Madagascar - (Africa)

Information about Madagascar

587040 square kilometres
indigenous beliefs 52%, Christian 41% (RCath 26%, Prot 22%:Reformation, Luth, Ev, Pent, Angl),Muslim 7%
Christian (%)
Protestant (%)
Reformed (%)

The first missionary efforts in Madagascar were made by RCath in the 16th century. Further efforts by Portuguese Jesuits and French Lazarists in the 17th and 18th centuries were made without lasting fruits. The first Ref missionaries were sent by the London Missionary Society (LMS). On August 18, 1818, Pastor David Jones and Thomas Bevan arrived in Toamasina, the harbor at the Eastern coast of Madagascar. They enjoyed the protection of King Radama I (1810-1828). They opened a school and succeeded in attracting many young people from noble Malagasy families. In subsequent years many more schools were opened. Though all missionaries, with the exception of Jones, died soon after their arrival, the work went on. Until the death of King Radama other LMS missionaries were allowed to come to the island. One of their important achievements was reducing the Malagasy language into Latin script; the first translation of the Bible was published in Antananarivo in 1835.
Under Radama’s widow and successor Ranavalona I (1828-1861) a period of brutal persecution began. In 1835, the same year as the Bible was published, the missionaries were forced to leave the country and many Malagasy converts suffered martyrdom. The first to be executed was a woman called Rasalama. This time of persecution also gave birth to indigenous leadership (Rafaravavy Mary and Andriambelo +1904). The memory of this dark period plays a significant role in the life of the churches in Madagascar.
Under the short reign of Ranavalona’s son the situation changed again. He sought to modernize the country and favored mission work. Queen Ranavalona II converted to the Ref faith in 1869, and large numbers of the upper class followed her example. Other Prot missions began work in various parts of the island (Angl 1864, Norwegian Luth 1866, Quaker 1867). The growing influence of France led to tensions between RCath and Prot. To strengthen their work, the Prot mission asked for the support of the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society in 1895. In 1896 Madagascar became a French colony. The rivalry between RCath and Prot continued throughout the following decades.




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