Archive for the ‘About Madagascar’Category

David Jones: Pioneer Missionary to Madagascar

David Jones was one of the first missionaries to Madagascar during the early 1800s.  He faced many hardships, but pressed on for the Gospel’s sake.  Through his faithful labors, he developed a written language system for Malagasy (still in use today). Shortly thereafter he, with the help of coworkers and Malagasy nationals, translated the entire Bible into the Malgasasy language.  The Word of the Lord spread rapidly and had free course among the people.  But within 20 years of Jones’ arrival, severe persecution took place at the hand of Queen Ranavalona, including the enslaving and killing of many believers.  God used the affliction to purify His people; and, as so often is the case amongst the persecuted, to strengthen and spread His kingdom in Madagascar.  The years of trial were followed by a period of religious freedom, after which came the bondage of European colonization.  To this day, millions of Malagasy have never heard the true Gospel.

How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?

Daniel put together the video posted above for a class project several years ago.  At that time, the population of Madagascar was 18 million.  The census now reports over 20 million.  (It seems that ever since we’ve been researching this country, the population has grown at a rate of 1 million per year!)



09 2009

Back in the U.S.A

On Wednesday morning at the Atlanta-Hartsfield International Airport, a very joyful event took place:


I’m thrilled to be back with my family.

Since Internet access was limited during my time away, I would like to share over the next few days  more of what God did during our visit. Many prayed for this trip, and I want to tell you about God’s answer to your prayers.


Hana Kate is holding a ring-tailed lemur toy..


08 2009

Unreached People and Getting Around


Unreached People Groups

One of my goals during my 24-day visit is to survey some of the unreached people groups of Madagascar. Three tribes in particular stand out as most needy. I will attempt to visit rural villages of each of these people groups during my visit.

1.  Antakarana

Meaning: “People of the Rocks”

Population: 140,000

Location: northern tip of the island

Geography: extremely mountainous; dense wet forest

2. Antanosy

Meaning: “People of the Island”

Population: 513,000

Location: extreme south

Geography: mountain ridge, some dense rain forest and other arid regions

3.  Antandroy

Meaning: “People of the Thorns”

Population: 928,000

Location: south central region

Geography: desert

Much of this information comes from the a survey completed by the IMB (International Mission Board) of the SBC. They deserve a significant “thank you ” for their massive effort — an effort spread across several years and shared by dozens of believers — to “discover the tribes with the least amount of access to the gospel” in Madagascar. I constantly use for research, prayer, and reference, the 130-page document that they produced.

Infrastructure Challenges


Part of the difficulty in reaching these tribes is the lack of good roads. On Saturday, I spoke with a missionary who plans on moving in August to minister to the Antankarana people.  He described the roads in Madagascar as “the worst he’s seen in his entire life.” Since the traditional road trip may not be ideal, we will utilize other modes of transportation.

Helicopter: We plan on traveling north via helicopter, utilizing a missionary helicopter service whose goal is to bring the gospel to unreached areas. Because the north is so mountainous, many of these isolated villages are inaccessible by any other means than helicopter (or laborious and time-consuming hiking).

Airplane: I will fly to a city in the south (Fort Dauphin) that is equipped with an airport. The flight will put me within a reasonable driving distance of the Antandroy and Antanosy.

Taxi-brousse, dirt bike, oxcart, pirogue, or who-knows-what-else: The public transportation of choice is the taxi-brousse (literally: bush-taxi). Usually consisting of a vintage van or a retrofitted pickup, these can accommodate large numbers of people. No seat reservations, no amenities: just pile on. Motorcycle or dirt bike rentals are available in some places. Traveling with bikes is usually faster than a car or truck. Oxcarts are slow, but steady. Some Madagascar missionaries and/or explorers have used pirogues, hovercraft, or other means to find their way to out-of-the-way places along bodies of water. Obviously, we are not opposed to using our feet, but Madagascar is a big island.


Please Pray

Please pray for the lost and needy souls in Madagascar. Many have no access to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The ultimate objective of my survey trip is to prepare for long-term ministry among the unreached. Pray for our safety, success, and facility as we travel throughout the island..


07 2009

How Many People Are There?

Lots of them.

Madagascar’s population is 20,653,556. Big numbers tend to lose real meaning in my mind sometimes, so are some comparisons to put that number into perspective.

