Senegal (MNN) – Inter-Senegal Mission, a partner of Partners
International, is working in a 95% Muslim context. However, it is unique since it is not an
Islamic state, and there is openness to church planting.
Director of ISM, Jose Oliveira, says they are working in the
rural areas using a holistic approach. In six years this approach "has led us to see the birth of 24
communities of believers in the villages in which we work."
In the past, evangelism in Senegal was more traditional but
not effective. Oliveira says, "I'm sure
that you have heard the quote, ‘People don't care how much we know until they
know we care,' and in the past, the approach was mainly to give words, or our
theology, and that doesn't really attract them. But when they see that we
care, little by little they open up."
The success of a holistic approach is that, "bottom line,
people eventually see that you're not there to change their religion
from Islam to Christianity," Oliveira explained.
As ISM seeks to gain credibility and trust in villages, the
probability of building a believing community is more likely. "When they start asking questions on their
own, the person who eventually makes a decision is better accepted by the rest
of the community to see that the church who has caused all the transformation
in the community is actually a great
benefit and actually becomes a vital part of the community,"
For the future, ISM
has already targeted two ethnic groups. "The goal is to create a movement and our need basically
is more workers in these villages." They
especially need trained local workers who can be supported until the church can
support them itself.
ISM has a long list
of programs including women's ministry, food and medical aid, micro-loans, and
work with children.