The Betsimisaraka are the second largest ethnic group in Madagascar, their name means “the many inseparables”. There are two distinct groups within the Betsimisaraka the Northern and Southern – separated by location, dialect, and various ritual practices. The Northern Betsimisaraka live along the coast and have a history of trading and interacting with European merchants. The influence of European travelers can be seen in their music and dancing. The Northern Betsimisaraka practice ancient ethnic religions. They practice “tromba” which is a dance where men and women are used as mediums and spectators to invoke spirit possession. There are many “fady” or actions that are considered taboo among the Northern Betsimisaraka. These “fady” include: refraining from shaking your sister’s hand or ceasing to speak the name of the chief after his death. During pregnancy, women must remain in the “komby”, a special birthing house, until special rituals have taken place.
Engagement // What's Happening Now
The Assemblies of God first sent missionaries to Madagascar in the 1970s. They established a Bible school in Antananarivo and then began to push a church-planting movement across Madagascar with Africa Task Force Evangelism.
One major way of ministering to the Malagasy people is through HIV/AIDS Awareness seminars. A strong resource and ministry that aids in these efforts is Cry Africa. Through their awareness seminars and the Assemblies of God in Madagascar, Malagasy people are being educated about HIV/AIDS and a door is opened to share the gospel.
Sustainability // The Bigger Story
Since the Assemblies of God sent missionaries to Madagascar, two Bible schools, two elementary schools, a clinic, an orphanage, and numerous churches have been established. As the efforts to reach those in Madagascar continue, pray the church ministers to the Betsimisaraka.
Partnership // Move Beyond
Please spend a few minutes in prayer for the following:
- Pray God sends more workers to minister to the Betsimisaraka.
- Pray for compassion ministries as they bless them by providing practical needs.
- Pray for those in the Bible schools, that the Holy Spirit will lead them to minister in Betsimisaraka communities.
- Pray churches that are planted in the northwestern coasts of Madagascar may establish Christian centers among them.