While civil war and ethnic, religious, and political dissension have ravaged many African nations of their stability and peace, Gabon’s story is different. For this Central African nation, stability and peace set it apart; they almost define it. Free from the intense conflicts felt by many Africans, Gabon has enjoyed a relatively quiet past. One of the least densely inhabited nations in Africa, Gabon’s population is comprised of people from over 40 ethnic groups, yet they continue to live in harmony.
Since gaining independence from France in 1960, only three presidents have led Gabon. The second, elected in 1967, casually oversaw the nation for four decades, doing little to firmly establish law and government structures. His son took his place as head of state in 2009. With minimally developed political systems, Gabon desperately needs political organization. Despite political gaps though, the nation has a strong economy, heavily dependent on oil, timber, and mineral exports. The nation has one of the highest per capita incomes in Africa, but there is unfortunate disparity between rich and poor. The majority of the people rely on subsistence farming as a means of survival.
Since the conversion of Gabon’s president to Islam in 1973, the nation has seen an increasing number of Gabonese join the Islamic movement, especially men. Political support and an influx of Muslim immigrants have also contributed to the religion’s growth. Gabonese Christians are struggling to effectively evangelize, and there is great need for such ministries. Advancements of the Gospel have been made among interior peoples, but Christianity continues to face syncretism with perverse cultic practices. Even so, the evangelical Church is steadily growing and maturing as Gabonese believers pray with fervency and zeal, witnessing firsthand the transformational work of their Father, who hears and answers prayers in mighty ways.
Operation World, pg. 350-352