West Africa (MNN) — Western and Central Africa has seen its fair share of violence and bloodshed, and it continues to be an unstable region. The country of Mali, for instance, is still trying to eradicate Al-Qaeda linked terrorists from the northern region five years after they invaded Northern Mali. Several local news outlets reported that on Tuesday, Mali officials had finally installed an interim authority in Northern Mali.
The Associated Press said last month that this UN peacekeeping mission is the deadliest in the world.
We spoke to Abdoulaye Sangho, Director of West and Central Africa with Trans World Radio. Mali is Sangho’s native country. He says, “During that time, all the Christians [were] chased out of the place. They became refugees in the south of Mali — some in Niger, in Burkina Faso, even in Cote d’Ivoire where there’s still some people there.”
He recalls the initial event — extremists from Libya and Algeria invaded Mali and tried to establish Sharia law among the moderate Muslims who lived there. Sangho says churches, Bible schools, and mission houses were looted and sacked.
But Mali is not unique in its level of instability. Other countries in this region have been the victims of civil wars, and conflict between ethnic and religious groups. One thing held in common by many of these countries is the lack of stable leadership.
The environment brings a list of challenges for ministries like TWR.
“Islam is one challenge of the Church in West Africa, and also…evangelism of unreached people groups. Children ministry is also a challenge because most of the children are also from Muslim families and people [don’t] give freedom to the children to go to church or to even have contact with Christians or missionaries.”
A Transformational Gospel
But as Sangho knows, the message of Jesus must be shared, no matter what. Sangho grew up in a Muslim family and was prevented from going to churches. But, God broke through anyway. That, he says with a chuckle, is a long story.
Abdoulaye, he explains, means “servant of Allah”. And yet, he has given his life to serve Jesus alongside TWR.
The ministry partners with local churches to support and encourage them, and in turn, be resourced with sermons. And, TWR is also working to reach the unreached.
He says, “Many of our programs focus on non-Christians. Many of our programs. We focus some programs to Muslims. We produce ‘The Way of Righteousness’. It’s a focus Muslim program and we’ve translated it into many West African languages.”
Sangho says the message has been well received in these countries. He shares one touching example about the time he was visited by an old man in his office. The man came to him because Sangho has a Muslim name. The man told him he was an imam and that he listened to TWR every night in the mosque. He told Sangho that it was the Word of God.
“So that was awesome to see that not only in families, but even in a mosque an imam can listen to the Word of God.”
TWR is working on another program for Muslims all over the world.
But there are some regions and countries where the radio can’t go. Open mission work isn’t allowed, so radio stations cannot exist in these locations. Therefore, TWR also distributes the Gospel message and programs through SD cards and flash players.
If you’d like to help, Sangho says, “What we need first is prayer. Because we are in a battle…for the hearts of people in our area, in our region — a Muslim area — because that is the main challenge for us. First, we need prayer. It is a spiritual fight. And second, if people can adopt a people group, pray for them and support also programs, messages we are distributing to these people, that would be great.”
To learn more about TWR Africa, click here.