The Republic of Ivory Coast (Ivorians prefer the French “Côte d’Ivoire” as their country name) has a population of more than 15 million, including about 1 million Europeans and foreigners from other African countries. There are 10 cities with populations over 100,000, and there are 8,500 small villages. Seventy-five percent of the people are employed in agriculture, 15 percent in white-collar occupations, and 10 percent in industry. The economy of the Côte d’Ivoire is the most prosperous per capita of black Africa.
Over 55 percent of the people are animists, worshipping dead ancestors and spirits of the dead. Muslims are found mostly in the north and in the larger cities. The remaining population is mainly Roman Catholic. Of the professing Muslim and Catholic population, a large part are involved with the traditional animistic practices.
Baptist Mid-Missions’ missionaries first entered Côte d’Ivoire in the 1940s and 1950s from Liberia, where missionaries were working in a border town. There was no way to establish churches, however, until 1975 when BMM became authorized to enter Côte d’Ivoire. Since then the ministry in the Côte d’Ivoire has included church planting, Bible translation, a clinic, and a Bible school.
The goals for ministry in Côte d’Ivoire include targeting new areas for planting new churches in partnership with national leaders. Youth ministry is a huge potential where the majority of the population is under 20 years of age. Training of future leaders in a Bible institute setting is also a very needed and promising ministry for the future.
Church planting is the exciting future of ministry in Côte d’Ivoire. The expansion of the Bible institute and youth work in San Pedro will also require additional personnel to assist in teaching and outreach. There is a potential for dynamic partnership with faithful and well-trained national leaders as well.