Fifty years ago, a missionary shared the gospel with a cattle herder. This man was a Kel Geres who are the slave class to the Tamajaq of Niger.
The man became a Christian and returned to his village and told them about his new faith. No one want to listen to him. Eventually persecution and crime made him leave his village and move to Maradi.
Despite no further Christian witness, that no churches existed in the area even for other tribal groups, and that the Kel Geres were illiterate, the man maintained his faith.
Forty years later God called Ishaya, the man’s son to share the gospel and to partner with a SIM missionary, Gail.
Their vision was to plant churches among the Kel Geres Tamajaq, disciple them and train pastors for their churches, who in turn would share the gospel to other tribes and around the world. Their goal was to plant eight churches in four villages in eight years and for the church congregants to become literate.
Work began sharing the Jesus film, teaching literacy, and developing friendships.
Planting churches in four villages was not easy. People didn’t want them in their villages. As an introduction, a camp was proposed and three hundred Kel Geres Tamajaq came. Then land was purchased so there was a place to stay and space to build a church. This was ‘spirit land’ sold to them so the spirits would chase them away. When that didn’t work, villagers twice tried killing Ishaya twice and both experienced spiritual attacks.
Despite the opposition, sharing of the Jesus film continued, and literacy was taught to shepherds, women, and children. Ishaya farmed in the area and through this presence, relationships deepened.
After two years two became believers in the first village, who learned to read and write. They struggled as their families persecuted them. There were times when they were not sure if they wanted to continue to follow the Lord. The same resistance was faced in the second village.
Now there are 15 believers in three villages. Alas, there are no Tamajaq pastors but there are two Hausa pastors who are discipling believers while the evangelism continues in three other villages.
Only two believers can read the Bible with comprehension, but their children are learning to read... and there are more than 50 children coming to literacy programmes and learning who Jesus is.
God is working, persecution continues, our believers are not strong, but a church has been established.