Introduction / History You may not have met a member of the Jola people group, but if you live in the United States, you might know some of their descendants. They were among the peoples taken captive and sold into slavery. The Jolas were prized for their ability to grow rice, one of the staple crops in the southern United States. Before the British and the American colonists were engaged in this evil trade, the Spanish and Portuguese were taking Jola people captive to work their mines and plantations.
In the 1880s Jolas were engaged in palm wine tapping, and by 1900 they were more likely to be found growing peanuts as a cash crop. They also grew sweet potatoes, watermelon, and rice, while others raised cattle and other livestock. There was a great market for their products during WWII.
Where are they located? Most Jola peoples live in Senegal, but many also live in the countries surrounding Senegal including Guinea-Bissau, Gambia, and Guinea.
The people who speak the Bayote Jola dialect live in villages which border Senegal and Gambia. This is the most divergent of the Jola dialects.
What are their lives like? Like the other Jola peoples, the Jola-Bayote Fulup are most likely to be farmers who earn their living by raising crops and livestock.
What are their beliefs? There is some Islamic influence among the Jola peoples, but on a practical level, they are mostly animistic. They use charms and sacred objects to communicate with the spirit world, in hopes that the spirits will protect their families, villages and crops. They also believe these spirits will protect them from converting to Islam or Christianity!
Funerals are very important to the Jola-Bayote Fulup people. They believe that the deceased will join their ancestors. It is very important to perform the correct funeral rites, so that the soul will enter the presence of the creator, Ata Amit, and the ancestors. They believe in living a moral life, because if you live a bad life, your soul will become an exile spirit that roams with no resting place.
What are their needs? Jola peoples need good markets for their produce. They also need the chance to join Christ's family. Anyone who wants to take the gospel to them must overcome their fear of converting to Christianity, and their fear of spirits that want them to remain in spiritual bondage
Prayer Points * Pray that fear of the spirits will give way to faith in Christ when the Jola peoples hear of the finished work of our Lord.
* Pray that the Lord will raise up many African believers to go to the Jola peoples with the exciting news that Jesus Christ offers them abundant life for the here and now and eternal life without fear of becoming a wandering spirit.
* Pray for efforts to disciple the Jola peoples in such a way that discipleship will become a way of life for them.
* Pray for Jola communities to be transformed by the holiness of Christ in such a powerful way that it will amaze non-believers. * Pray for completion of Bible translation in this people group's primary language.