Once a French colony, the West African nation of Benin gained independence in 1960 and was then ruled by a Marxist-Leninist government. In 1989, Benin successfully transferred to a representative government and is now known for maintaining one of Africa’s most stable democracies. With a population just below ten million, Benin is hidden in the shadows of its neighbor Nigeria, one of the most populous nations on earth.
Although the democracy is considered stable, the government, like many in Africa, is permeated with corruption. One-third of the population lives in poverty, and barely one-third is literate. One of the world’s 20 least developed nations, Benin struggles to provide economic opportunities for its citizens. Many parents sell their children as slaves, mostly to the neighboring nation of Nigeria, and most of these precious children will never again see home. There are 50,000 children trafficked out of Benin each year. Black market trading and smuggling are widespread as well.
Historically one of the least evangelized nations in Africa, the Church in Benin has grown from 50,000 people to 770,000 in just thirty years. However, the nation also has one of the highest rates of syncretism, specifically combining Christianity, animism, and Voodoo. The need for trained pastors is high in order to disciple the growing number of Christians. There is also great need for media ministry in Benin, as most of the nation is illiterate. Nearly half of the languages in Benin do not have a Bible to inform the 60 total people groups of the loving nature of God.