Pray for the unreached Tanala people

Who are the Tanala people?

The Tanala people, also called Antanala, live in the inland forests of southeastern Madagascar. Their name actually means ‘people of the forest’. With a population of 1,200,000 the Tanala represent 6% of the population of Madagascar. They are skilled woodsmen, food gatherers, and hunters. They trade beeswax, honey, and other forest products and grow rice as a staple food. Their traditional ‘slash-and-burn’ agricultural methods are being discouraged by the central Madagascan government, instead they’re being encouraged to use more modern methods to grow corn, yams and coffee. Living conditions in the smaller villages can be very difficult. Many of these small villages are hard to reach and often people are suspicious and afraid of foreigners, as well as of Malagasy from other people groups. 

What do they believe?

The Tanala hold deeply to their traditional religious practices, which are based on animism and ancestor worship.  They believe that there are spirits all around us in nature and that people must try to please the spirits. Like most Animists they live with a certain amount of fear that a spirit will be unhappy with them. 

What is being done to reach them?

The Tanala are considered to be one of the least reached people groups in Madagascar. However, recently three Malagasy missionaries have begun sharing the gospel in Ikongo (a Tanala settlement) and have already had the joy of baptising new believers. The Hofmann family from the Netherlands have also recently moved to Sandrohy to live among the Tanala with the hope of planting a church among them.

Prayer from AIM’s Daily Prayer:

The Hofmanns are currently on Home Assignment in the Netherlands. “In general, we just continue with what we normally do. The children do not have a summer holiday like most children in the Netherlands. That is not as sad as you might think. It is impractical to stick to the normal Dutch school holidays because we travel back and forth a lot. Katja tries to adapt the schedule to the situation as much as possible. That way, the children don’t have to panic because they don’t finish their work before the holiday starts… Jurgen is digitising the gospel of Luke in the Tanala dialect. This is quite difficult to do. He cannot go into the village to ask how to pronounce a certain word. The Tanala dialect is still largely unwritten. Jurgen writes the words phonetically but that is not an easy job.” Please pray for the Hofmann family as they ‘work’ from home. Pray for Katja as she teaches their children at home, and for Jurgen as he works on translating Luke’s gospel remotely.

The Hofmanns are currently on Home Assignment in the Netherlands. “We, as a missionary family, are not unknown to the lifestyle we have now. We are fairly isolated in Maroamboka and are therefore somewhat used to it… we follow the situation on Madagascar with sorrow and concern in our hearts… Most homes in large cities are not affordable, so the whole family lives in one room… Because of the (often) bad conditions in which people live, even young people are vulnerable… one-sided nutrition and unhygienic homes plagued by rats and parasites are a recipe for a weak immune system. In addition, many Malagasy are simply terrified and have a very fatalistic attitude… [We would love them to] realise that the Almighty is not far away but has come to the world to save it. Saving from Corona? Saving from the plague? Possibly, but I’m more thinking about the boldness that comes with the confidence that Jesus has saved you for eternity.” share this prayer request: “We praise the Lord that there are now three churches planted by local believers in three different villages around Ikongo, and two other villages are asking Jean Baptiste to come start a church in their villages as well. Jean Baptiste is the only Malagasy partner serving in this area at present and is asking for more labourers to come serve with him. The harvest is great but the labourers are few. He hopes to bring two or three believers from these three churches to the Malagasy training in April. Please pray for Jean Baptiste that the Lord will sustain him and strengthen him. Also pray for more workers to join him in this work among the Tanala.”

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