1,000 Books for the Burkina Nuna
Defining an unreached people group is not always a straightforward proposition. Most missiologists describe an unreached people group as an ethnic group without an indigenous, self-propagating Christian church movement. Any ethnic or ethnolinguistic nation without enough Christians to evangelize the rest of the nation is an “unreached people group” (Lausanne Committee on Global Evangelism). Identifying such groups can be a bit tricky. Add the statistical definition that many Protestant agencies use and the term is applied to ethnic groups in which less than 2% of the population is Evangelical Protestant Christian.
What makes such definitions problematic (although I can offer none better) is the fine-tuning. What, for example, of those groups that have been “evangelized’ so that their numbers are above 2% but who are not equipped to function as a self-propagating church? And what of ethnolinguistic groups in which portions of the population have heard and received the gospel in numbers much higher than 2-5% but whose geographical and linguistic diversity causes many of those categorized as “reached” to continue to be outliers and exceptions?
One example is the Nuna (or Nunuma) people of Ghana and Burkina Faso. The Nuna people are listed as “reached” by both the Joshua Project and Operation World, which applies primarily to the southern Nuna. The Northern Nuna are another story. While the Southern Nuna has seen significant inroads for the gospel, the influence of traditional beliefs remains strong among the Northern Nuna. While much of Burkina Faso follows Islam, 60% of the Nuna still identify with their traditional religion. The prevailing worldview involves spirits and gods governing various aspects such as events, harvests, and health. Ritual sacrifices are seen as a means to appease these spirits. Notably, the village of Pouni stands out for its spiritual practices, including the creation and exhibition of masks associated with religious ceremonies, turning Pouni into a tourist destination.
Because of the prevalence of those traditional beliefs, the Christian message has encountered resistance among the Northern Nuna. In addition to the cultural challenges, the literature welcomed among the Southern Nuna requires adaptation before it is welcomed in the northern regions. While primers and translated Scriptures are available in the southern region, those resources are not always fit for the distinct context of the north.
In February, we are starting a project in Burkina Faso to make Simple Truths for the New Believer available to the Nuna people. Our contacts in Burkina have identified a competent translator and a printer and have sufficient funds to print the first 1,000 books in the Nuna language. We are quite encouraged to be a part of reaching the Nuna people and helping the growing Nuna church.
Pray that the translator and printers will do good work. Pray for the team that will distribute the books and use them to evangelize and disciple. We pray that this “little book” can be a tool to reach many with the gospel AND help the Nuna church become a stronger and successfully self-propagating Christian community.