Why should the English-speaking world, and particularly America, be interested in what happens in the French-speaking world? Rarely when one speaks of missions does it contain a coherent plan for bringing the French-speaking world into their destiny in Christ. It is as if the entire English speaking world has forgotten that John Calvin was in fact French, preached briefly in Paris, and carried in his heart the key to the destiny of this part of the world.
World map showing the French speaking nations. (*Clik to enlarge the map)
Today 56 nations are current members of the International organization of French-speaking nations (Organisation International de la francophonie). There are an additional 19 observer nations. In all these nations represent a total population of 890 million people on the planet. Nearly half of all of Africa speaks French! And it is the only primary language spoken on every inhabited continent in the world.
The English language is a relative new-comer to the world stage. Until recently French was considered the international language of diplomacy. And even today signs in the United Nations building in New York are written in English and French.
The French territories
Much like Spain, Portugal and the United Kingdom France has seen its colonies around the world seek independence since the end of World War II. Nevertheless, France maintains territories around the globe:
• The Caribbean: Martinique, Guadeloupe and St Martin
• The Indian Ocean: Reunion Island and Mauritius
• The South Pacific: Tahiti and French Polynesia
• The north Atlantic: St Pierre
Nearly half of the African continent is French-speaking. These would include the following countries:
Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, parts of Ghana, Gabon, Congo, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, The Central African Republic, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Madagascar, Rwanda, Senegal, and Togo.
The French language is the one factor that can indeed unite the Arabic countries in the north with the predominantly black countries of the south. Currently there is an enormous increase in evangelical church growth throughout French-speaking countries in Africa. This growth is also seen among Africans living abroad in Europe and north America.
The strategic importance of the French-speaking world
Because of the nearly 1 billion people represented in the French-speaking world, France, and in particular Paris, has enormous influence. There is no city in the French-speaking world that begins to rival the cultural, economic and political influence of Paris. The French president has a voice on the world stage that is disproportionate to the size of the nation of France. This is because to some degree he speaks for all French-speaking peoples of the world.
The French-speaking world is also one of the most important battle grounds between the Judeo-Christian values of the west and the radical Islamic values of the middle east. Nowhere is this more evident than in many French-speaking African nations as well as France and Belgium.
It is essential that the English-speaking world wake up to the strategic importance of this part of the world and begin to seek better cooperation and collaboration with French-speaking countries.