Though they originated in Mozambique, the majority of Yao people now live in Malawi. The Yao people migrated in the 1800s due to famines and tribal divisions, and befriended their new neighbors. These neighbors, the Swahili Arabs, drew the Yao into the trade of ivory and slaves for guns and cloth. Through this trade agreement, the Yao became one of the most powerful tribes in southeastern Africa. This empire was not to last, however, and work by David Livingstone closed the door to slave trade in British protectorates. The Yao lost their major export but retained the new religion they had found – Islam – which was adopted, though not completely, around the turn of the 20th century.
Perhaps due to the fact that a Christian played a hand in ending their economic empire, the Yao have intentionally insulated themselves against Christianity. In the process, they have also insulated themselves against the only Savior.
Perhaps if the Yao were reached in their own language, Ciyawo, they might respond. They also have significant medical challenges (nutrition, HIV/AIDS and malaria), so medical and educational outreach might have a significant impact.
"Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God." Daniel 3:28
Pray that leaders of this people group will be as amazed at the works of God as this Babylonian king. Pray that they will worship God alone.
Pray that their cultural walls would be lowered and that they would know the true love of God. Pray for invested workers and discipleship movements to spring up among them in Malawi.
|People Name||Muslim Yao|
|Online Audio NT||Yes|
|Christ Followers||Few, less than 2%|