Mauritius has been called the 'forgotten mission field'. A beautiful tropical tourist destination, it is home to more than a million people, over half of whom are Hindus, the politically dominant group. There is also a large minority population of Muslims. There is official freedom of religion, but all activity directed to evangelising Hindus is resisted and missionary visas have been very difficult to obtain.
Current SIM Ministry
Theological training and leadership development are perhaps the two greatest needs. Missionaries began an informal 2-hour Bible class for about 40 church leaders in the early 1990s, a ministry that later grew into the Mauritian Bible Training Institute (MBTI). Currently SIM partners with Service d'Instruction et Mobilisation (SIM), a local company in Mauritius, offering training to pastors and church leaders. The goal of this training is to help pastors gain competency in their ministries and to start teaching ministries of their own.
SIM's Partner Church
SIM (AEF) missionaries first went to Mauritius in 1969, and their early efforts were invested in planting churches. Those congregations are now registered with the government as the Mauritian Evangelical Church (MEC). An unofficial relationship is maintained between these churches and SIM missionaries.
Largely unreached groups include Muslims, with only a few known believers; Rodrigues Creoles, who are mainly nominal Roman Catholics; and the Franco-Mauritian population which is strongly Roman Catholic and has only a few known believers who are often ostracised by their community. Indo-Mauritian families, all strongly Hindu, may make life difficult for family members who become Christians.
History of Christianity
Lazarist Fathers began the evangelisation of Mauritius in 1722, which they carried on for nearly a century. In 1819 the work was given to the Benedictines, with Port Louis as the centre of a vicariate which included Madagascar, South Africa, and Australia until 1837, and the Seychelles and St. Helena until 1852. In 1847 Port Louis was made a diocese, and the first Holy Ghost and Jesuit priests appeared after the middle of the century.
Anglicans first entered Mauritius in 1810 and continue to be the largest portion of the non-Catholic Christian community. Eglise Réformée Indépendante de I’lle Maurice (LMS) began in Mauritius in 1814, a work which is now incorporated into the Church of Scotland. Seventh-Day Adventists, who belong to the Indian Ocean Union Mission, have built up 15 congregations and a substantive community since their arrival in 1914.
The National Church
Officially, Mauritius offers freedom of religion and names no official state church. However, the government budget includes an annual allocation to the Catholic and Anglican churches under the headings 'personal emoluments' and 'other recurrent charges'. The Church of Scotland receives only the second of these. Under the title 'subsidisation of religions', other registered religious associations receive government funds.
Please pray for
- Service d'Instruction et Mobilisation (SIM) to touch and help churches all over the island.
- visas for missionaries.
- continued unity among the churches in Mauritius, with an effective gospel witness.
Visit the SIM Mauritius website to learn more.