Have you ever heard of the country of Gabon? It is small, central African nation located on the west coast. Compared to many of its neighbors, Gabon has been a stable, relatively peaceful place. Gabon became a French possession in 1885. It gained its independence from France in 1960. One of the reasons for Gabon's stability is President Omar Bongo (1967-2009). Even though at times he suppressed human rights and kept control of the press, he did provide a measure of continuity and support in the 42 years he served as the nation's leader. President Bongo became a Muslim in 1973 and began supporting Muslim interests and building mosques in Gabon. Bongo's son became president upon his father's death in 2009. Arabs arrived in Gabon in the 19th century as merchants and slave traders. Some decided to remain in the country. More Arabs arrived after 1973 when President Bongo began naming Muslims to key political and economic positions in his government. French is the official language of Gabon with over half the population speaking the language. Most of the people also speak at least one local Bantu language. The primary language of the Gabonese Arabs is Arabic. They also speak French and often English.
The Muslim population of Gabon is rapidly growing. Arabs make up the middle and upper classes of the country. The current Muslim president is actively encouraging Muslim Arabs to come to and live in Gabon. Arabs work a managers and administrators in Gabon's government and businesses. Some own shops, restaurants and businesses in the tourist industry. Oil production provides 81% of export revenues in Gabon. Unless more oil fields are found, Gabon's oil resources will be depleted in the next few years. They are making plans for a post-oil economy. After oil, logging is a major source of wealth. At one time over 90% of Gabon's land was covered with tropical forests. Many Gabonese Arab men work in the oil and lumber industries. The mining of manganese and iron also contribute to Gabon's economy. Muslim Arab parents want their children to marry within their group even if that means bringing a spouse in from another nation. Marriage to one spouse is the norm even though a wealthy Muslim man can have up to four wives. The father is the head of the household. Women are gaining more independence as they obtain college educations and work outside the home.
The Arabs who live in Gabon are almost all Sunni Muslims. Sunnis try to obey the teachings of the Koran and the prophet Mohammad. Sunnis believe that by following the Five Pillars of Islam that they will attain paradise when they die. However, Allah, the supreme God of the universe, determines who enters paradise. Sunnis pray five times a day facing Mecca. They fast the month of Ramadan. They attend mosque services on Friday. If a Muslim has the means, he or she will make a pilgrimage to Mecca once in his or her lifetime. Muslims are also prohibited from drinking alcohol, eating pork, gambling, stealing, using deceit, slandering, and making idols. The two main holidays for Sunni Muslims are Eid al Fitr, the breaking of the monthly fast and Eid al Adha, the celebration of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son to Allah. A tiny fraction of Arabs in Gabon claims to be followers of Jesus Christ.
Islam is a big part of a Muslim Arabs personality and heritage. He or she must come to understand that Isa or Jesus is much more than a human prophet as he is described in the Koran. He is the Son of God and God's only way of forgiving sins.
Pray that the few Arab Christians in Gabon would grow in their faith and reach out to their Muslim neighbors. Pray that Muslims would take advantage of the Christian TV and radio programs in Arabic. Pray the Lord raised up a Disciple Making Movement among the Gabonese Arabs this decade. Pray that a strong movement to Jesus will bring whole Arab families and communities into a rich experience of God's blessings.
Scripture Prayers for the Arab in Gabon.
|Profile Source: Joshua Project
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