On the southern edge of the Sahara desert sits a tiny village of about 200 people. It’s a place filled with goats, colorful lizards, onion fields, and some of the most beautiful people you have ever seen. This remote village acts as a haven and a training center for Christians who have fled their homes due to persecution. It is a bright light in a very dark country.
In West Africa, Islam is on the rise and quickly becoming the majority in many countries. Those who convert from Islam to Christianity often face violence and persecution from their community or even their own family. But for new believers in this region of West Africa, they have a safe place to go.
Christian Leaders in Challenging Environment
Hannatu is the leader of the discipleship training center in the village. She is a strong woman. Bold in her faith, yet humble and kind. Christian leaders in the region know that they can send new converts to her for refuge and training. Despite living in an area that is heavily Muslim and known for the persecution of Christians, Hannatu has dedicated her life to teaching new Believers how to walk with the Lord and how to share their new faith.
It takes a lot of courage to share the gospel in the face of possible persecution. But our students did not shy away from opportunities to tell others about Jesus. Our team of five from ITEC had the honor of conducting dental and mechanical trainings in this little village. All 14 students are Christians. Most of them are from Muslim backgrounds. And they all took a week off from their own lives and traveled to this remote village to learn new skills that would give them opportunities to share the gospel with their Muslim neighbors.
Like Hannatu, Yusuf is another strong example of bold faith. Yusuf is a former Muslim sheik. Due to his deep understanding of Islam, he is highly skilled at explaining the gospel to Muslims in a meaningful way, and he rarely passes up an opportunity to do so. Yusuf runs his own discipleship training center for Christians from Muslim backgrounds. Sadly, his ministry was attacked twice by Muslims, so he is now looking for a new location.
Seizing the Opportunities God Gives
During our time in the village, Yusuf shared the gospel with countless people. He even formed a group of 15 Muslim men and women who were especially interested in learning more about Jesus. They met each day, and by the end of the week eight of them gave their lives to Christ!
After seeing the strong faith of our brothers and sisters in West Africa, we are humbled and inspired. So how can we in America respond to such an experience? How can we support our fellow Believers as they courageously live out their faith?
Let’s start by praying for them. Pray for our students. Pray for the persecuted church around the world. Ask the Lord to strengthen them and to help them remain faithful. But let’s also honor them by taking full advantage of the freedoms that we have to share our faith with our own neighbors. What excuse do we have to do anything less?