25 January 2018 // Articles & Stories

Are you called to the Kanembu?

Connected to prayer

This article was first featured alongside our Prayer Diary in February 2018. You can download the February 2018 prayer points here or sign-up to receive future editions by post or email.

In 1895 Peter Cameron Scott, the founder of AIM, felt God’s call to reach those as yet unreached in the ‘inlands’ of Africa. His vision was of a chain of Christ-centred churches stretching from the coast of Kenya to Lake Chad. Today, there are still unreached people groups living in Africa’s ‘inlands’, some of them living near Lake Chad. And God’s call on AIM still remains.

Between the sands of the Sahara and the shores of Lake Chad, there is a group of over 500,000 people that until the beginning of the 1900s were the major power not only in Chad, but in the heart of north central Africa. For over a thousand years the Kanem-Bornu Empire exerted its power. Its influence covered eastern Nigeria and Niger and the northern half of Chad and Libya. It traded with Egypt and sponsored Islamic schools as far away as Alexandria. Its camel caravans reached the Muslim holy cities in the Arabian Peninsula. Today the Kanembu people are descendants of this great empire, and their sultans and traditional rulers are still more influential in Chad than government authorities.

How can we pray?

Throughout Chad, and even among the Kanembu, there are churches populated with Chadians from the south of the country, from people groups who have already responded to the gospel. Please join us in praying for these churches to begin to reach out to their unreached neighbours. Pray that they would find ways in which they can engage with the Kanembu and clearly demonstrate and explain to them the salvation that is available in Christ. Pray too as we at AIM consider the possibilities of working among the Kanembu. Pray that God would point us to the right opening, the right people at the right time, so that as co-workers with Christ, we can have the joy of seeing many Kanembu turn to him. Pray even that as we begin exploring these options that we will meet Kanembu people who are open to the gospel and who will open the way for us to minister to more of the community.

Waiting to hear

Along with the Kanuri (who share a related language), the Kanembu people are merchants, and only a few of them are involved in agriculture or raising livestock. Living in mud brick houses with their culture and clothing resembling that of Bible times, they are still waiting to be reached with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Instead the Islamic faith has been passed down from generation to generation among the Kanembu. Mixed with African traditional beliefs, they display outward conformity to Islamic tenets but depend on a form of spiritism to address their daily problems. Muslim holy men, known as Marabouts, act as spiritual leaders and are often consulted for their healing power or their ability to communicate with spirits. Our desire is to see the gospel penetrate the darkness of folk Islam that has bound these people for over a millennium and to see reproducing Christ-centred churches among all Kanembu communities.