of the New Testament in 1988. The book of James, Luke, Jonah, Revelation, Acts, and the Joseph Story have been completed and are being used by the few Bahah Christians. The JESUS film is also available in Bahah.
Canada: I am one of 26 missionaries in Canada representing SIM. Most of us have some work among the followers of Islam. Still being a very multi-ethnic country, a lot of our work will also be among other cultural groups at the same time.
There are many other countries that we cannot mention at this time, but hope to inspire every one to start thinking about the unreached people groups in the world who do not even have one single church serving the followers of Christ. Many are choosing to do so and your prayers would be greatly appreciated as they go out not knowing everything God has planned but trusting in the call to go.
- Chinese Media Campaign Targets ‘Religious Extremism’ in Xinjiang (theepochtimes.com)
- Bloodbath as terrorists murder 70 Christians (wnd.com)