While it isn’t difficult to find a church in Niamey, the capital city of Niger, it can be much harder in more remote areas of the country. Less than an hour and a half north of Niamey is the village of Ouallam, and another two hours north is the commune of Banibangou, where we find the only church north of Ouallam.
I went with some other Samaritan’s Purse staff members to visit the Samaritan’s Purse evangelist for the area, who is also the pastor of the church. Though he was traveling the day we visited, his wife greeted us all with hugs and joyful smiles and invited us to sit down to plates piled high with rice and meat.
Between her involvement with the church and the knowledge of the Samaritan’s Purse program manager, I was able to hear the history of the remarkable church. It began fewer than two years ago in the home of the evangelist working with Samaritan’s Purse, and, since then, 11 people have come to Christ. Now, there are 20 adults and 20 children who meet in the evangelist’s home on Sunday mornings for worship and teaching.
Though the church members used to have a hangar church—an open-sided frame with a roof —in the evangelist’s yard, it was falling apart and wasn’t sufficient for the size of the growing church. Last December, Samaritan’s Purse was able to provide funds to purchase supplies for a new hangar church. Rather than forcing the Christians to meet in the failing structure, the new hangar will give them shade and a place to join together as believers.
The evangelist’s wife took us to her home to see the building supplies laid out on the ground—metal frames, cement bags, paint cans, and even thatching for the roof. It won’t be long before the church can worship in the shade of their own hangar.
As we spoke with the evangelist’s wife, she mentioned that she leads a children’s program every Thursday. Curious, I asked her more about it. She described how almost 100 children aged 9 to 14 come every week, and they worship together, tell stories about Jesus, and learn Bible verses. Even their parents come sometimes to hear the programs. The evangelist’s wife beamed as she describes the children’s meetings.
“The children almost lead the program themselves,” she said proudly.
Alongside her husband’s work as pastor and evangelist, the evangelist’s wife has seen an opportunity to reach the community and seized it with enthusiasm. She’s been able to reach the children and even their parents, impacting the next generation in her village for Christ. I was impressed by her commitment to the program.
This is what it truly means to be an evangelist—to reach whomever you can, however you can and to take the Word of God however you’re able while showing the love of God. It’s a calling that all Christians have received and that God has equipped all Christians to fulfill.
Between the work of the evangelist in his village, the efforts of his wife in reaching the children, and the determination of the church to go boldly in faith despite the severe lack of neighboring spiritual communities, the Gospel of Christ is taking root in the department of Ouallam. With time, we hope and pray that it will grow and flourish in all villages of Niger.