Perhaps a few words should be shared about some of the people among whom Sonya and I will be working.
The Fulbe are the largest unreached nomadic people group in the world. There are about 39 million of them – larger than the population of Canada!
Over 98% of them are Muslim, and historically they have been in the forefront of Islam, using jihad to push it south down the African continent.
In Nigeria, where we will be ministering part of the time, the Sokoto Caliphate was a Fulbe Muslim empire ruling from the early 1800s to 1903, based in what today is Kano State, and going as far south as the Mambilla Plateau (where they were up against the strong Mambilla people).
When the British government came against this Caliphate it defeated its rulers, and established the Northern Nigerian Protectorate, with a puppet caliph at its head. Because the British did not wish to upset its Fulbe hosts they forbad the Christian missionaries from going north up into the Fulbe empire.
This unwritten law was in effect until Nigeria declared its independence in 1963, after which the missions slowly started to work their way north. This also explains why the country is roughly divided into three sections, running east to west, with Muslims in the north, Christians in the south, and a Middle Belt with about a 60-40 split (Muslims being in the majority).
My Fulbe friends tell me that because of all this the work of the Gospel among the Fulbe is still in the pioneer stages. This is certainly how I feel when I am there working among them. The first Fulbe converts that I know about did not come to Christ until the mid-1990s – though there is evidence that the Spirit of God was at work among the people prior to that time.
Virtually all of the Fulbe Christians I know are first generation believers, coming out of an Islamic background. This accounts, I think, for the fact that their story always sounds to me like the Book of Acts, and why it is so exciting to be a part of this great work of God.