The Dendi of Benin are a challenging people to reach with the gospel of Jesus Christ. One of seventy ethnic groups in Benin, the Dendi are situated in the northernmost region of the country, along the Niger river where, until recent years, they avoided contact with modern missionary outreach. Northern Benin is considered to be one of the harshest climates in the world; it is located between the southern tropical coastal region of West Africa and the harsh Sahara desert to the north. As a people, the Dendi are very proud of their language and culture. It is estimated that they are almost entirely Muslim (99.93%).
In recent years, many have prayed for the Dendi and God is answering those prayers. A small association of indigenous baptist churches has grown out of years of evangelistic effort. From this association a growing cry has risen to reach the Dendi by ministering to them in tangible ways. In 2012 GDMMissions sent a team of medical professionals to the region and were impacted by the great physical need and the even greater spiritual need. They were also impressed by the expressed desire of local ministry leaders to assist with the medical needs of the population. One pastor offered his motorcycle as an "ambulance." Another believer gave up a sizable sum to purchase medications and open a small clinic in a mud hut just a short distance behind the church in his village. Clearly the initiative to minister to the local population is present, yet the means to treat the overall population in many of these rural villages has not yet materialized.
Despite great advances in communication and transportation over the past decade, the majority of the Dendi still do not have access to medical care to meet even their most basic needs. Infant mortality rates are extremely high; preventable deaths related to malaria and other infectious diseases often go untreated. Many die from what are considered "unknown causes" because the means are not readily available to diagnose and treat them.
But the Dendi peoples have an even greater need for the spiritual rebirth that can only come from hearing the truth about our Lord Jesus Christ. Our prayer is that God will use a permanent Benin Clinic and volunteer medical teams will bring news of the Great Physician who can cure the sickness of men's souls.