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Jurgen & Katja Hofmann, along with their five children, have been living in Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, learning language and culture. This February they moved to Sandrohy, to live among the Tanala. They explain why…
The Tanala are considered to be one of the least reached people groups in Madagascar, living in the southeast of the country. Many live in forest areas, hence the name ‘Tanala’, which means ‘people of the forest’. With a population of 1,200,000, the Tanala represent 6% of the Malagasy population. 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 Malagasy from other people groups. This fear is a legacy from the French occupation, which ended in 1960. One elder said that during that time neither they, nor their traditions, were respected. Furthermore, they were forced to learn the ‘wrong Malagasy’ (French language). The Tanala (especially in remote areas) are very attached to their traditions and lifestyle, which are immersed in ancestor worship and animism.
The Malagasy missionaries, Melias, Thadee and Haja, talk about their work among the Tanala:
“We started with the important things: establishing relationships, learning their dialect and culture, and finding out more about the area. Our first Bible study began on 24 July 2016 and we had 12 people attend. After this, more people became interested and on 6 August we had 48 people come. These people decided to meet every Sunday and to open a house for this purpose. More and more people came, until there were 82 people at the service. We also received more visitors to our regular Bible study meetings. On 23 August, 24 people attended a Bible study and on 3 September, they chose new villages to begin sharing the gospel among. They decided to start in Agnalanava and Saramandro.”
Melias, Thadee and Haja have also reported that, on 19 November, 13 Tanala got baptised.
Really Good News
AIM is currently working among the Tanala in two areas. The first area is in and around Ikongo and the second area is around Sandrohy.
AIM have trained several Malagasy missionaries. One couple, Thadee & Haja, with their three children, and a young man, Melias, are already working in the Ikongo area. They have been very well received, and the response from the Tanala is enormously encouraging. The missionaries have already been involved in several baptisms and training new evangelists among the Tanala.
We have recently moved to the Sandrohy area. Before moving here we visited the area several times. It was encouraging to see that after each visit the people opened up more and more. They were relieved to hear the ‘vazaha’ (foreigners) trying to speak their native language. In one village the elders wanted to be sure that we would not come to change their culture. We could ensure them that this was not our goal (and after all, it is the Holy Spirit who brings change). We told them that we wanted to teach them about the good news of Jesus Christ. The elders concluded that if it is really good news then all the people had to hear it! “But,” they added, “you shouldn’t wait too long to come.” The Tanala in the villages we visited all agreed to help us learning their language and culture.
We are looking forward to our work in this new harvest field.