Making Jesus known through social media in West Africa

Thursday, 14 March 2024 Making Jesus known through social media in West Africa

In 2020, 51%* of the world’s population had access to the internet. In global missions, social media is increasingly being utilised to reach least reached communities by sharing the Gospel in their local language and through contextualised content. Ministries then follow up with those who engage with the content, connecting them with local churches for face-to-face follow-up and discipleship. 

In West Africa and Central Africa, 30% of the population have internet access. Bethany, a SIM Australia mission worker, has been serving in West Africa since April 2017. In 2022, she oversaw the launch of a social media ministry, aiming to use content posted in the local language to share the Gospel with those who have never heard it before. The strategy identifies individuals ready to learn about Jesus and connects them with local trained church planters. 

Bethany explained, “This strategy grew out of a desire to see our existing audio resources more widely used. Our heart is to make the Gospel available to people in every town and village of our region. Although we are currently covering only a small part of that area, we are excited by the initial results. Some of the statistics have been mind-blowing – especially with over 7,000 people listening to the testimony of someone who has left the majority religion to follow Jesus.” 

Bethany serves in the ministry alongside Daniel, a local team member. She admitted that it was a steep learning curve for the duo, but they were grateful to receive training and support to set up the website, Facebook page, and behind-the-scenes elements like the prayer team. While Bethany handles content and technical setup, Daniel focuses on translation and filtering the messages they receive to identify those who are ready for face-to-face interactions. 

“About 30% of people in our area have internet access, and it is often irregular,” said Bethany. “Even so, nearly 600 people have messaged us in the last 6 months. We are in regular contact with one young woman and a handful of young men. Simon^ enjoys the audio recordings with Gospel teaching. Each time he has internet credit, we receive a message saying he wants another episode!” 

Their posts typically include a three-minute video featuring a Bible passage and a reflection or challenge. “On an average week, approximately 800 people watch the video to the end. Some weeks, the video truly captures people’s attention, and around 2500 people view it,” said Bethany. Last year, they focused on a series about the statements Jesus made about himself. “The story of Lazarus (where Jesus is the resurrection and the life) and the Samaritan woman (where Jesus is the source of living water) have been particularly popular,” she added. “Whether 800 or 2500 people watch to the end, it represents individuals engaging with the truth about Jesus in ways that weren’t available a year ago.” 

The team is also pleased to witness local believers being encouraged to use the resources SIM has produced to reach their neighbours. Bethany explained, “Local believers from other language groups have also embraced part of the vision – sharing existing audio materials more widely with friends from the majority religion. There is so much room for expansion and improvement in our efforts.”  

PRAY: Pray for the team as they post a series during Ramadan. Pray that many people who don’t know Jesus from this language group would hear the Gospel for the first time.   

*World Bank, 2021 

^Name changed to protect identity  

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