Reaching the Nations

Chad

By David Stewart and Matt Martinich

Return to Table of Contents

Geography

Area: 1,259,000 square km.  Landlocked in Central Africa, Chad borders Sudan, the Central Africa Republic, Cameroon, Nigeria, Niger, and Libya.  The Sahara Desert occupies the north whereas the semi-arid Sahel occupies central Chad.  The southernmost areas are tropical.  Most of the terrain consists of low-lying plains although there are some mountains in the northwest.  Lake Chad forms the boundary with Cameroon and is rapidly shrinking due to desertification and diversion of tributary rivers for agriculture.  Natural hazards include Harmattan winds bringing hot, dusty air from the Sahara, and occasional droughts.  Limited fresh water, pollution, and desertification are environmental issues.  Chad is divided into 18 administrative regions.

Population: 10,758,945 (July 2011)

Annual Growth Rate: 2.009% (2011)

Fertility Rate: 5.05 children born per woman (2011)

Life Expectancy: 47.28 male, 49.43 female (2011)

Peoples

Sara: 27.7%

Arab: 12.3%

Mayo-Kebbi: 11.5%

Kanem-Bornou: 9%

Ouaddai: 8.7%

Hadjarai: 6.7%

Tandjile: 6.5%

Gorane: 6.3%

Fitri-Batha: 4.7%

Other: 6.4%

Unknown: 0.3%

High ethnic diversity exists, as the largest ethnic group constitutes less than one-third of the population.  Central and southern Chad are the most populated regions whereas northern arid areas have few inhabitants.  Sara are a Sudanese ethnic group and reside in extreme southern Chad.  Arabs mainly populate central and southeastern areas of the country.  Other ethnic groups primary live in central or southern Chad and are of Sudanese, Semitic or Hausa origin. 

Languages:  Arabic (9%), Ngambay (9%), Kanembu (4%), Dazaga (3%), Maba (3%), Naba (3%), Mundang (2%), Musey (2%), other (65%). French and Arabic are official languages and widely spoken as second languages.  131 native languages are spoken.  No languages have over one million native speakers.

Literacy: 25.7%

History

Modern-day Chad has been inhabited for thousands of years.  Islam arrived in northern Chad before 1000 AD and southern expansion did not occur.  The French began their colonial presence in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and gave greater autonomy to Chad following World War II.  Independence from France was achieved in 1960.  For the following thirty years, Chad endured civil war and war with neighboring Libya.  Democratic elections were held in the 1990s which were deemed flawed by international observers.  Conflict between the government and rebel groups in northern Chad occurs frequently.  In the mid-2000s, rebel groups in Sudan began attacks on Chad's eastern border and civil conflict escalated.  In recent years, the capital N'djamena has come under threat from rebel forces. 

Culture 

Chad is divided north to south between Muslim and Christian/Animist peoples.  A third of Chadian women are influenced by polygamy.  Female genital mutilation is a serious problem; an estimated half of women have been victims of the practice.  Government banned the practice in 2002, although it continues in many areas.  The treatment of women and cultural restrictions vary based on location.[1]  The most widely eaten food is millet.  Soccer is the most popular sport.  Alcohol consumption rates are lower than most countries. 

Economy

GDP per capita: $1,600 [3.38% of US] (2010)

Human Development Index: 0.295

Corruption Index: 1.7

Agriculture drives the economy. Chad's landlocked position and high governmental corruption hamper greater economic development and diversification.  80% of the population lives below the poverty line and sustains itself on subsistence farming and herding.   Primary agriculture products include cotton, sorghum, and millet.  The primary industry is oil production.  American and Chinese oil companies arrived in the 2000s and began extracting the oil reserves.  90% of exports are destined to the United States, although China has increased considerably as a trade partner in recent years.  Other major trade partners include France, and Cameroon. 

Chad is ranked as one of the most corrupt nations worldwide and corruption can be found in all levels on government.  Recent oil exploration and extraction has exacerbated corruption and inequality in wealth.

Faiths

Muslim: 53.1%

Christian: 34.3%

Animist: 7.3%

Other: 0.5%

Unknown: 1.7%

Atheist: 3.1%

Christians

Denominations  Members  Congregations

Catholic   900,000

Seventh Day Adventists   3,627  43

Jehovah's Witnesses   616  18

Latter-Day Saints  less than 50

Religion

Muslims constitute over half the population and live primarily in northern Chad and urban areas.  Tensions exist between moderate and fundamental Muslims and between Muslims and Christians.  Christians populate southern and urban areas and account for a third of the population.  Catholics are the most visible Christian denomination.  Chadians following indigenous beliefs primarily reside in the south.[2]

Religious Freedom

Persecution Index:

The constitution allows for religious freedom which is generally respected by the government.  Chad has no official religion but shows favoritism towards Islam.  Some radical Muslim groups are banned.  There are connections between local religious leaders and the oil industry and oil revenues.  Religious groups must register with the government and maintain peaceful coexistence with other faiths.  Foreign missionaries may serve in Chad but since July 2007 have been banned from open proselytism.  Religious instruction is not allowed in public schools.[3]

Largest Cities

Urban: 27%

N'Djamena, Moundou, Sarh, Abeche, Kelo, Koumra, Pala, Am Timan, Bongor, Mongo.

