“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.”
- John 6:47-50
Along the banks of the Niger River, fields of millet struggle against the heat and the hard earth. The Songhai/Zarma people spend the majority of the season striving to cultivate these fields, praying fervently for rain that is so essential to their livelihood. From village to village, the Songhai welcomed us into their communities and homes, a reflection of the proud and hospitable culture they have maintained through their rich history. However, one theme remained constant within our conversations: prayers for rain.
While not ignoring the physical needs in Niger, God is tugging on the hearts of His children among the Songhai people. He is truly sending His rain and preparing the way for a great harvest of believers. God reveals His sovereignty in all things. In every interaction, He proved that He was making a way that we could not understand or pride ourselves in, demonstrating at every turn that His sheep hear His voice. He worked every situation for His good, opening up encounters, conversations, and situations in a big way. Individuals were seeking us out with a true and genuine thirst for the redemptive story of Christ.
Throughout villages along the roads to Gaya and Tera, we saw the gospel story told to many people who had never before heard the name of Jesus Christ. Some of those who heard believed, and many others were left with a calling towards further understanding of the message. In almost every village we encountered, people encouraged us to persevere, to not grow tired in our sharing and to return to explain the significance of Christ’s sacrifice. At other times, we were met with a degree of adversity among the Islamic leadership within the villages, but God consistently opened up avenues for conversation and deeper relationships in spite of this.
God is moving among the Songhai people, and this past week of sharing with those who do not believe and discipling those eager new Christians who do is a testament to this. He is speaking to His children within Niger, revealing their sin and, most importantly, their need for a savior. As the week ended, we were able to see the fruit of His labor with a recap of villages who had not heard who had been reached, believers who were established within villages once unreached, and the constant effort of pulling local believers together to form church bodies within villages. However, there is still a deep need for obedience among international and local believers to spread their faith and answer Christ’s call for the church, which alone has the power to change communities. And just as the millet fields continue to rise, pray that God continues to send his rain among hearts of the women and men of the Songhai people.
- Ben H, Living Hope Baptist Church, Bowling Green, KY