Niger Mission Network learns about holistic evangelism through health and education
May 8, 2019
A delegation representing the Niger Mission Network (NMN) saw beautiful feet in Niger — many of them — during a recent 13-day partnership trip hosted by the Evangelical Church in the Republic of Niger (EERN). Participants learned some of the ways the good news of Jesus is proclaimed by Christian brothers and sisters in a country where the majority of its citizens are Muslim.
A pastor, who is a member of the EERN Board and makes his living as a teacher of English teachers, humbly serves his family, congregation and village. Like many of the leaders, he converted from Islam and is the only Christian among his siblings. He has paid for the education of many of the children of his Muslim siblings. Some of these nieces and nephews who lived with his family while going to school have become Christians. One is a pastor.
The mission network group learned that this leader also has given land and contributed to build a church, a pastor’s home and a student hosting center in his village, because, as he said, “There are only three Christians from my village, and we must share the good news.”
The analogy of beautiful feet was first used to describe those who carried the good news from Babylon to Jerusalem, proclaiming the end of captivity and the return of the Jewish people from exile. The apostle Paul revived this image of beautiful feet, as he described how the gospel must go forward so that all may hear it and believe. There must be messengers, those with beautiful feet, for the ultimate good news of Jesus to go to all people.
In one small village, the EERN drilled a well and gave it to the Muslim community. New wells and sources of clean water are half of the Water, Sanitation and Health program facilitated by mission co-worker Jim McGill. The other half of the program focuses on latrines and sanitation practices.
Often Nigerien children stop their education after primary school, because the middle and high schools are located in larger towns that may be 6–8 miles away from their villages. This situation has created a need to find homes in the towns where students can stay during the week while they are in school.
The EERN has launched an effort to build student hosting centers at evangelists’ homes in the larger towns, which can provide housing for 20–30 students. NMN members toured three recently constructed centers and two others being renovated.
The former treasurer of the EERN showed the NMN group his goats. He told them about a project to provide goats to Christian families in his village. He explained that the goats would help them generate income and break some of the bonds of poverty. The expectation was that each family would give the first offspring to another Christian family. God prospered this effort and inspired the church families to also give goats to their Muslim neighbors, bringing the light of Jesus into the darkness of subsistence living.
In order to have a Christian witness in every significant town in the country, the NMN team was inspired by the vision of the EERN to start 52 new churches by 2022. When they established the goal three years ago, there were only 22 towns with churches. As of today, evangelists have been sent to 19 new places.
NMN members learned that evangelism is far more than sending evangelists. It is everything the EERN leaders and members do. They live a missionary lifestyle in which bringing the good news of Jesus permeates every project, program and personal interaction with their Muslim neighbors. How beautiful are their feet!
The Evangelical Church in the Republic of Niger is the largest Protestant denomination in Niger with about 12,000 members. World Mission has partnered with the EERN in a ministry of mutual learning and holistic witness for nearly two decades.
The Rev. Dr. Donald J. Dawson, Co-Convener for the Niger Mission Network and Retired Director of World Mission Initiative at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and the New Wilmington Mission Conference
Today’s Focus: Niger Mission Network
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray:
God of life, we pray for our brothers and sisters as you lead them in paths of justice, peace and dignity. Anoint them with your Spirit as they work for your sons and daughters. Amen.