Dear Sabbath School Leader,

This quarter features the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division. More than 164 million people live in this division, of which almost 2.6 million are Seventh-day Adventists. About one person out of every 63 is a Seventh-day Adventist.

The Challenges

The three countries featured this quarter represent the broad spectrum of challenges facing the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division.

Madagascar is an island nation lying off the eastern coast of the continent of Africa. It has a population of about 20 million and an Adventist membership of about 127,050, or one Adventist for every 157 people. The church operates schools, medical clinics, orphanages, and other outreach programs. Almost half the population of Madagascar are Christians, and an equal number follow traditional Malagasy beliefs that include honoring dead ancestors. Close family ties make changing one’s religion difficult in this culture.

Namibia is a sparsely populated country lying along the southwestern coast of Africa. About one person out of every 120 is an Adventist. About 85 percent of the population is Black Africans, a significant number of whom continue to speak their traditional languages. While a majority of the population follow basic Christian beliefs, significant numbers of tribal people continue to follow their traditional beliefs. One of these groups, the Himba, is the focus of part of the Thirteenth Sabbath Offering this quarter.

South Africa, occupying the southernmost portion of the African continent is the most developed country in Africa. Black Africans comprise about three quarters of South Africa’s population while Whites, coloreds (mixed race), and Asians (mostly Indians) comprise the remaining one quarter. While English and Afrikaans are the most widely spoken languages, a significant percentage of the population speaks one or more of at least 11 African languages. While most South Africans claim to be Christians, just one out of every 513 are Seventh-day Adventists.

Yours for the kingdom,

Charlotte Ishkanian
Editor, Mission 

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