Welcome to the Central African Republic (CAR), a nation where SIM serves the church through the Bangui Evangelical School of Theology (BEST). Each student at BEST is sponsored by a church denomination or ministry in order to be trained for future service.
Our mission is to serve the churches, particularly those of French-speaking Africa. Each student family is sent by a denomination or para-church organization, in order to be trained for future service in that church or ministry. The needs of the churches drive our programs as we attempt to help them be effective in their work in local settings throughout Africa. This vision includes training the entire family for Christian service. Thus, BEST includes not only a seminary but also a Women’s School, a primary school, and organized activities for the teenage children of seminarians.
Current SIM Ministry
CAR is one of the least developed countries in Africa, with an economy based on subsistence agriculture. If properly managed, the country’s many natural resources could help the entire economy. Fewer than half of the population are functionally literate. French and Sango are the official languages of CAR, but few citizens speak French. Eighty percent consider themselves “Christian,” but for most their faith is nominal. Of more than 80 ethnic groups, seven are considered unreached with the Gospel. Very little Christian work is being done among the Arab and Hausa immigrants, and Islam is making rapid inroads into CAR.SIM has one missionary teaching at the Bangui Evangelical School of Theology (BEST), which offers university-level (first degree through doctorate) ministry training for church leaders from several French-speaking African nations. Students and their families are sent by their sponsoring churches or denominations, which provide funds for their tuition, housing, books, etc. In most cases, the students have little or no financial resources for their personal and family expenses, such as food and clothing, and depend on the Lord for provision of their needs.
The students, both men and women, are being trained for various ministries including Bible translation, pastoral work, missions, Muslim evangelism, Bible school teaching, denominational administration, work among women, youth work, campus ministries, marriage counseling, and being salt and light in African society.
Of more than 80 ethnic groups, seven people groups have been identified with less than 20% of the population having any affiliation with a Christian church. There is very little work among the Arabs and the Hausa. An influx of Muslims from neighboring countries call for clear sharing of Jesus’ compelling love and salvation.
History of Christianity
The Roman Catholic Church began work in Oubangui-Chari, a French colonial territory, in 1894. It has expanded into a thriving work that today comprises five dioceses under an African archbishop.Protestant work began in January 1921, when Baptist Mid-Missions personnel arrived in Rafia to work among the Azande people. That same year, the Grace Brethren International Mission began its own work, followed by the Lutherans, then Swedish Baptists and Swiss Pentecostals.
Reports describe a mass movement towards Christianity beginning in the 1960s and 1970s. Some reports are so optimistic that, if accurate, they would show CAR to be among the most Christianized nations in Africa. Conflicting statistics make definitive statements difficult, but perhaps eighty percent consider themselves “Christian.” Yet for most their faith is nominal.