A BRIEF HISTORY OF MISSION WORK IN THE GAMBIA

Christianity was introduced to The Gambia by Portuguese sailors, who arrived in the country in 1456. However, the missionary outreach or activity actually started in 1752 (about 200 years before Gambia’s independence in 1965). For over 250 years, many missionaries from Europe, the United States, Asia and some African countries have come to The Gambia to share the Gospel.

These missionaries employed many different strategies, but they found it difficult to reach even 6% of Gambia’s population (the same applies to Senegal and Guinea-Conakry). This limited success can be traced to an inability to relate well to Gambians, because the missionaries lacked a working knowledge of local culture and Islam.

These shortcomings are the main reason that Christianity has not gained much ground in The Gambia (the same applies to Senegal and Guinea-Conakry). Meanwhile, Islam is spreading into Guinea-Bissau, where whole villages or communities are converting to Islam. (Those Muslims doing the converting are building mosques and drilling boreholes for the people.) 99.9% of Christians in the countries mentioned above do not understand Islam, and foreign missionaries do not understand the various cultures, so it is difficult for either group of people to effectively reach out to the Muslim communities.

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