None of the 10 largest cities have a congregation.  12% of the national population lives in the 10 largest cities.

LDS History

In 1998, Chad was included in the Africa West Area.  Once of the first Chadian members, Toupta Boguena, was baptized in Arizona in 1997 and returned to Chad in 2003.  At the time she was the only member in N'djamena and the closest member was an American working in southern Chad in Doba.[4] 

Membership Growth

LDS Membership: less than 50 (2008)

In 2003, only two members likely lived in the country.

Congregational Growth

Branches: 0

Members worship in the privacy of their own homes and are too few and spread apart to justify Sunday meetings.  The responsibility for Church affairs in Chad falls under the Africa West Area presidency. 

Activity and Retention

No converts appear to have been baptized in Chad.

Language Materials

Languages with LDS Scripture: Arabic, French,

The Church has all LDS scriptures and most Church materials available in Arabic and French.  Gospel Principles and The Prophet Joseph Smith's Testimony are available in Fulani.

Meetinghouses

No Church meetings occur.

Health and Safety

HIV/AIDS infects 3.5% of the population.  Common methods of infection include illicit sexual relations, drug use, contaminated needs, and HIV-positive mothers.  However, HIV is not spread by casual contact and is not likely to prevent the Church's establishment. 

Humanitarian and Development Work

Since 2003, Toupta Boguena, a Chadian scholar and BYU graduate, has organized relief and development projects under "The Chad Project."  Most of the members of the organization reside in Utah and ship farming equipment, seeds, water pumps, wheelchairs, medical equipment, and school kits to distribute in villages.  Toupta Boguena also teaches at the University of N'djamena. 

 

Opportunities, Challenges and Prospects

Religious Freedom

The Church's absence is likely not due to the Church's failure to obtain recognition as registration has likely not been pursued since so few members live in the country.  Bans on open proselytism would limit the Church's traditional missionary program if introduced to Chad. 

Cultural Issues

Widespread poverty, insurgencies, and ethnic conflicts have likely discouraged the Church from more actively pursuing missionary work in Chad.  Those wishing to join the Church engaged in a polygamous marriage must end these relations in divorce and be interviewed by a member of the mission or area presidency.

National Outreach

Chad's remote location challenges mission outreach.  Chad has never fallen under the jurisdiction of a mission.  Rebel forces in northern and eastern Chad would keep many regions unreached by the Church once established in N'djamena.  Outreach in the larger cities and in southern Chad appears most favorable for future missionary opportunities due to larger Christian populations and greater stability. 

Member Activity and Convert Retention

Member activity and doctrinal understanding of members in Chad likely depend on the quality of teaching received in the country they joined the Church in and gospel habits developed prior to relocating to Chad. 

Ethnic Issues and Integration

The Church will likely experience ethnic integration issues early in its establishment in Chad due to the high ethnic diversity.  Ethnic groups in the same congregation which have traditional ties to differing religious and cultural practices will likely cause the most friction.  These issues may impact member activity and convert retention rates if early conflicts are not promptly addressed.

Language Issues

Chad's language diversity challenges future Church outreach as most Chadians only have Church materials in their second language.  Arabic-speaking Chadians will likely be less receptive to the Church as most adhere to Islam.  French will likely be used in meetings and teaching investigators.

Leadership

No native leadership likely resides in Chad.  The establishment of congregations and long-term Church growth will hinge of the conversion of Chadian men and their consistency in attending meetings and following Church teachings.

Temple

Chad either pertains to the Aba Nigeria or Accra Ghana Temple district.  No temple trips are organized.

Comparative Growth

The African nation with a Church presence that shares the most similarities with Chad is the Central African Republic.  The Central African Republic has seen very little progress since the first congregations were organized almost two decades ago.  This may indicate that future outreach in Chad may yield some initial results but face little growth and expansion due to geographic isolation and the many complex government, social, and religious issues.  Most nations in the region have no Church presence and few to no LDS members. Mali appears to be the only nearby African nation without a formal Church presence that has a few local members. 

Other Christian denominations have seen growth in Chad in recent years.  These efforts have primarily occurred in larger cities and in the south.  Many of these denominations have had a presence in Chad for over a decade.

Future Prospects

The Church in Central Africa has seen increasing outreach and expansion into neighboring nations, but prospects for future Church establishment in Chad appeared unfavorable in early 2010.  Insurgencies and widespread poverty challenge missionary efforts.  Once greater stability is established, Chad appears a likely candidate for Church-sponsored humanitarian and development work starting in the southern regions.  Such efforts can aim at improving quality of life of Chadians, establishing good terms with the government, and preparing the way for a future Church presence.


[1] "Chad," Social Institutions and Gender Index, retrieved 12 March 2010.  http://genderindex.org/country/chad

[2] "Chad," International Religious Freedom Report 2009, 26 October 2009.  http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2009/127224.htm

[3] "Chad," International Religious Freedom Report 2009, 26 October 2009.  http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2009/127224.htm

[4] Heaps, Julie Dockstader.  "Fulfilling a promise to her father," LDS Church News, 4 March 2006.  http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/48594/Fulfilling-a-promise-to-her-father.html