By Jesse Lyautey
WEST AFRICA–During the 2006 Week of Prayer, Dec. 3-10, the International Mission Board focused on West Africa missionaries. These missionaries saw God at work in specific ways that week through the prayers of Southern Baptists.
Brad and Sally, Songhai
Two volunteer teams handed out more than 2,000 Bible storying cassettes to the Songhai people during the Week of Prayer. One group went to Timbuktu, an area known for its Islamic strongholds.
"Many doors were opened in Timbuktu for prayer and the team was even able to share with the leading imam's family about (the teams) faith in Christ," said Brad, Songhai people group team leader. Imams are Muslim religious leaders in West Africa.
The other group, a partnering church with the missionary team that works among the Songhai, visited their area of work and baptized a new believer and spent time in disciple ship with a small group of core believers.
"It was not coincidence that Southern Baptists were praying for the Songhai as we took [volunteer] teams out into the battle…to witness at the two ends of the Songhai Kingdom," Brad said.
Scott and Julie, Fulakunda
Scott, Julie and their three children were in the United States on stateside assignment during the Week of Prayer, but God was at work with the Fulakunda people. Before leaving for America Scott and Julie challenged the core group of 10 believers they had discipled to share the story of Jesus with friends and family members.
They received an e-mail while in the states telling them the number of believers grew from 1 to 50 and the 14 original outreach groups started eight more outreach groups.
Mike and Jennie, Fulani
Before the Week of Prayer in 2006, Mike and Jennie, with their four girls moved to work in a new country in West Africa.
"God made it clear that we were to move here, so we did," they said. "Only He could have orchestrated it so that our time here would begin with an outpouring of prayer support."
Many people come to them daily to ask questions and Mike has many opportunities to share Christ with their new neighbors.
Tom and Shirley, Futo Toro
A volunteer team of women over the age of 50 came to spent time with Debbie, Tom's teammate, and the Futo Toro people. The same women have returned three times in the last three years.
Tom appreciates their willingness to return time after time. He realizes that sometimes one visit isn't enough to make the relationships necessary the Futo Toro need to really receive the message of Christ.
The volunteer team ministered to women of their own age. They even shared with an elder Islamic teacher and younger women.
"God's Spirit is moving in hearts and we are finding those who are seeking the truth and we keep going back to them sharing more of the truth," Tom said. "But we're also seeing some persecution with those who have decided to follow Christ. Two women were quickly married off to Muslim husbands who can keep them from associating with other believers."
The Week of Prayer also focused on an unengaged people group, the Western Karaboro. David and Tami, researchers in central West Africa, asked a church from America to come and share Christ with this people group.
During one visit, one chief denied Compassion Church, of Raleigh, North Carolina, access to work in his village.
"He (later) told us we could work with his people but that he would not allow us to talk about Jesus things; everybody was Muslim and happy with their own religion and the spirits would not be happy if we were to teach the people something else," said David Wood.
But, they returned with believers from another ethnic group who helped the American church communicated with the Western Karaboro chief.
He finally granted permission for the church to share the Jesus film to his villagers. Though the team experienced bad roads and many technical problems they are not letting these stop them from sharing Christ.
Local believers continue to share the gospel with the Western Karaboro and four people came to believe in Christ.
"This has definitely got to be God answering the prayers of many people for this people group," David said.
God worked in the lives of these West Africa missionaries and the people groups they work with because of prayer."Prayer surely opened doors," Brad said.