U.S. Associate: NEEDED
Country Coordinator: Pastor Julien Mvemba
Number of Team Members: 3
ITEM’s Involvement Since: 2014
# Pastors have attended ITEM Training: unknown
# of untrained pastors remaining:
Nearly the size of Texas and sitting 250 miles off the coast of East Africa, Madagascar is the world’s 4th largest Island. Over 90% of its plant and animal species are found nowhere else on Earth. The Malagasy language, in a variety of mutually intelligible dialects, is generally spoken throughout the island.
While the economy has been growing since 2011, 69% of the population still lives on less than $1 per day and survive by subsistence agriculture. Corruption and poor infrastructure limit progress. Education quality is weak, producing high rates of grade repetition, dropout, and a functional literacy rate as low as 30%. Running water, regular electricity, and telecommunications and internet access are available to only a small part of the country. Regular and destructive cyclones are disruptive to crops, destroy property, and hamper progress of all kinds.
Less than half (41%) of Madagascans practice Christianity; an even larger group (52%) adhere to traditional religions which tend to emphasize links between the living and the razana (ancestors). Many Christians integrate their religious beliefs with traditional ones related to honoring the ancestors. According to Operation World, “Compromise with the old beliefs, veneration of ancestral spirits and witchcraft are widespread and even increasing among those who claim to be Christians.” There is a great need for theological training for the church.
ITEM is answering that need! Training was first conducted by Pastor Bob Allen, a French-speaking American pastor, in 2009. Dr. Steve Van Horn made his first trip to train in Madagascar in 2011, and the country was added to ITEM’s official ministry focus in 2014. While there have been many challenges in finding mature and consistent national leadership, Julien Mvemba (ITEM Coordinator) has persevered in seeking to form a Biblically sound leadership team. Julien was originally sent to Madagascar by Campus Crusade and is now working exclusively with ITEM. Several of the newest national leadership team have seminary background and have demonstrated commitment to ITEM’s distinctives.
Pray for Madagascar:
The Bible and Christian literature is in short supply. Currently, only the official Merina dialect has the Bible; translation work is ongoing in 10 different Malagasy languages. Audio Scriptures are vital in a country where literacy is below 50% and functionally as low as 30%. A lack of foreign exchange limits importation and printing of the Scriptures. Pray for this work and the availability of God’s word.
Madagascar presently does not have the ongoing support and help of an assigned Associate. Please pray that the Lord has an experienced pastor somewhere that will feel called to this ministry and this country.