Niger - God at Work in the Heart of Africa

 by Nate Bramsen, with Justin Gauvain and Jonathan Hayes

 

Though many have no idea of Niger's geographical location and even confuse it with Nigeria, God is doing a powerful work in one of the world's often forgotten nations. He is assembling a team of workers with a vision and heart for the people of Niger, specifically the children, and exciting things are happening.

 

A TEAM FORMED WITH PRAYER

Over the past two years God has assembled this team, currently eight adults and two children, with a few more being added this year. We rejoice to see the men and women God is gathering from many nations to reach the previously unreached, and to see children and adults impacted by the love of Jesus. That said, prayer is not merely a tool God uses to bring labourers to Niger - it is the priority of our mission. Each day, the team gather to pray about the neighbourhood, reset their focus on Him and ask for His eternal vision.

 

RELATIONSHIPS BUILT IN A NEEDY LAND

God burdened Nate and Johnson (national worker) to settle in the Kwara Tagi region of Niamey, a village on the outskirts of the capital, an area with little gospel presence and highly populated with young people. The most recent estimates record one believer for every 425 Nigeriens. The total is an estimated 40,000 followers, in a nation with a land area five times the size of the UK. Coupled with the world's highest birth rate, more than seven babies per woman, this is a strategic land of opportunities and challenges.

 

The work of the Holy Spirit is evident and God is working mightily. Our priority is building deep relationships - with the barber and the butcher, the imam and the shepherd, the educator and the electrician - so that we can clearly communicate the gospel in Kwara Tagi. How privileged we are to share the words of eternal life with many who have never heard the gospel or met a true follower of Christ, with those who have been blinded by a works-based religion and are among the poorest on our planet.

 

CHILDREN BELIEVE DESPITE OPPOSITION

One of our first burdens was to minister to local children. A few months after moving into the neighbourhood, we started a Saturday morning Kids' Club in Johnson, Jonathan and Justin's courtyard. Children, who were mostly, if not all, from Muslim families, began to flock to the weekly celebration of this One named Jesus who loves them. As the numbers began to increase, the enemy took notice.

 

An older man then began to threaten the children with beatings if they came to Kids' Club. One child told Johnson, "Even if they threaten to kill me, I'm coming." On multiple occasions, children have been pulled out of the club and physically beaten in front of us for listening to stories about Jesus. When these attempts failed, the local mosque started a Qur'anic school at the same time. A shop owner, working near the Kids' Club, warned children to beware of Christian 'magic', saying to them, "Watch out that they don't deceive you with their generosity and kindness to win you over." He has even tried to malign our testimonies by making up lies. Interestingly, we don't give handouts at the Kids' Club and the numbers have grown so much that even games don't take place. The children come simply to be loved and hear about Jesus. The threats continue but more children than ever attend.

 

Children are believing in the One sent from Heaven. In late 2014 we taught them the entire message of the Scriptures chronologically, using the book King of Glory. Each time we pointed them to a coming solution but left them in suspense. When we finally arrived at the good news of Christ, the children were ready. One day, after sharing about Christ's works and ultimately His work on the cross, Nate asked the children, "So who is Jesus really?" One child, standing in the middle of her family, friends and neighbours boldly said, "He is the Son of God!" Pray for these children who believe and for us as we seek to walk alongside them in their journey with Christ.

 

A local Islamic teacher noted, "You have so much patience...I always see my son throwing rocks at your gate, and I am surprised to see that you still let him come into your house...You are really doing what Jesus asked you to do." God can use whatever vessel He wants to bring encouragement. This same man went on to tell Justin, "What you Christians don't know is that there are many who believe your message but they are just too afraid to say it...What you are doing with the children at your house is very good for them because they need to know that Islam is not the only religion in the world." Recently, this leader of the mosque declared, "Anyone who doesn't want to believe in Jesus is anyone who doesn't want to believe the truth." Pray that fear would be removed from people's hearts and that Christ would be boldly embraced.

 

DIFFERENT PEOPLE, DIFFERENT NEEDS

Others are also coming to faith in Jesus, such as Yacouba, a 20-year-old tailor. As the firstborn in his family, he is the financial provider and a friend of many in Kwara Tagi. Yacouba believed in Christ and was baptised recently. He faces persecution daily but is bold in his witness; he has led one child to Christ and even shares the gospel with chiefs in neighbouring villages. Others are following in his footsteps; in December the local assembly was planted and meets each Sunday to break bread.

 

THE ENEMY PLANTS FEAR

Many Nigeriens live in villages, and more than 75% are completely untouched by the gospel. For a couple of months, we made weekly visits to a nearby village and shared the gospel with local residents. We thought we had a good relationship with them. However, one day, while talking to a widow about Jesus, we were met by an angry group of men and boys, some carrying shovels. One of the men engaged in a heated conversation with one of our local friends, telling him we had no right to be there and ordering us all to leave. Although we had entered the village correctly and were well known, we complied with their request. Something had drastically changed in their hearts - the enemy had planted fear. Recently we were able to visit this village again. They now have a new chief and we are praying that God will once again open the door for the gospel. There are many other surrounding villages and we aim to establish a long-term gospel witness in each, particularly through children's ministry.

 

We look forward to God's work in Niger. What a privilege to be co-workers in the gospel with many people who pray, give and physically join this ministry. Pray that local churches around the world would rise up in prayer for Niger.

 

Original version was first printed in CMML Missions magazine, April 2014. Updated for Echoes, March 2015.



©Copyright 2017 Echoes.org.uk. All Rights Reserved. webdesign and hosting by dotretailer.