West Africa (MNN) — The Fulani people make up one of the largest ethnic groups across West Africa. They are known for living a nomadic lifestyle, keeping herds of cattle across Nigeria, Niger, Mali, Guinea, and Senegal.
Greg Kelley with World Mission says, “They are constantly looking for pasture land. And they just go through these farming areas and privately-owned land to graze their cattle. They wind up destroying private property. As you can imagine, there’s a tremendous amount of conflict that comes with that.”
The Fulani overwhelmingly identify as Muslim, although the herdsmen tend to be less strict in their practice than those who live in cities. The farmers they clash with tend to be Christians. This creates a religious dimension to the conflict.
But many Fulani themselves become Christians. Kelley says, “In most instances when someone comes to know Jesus out of the Fulani, their family entirely rejects them. They’re kicked out in some cases or physically persecuted. We even hear of people being killed.
The Fulani can be a difficult people group to engage with. But Kelley says, “We have really dozens of missionaries, former Muslim Fulani, that are now sharing the Gospel using our solar-powered audio Bibles in the different dialects.”
Fulani groups speak several different dialects, depending on where they live. Kelley says hearing the Biblical texts in Arabic can be powerful for the Fulani as well since that is the primary language through which they engage with Islam.
Kelley says it comes down to friendship. “We’re not trying to twist their arm and have some kind of debate with them about why Christianity is better than Islam. It’s about introducing them to Jesus and allowing the Holy Spirit to work.”
“The missionaries are doing strategic humanitarian projects, like water projects.”
Ask the Holy Spirit to move among the Fulani. You can support World Mission’s work here.
Header photo courtesy of Dan Lundberg, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.