  • Their population is not too far behind Australia’s (Australia’s population is  21,853,000).
  • Their population is higher than the population of any single U.S. state, except California and Texas.
  • Their population is higher than better-known countries like Greece, Sweden, Israel, Hong Kong, Cameroon, Zambia, and many more.
  • In fact, Madagascar’s population is the 57th-highest in the world (on a comprehensive list of 223 countries and territories).

Madagascar is growing…fast. The population growth rate is more than 3%, which is the 13th highest in the world (the U.S. has a population growth rate of .08%).  Average Malagasy moms have five kids.

Obviously, those are just numbers and boring statistics. But, whatever way you slice it, that’s a lot of people. The grim side of those numbers is that the vast majority of them are practicing animists, meaning that they worship animals, dead ancestors, and big trees, not the one true God.



07 2009

How Big Is It Anyway?


Until 2005, most Americans heard very little about Madagascar. Even today, two feature-length animation films later, singing lemurs and violent fossa are most of what comes to people’s minds at the mention of Madagascar. One common misunderstanding about the country is its size. Maybe this will help to put it in perspective:

  • Madagascar is the fourth-largest island in the world. Great Britain is number nine on the Biggest Island List.
  • Even though it is an “island,” please do not think “Hawaii.” This place makes Hawaii look like a sandbar. Madagascar is about 146 times bigger than the island of Hawaii.
  • From top to bottom, Madagascar is a little bit longer than 968 miles. That’s about the straight-line distance from Bismark, ND to Dallas, TX…or from New York City to Springfield, MO.
  • From east to west, Madagascar is as wide as 352 miles.
  • It’s twice as big as Arizona, the 6th largest state in the U.S.
  • It’s bigger than Spain, Germany, Japan, Iraq, Kenya, and Cameroon.
  • It’s the 46th largest country in the world (out of a list of 233 countries and territories)

More important than its geographical size is Madagascar’s population, something that I’ll write about later.



07 2009

Destination Fort Dauphin: Confirmed

Bay at Tolanaro

Today, I was able to purchase tickets from Antananarivo, the capitol of Madagascar, to Fort Dauphin, a city located in the extreme south of the island. Fort Dauphin, alternately known as Tolanaro, Tolagnaro and Taolagnaro, is a regional capitol, recognized for its beauty and economic promise. On my return flight to Antananarivo, I will have a layover in Tulear, another city I wanted to visit.

Countryside near Fort Dauphin.

Countryside near Fort Dauphin.

I choose to visit and research Fort Dauphin for the following reasons: Read the rest of this entry →


07 2009

Malagasy Wildlife in Greenville, by Hana Kate


Last week, I got to take Daddy and Mommy on a mini-survey trip to see some animals from Madagascar. But we didn’t even have to leave Greenville! If you take a visit to the Greenville Zoo, you might be surprised to find MANY animals from Madagascar. I think my favorite is the lemur! My daddy has a book that has a lemur on the front cover, and at first I thought it was a cat; but now I can say “yemurh.” I hope Daddy gets to see one this summer. Maybe he will bring one home for me? When many people think about Madagascar, a lot of them think about lemurs and baobab trees, two things that Madagascar is famous for.

Read the rest of this entry →


07 2009

What do they believe?

In a country with millions of practicing animists, what are the prevailing beliefs like? Here is a brief explanation:

At the beginning of time the Creator was Zanahary or Andriananahary. Now the Malagasy worship one god, Andriamanitra, who is neither male nor female. (Andriamanitra is also a word for silk, the fabric of burial shrouds.)croc

Many rural people believe in ‘secondary gods’ or nature spirits, which may be male or female, and which inhabit certain trees, rocks (which are known as ody) or rivers. People seeking help from the spirit world may visit one of these sites for prayer. Spirits are thought to possess humans who fall into a trance-like state, called tromba by the Sakalava and bilo by the Antandroy. Some clans or communities believe that spirits can also possess animals, particularly crocodiles.

The Malagasy equivalent of the soul is ambiroa. When a person is in a dream state it can temporarily separate from the body, and at death it becomes an immortal razana. Death, therefore, is merely a change and not an end. A special ceremony usually marks this rite of passage, with feasting and the sacrifice of zebu. The mood of the participants alternates between sorrow and joy.

(From the Bradt Travel Guide, 9th ed.)

Jesus died and rose again so that these people, living in bondage to evil spirits, sin, and fear, may be changed. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24)..


07 2009