MALI – Prayer Country for the week of March 15, 2020

Our prayer country for this week is the Republic of Mali, which is a landlocked state with dry southern grasslands merging into the Sahara Desert. Mali consists of 1,240,192 square kilometers and is bordered by Mauritania, Algeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, and Senegal. The capital is Bamako, and the population is 16,767,115.

Almost 90% of the population are sub-Saharan African peoples, with about ten percent Arab/Berber. The official language is French, although there are three trade languages and about 60 others. Literacy is only about 19%. Only a few languages have Scriptures.

The economy of Mali consists of subsistence farming and fishing; however, drought, locust plagues, and growing deserts frequently devastate the land. The exports of gold and cotton are highly vulnerable to market fluctuations. Mali is one of the world’s poorest nations; the income per person is only $657, which is one percent of per-person income in the United States.

Mali became independent from France in 1960. A dictatorship followed but was brought down in 1991, with elections and a multiparty democracy enduring since that time. Unfortunately, problems occur due to the presence of Al-Qaeda, the outbreaks of violence in various places, and the presence of drug cartels.

As for religion, Islam claims over 87% of the people; ethnoreligionists make up about 9.88%; and Christians make up only 2.64%. Fortunately, the church is taking root in a number of the cultures, and second-generation Christians are emerging.

Positive factors include the continuing stability in the midst of poverty; Mali stands as a role model of democracy in a sea of troubled nations, free from coups and civil wars. On the other hand, the socio-economic status is sobering. People earn only about $1.50 a day. Literacy is low, and secondary school enrollment is under 20%. About one-fifth of children will not survive to the age of five, and of those who do, one-third will be mal-nourished. Also, the number of Christians has not increased by enough to keep pace with Mali’s rapid population growth. The capital city has 60 small churches and over 100 expatriate missionaries, but only a minority are involved in church planting. There is a dearth of evangelicals; leaving 35 of the cultural groups unreached and in need of the Good News.

As far as current affairs go, In the capital city of Bamako, the heart of the world’s fastest-growing Islamist insurgency, a national force of approximately 12,000 soldiers struggles to defend a population of 20 million. Malian troops are rapidly losing ground as militants linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State sweep the rural north and push toward bigger cities. Their mission is to grab territory so they can train, gather strength, and launch attacks on targets worldwide. Meanwhile, the Malian military aims to enroll those at risk of getting swept into extremism–namely, the young, unemployed, and those hungry for purpose. Malian leaders plan to double the size of the army, saying that military help from France and regional partners is not enough to stop the enemy.

We need to include in our prayers for Mali that God will intervene to stop the enemy forces and protect Mali against Islamist control, not only for this small country but also to prevent the spread of terrorism.

Let us lift up this country in prayer; let us pray. Gracious God, we put before you the country of Mali. We see seeds of possibility for more positive and productive lives, the sharing of the Good News, and the stability of the nation. But we also see great problems in the economy, health, and lack of child care. We know that You are greater than all of these issues, and we earnestly pray that You will raise up strong leaders in mission, evangelism, education, government, politics, and economy. Surely the people of Mali are among “the least of these” of whom Jesus spoke. May we continue to pray for Mali and its people and be open to ways in which we may serve them, even from this great distance. We ask Your blessings on these brothers and sisters, in Jesus’ name amen.