Outreach by Prayerful Dependence

Monday, 16 May 2022 Outreach by Prayerful Dependence  In 1893, the founders of SIM, Bingham, Gowans and Kent, landed in Lagos, Nigeria. They had a bold vision to establish a Christian witness amongst the 60 million unreached people living in what was then known as the Soudan in sub-Saharan Africa. Established mission organisations told them at the time that it was impossible, but the young men were undeterred. 

Within a year, both Gowans and Kent had passed away. Although Bingham was sick in Lagos, he recovered, returned to Canada, and recruited a new team of courageous Christians who eventually achieved his vision. His passion and conviction inspired others to finish what he started. Since then, that first team has grown into a global mission organisation with over 4000 workers in 70 countries. Today in West Africa, Martin and Lid, faithfully outwork that same heart to be prayerfully dependent on God and be a bold witness to those who have never heard the Gospel. 

Serving in West Africa 

Martin and Lid met and married each other while serving in urban ministry with SIM in Ethiopia. In 2015, the couple moved to a country in West Africa where Lid started coordinating the entity’s prayer ministry while Martin joined outreach ministry. 

Martin grew up as a minister’s kid and was exposed to visiting mission workers throughout his childhood. Often his family would host them for a meal after the church service. Martin enjoyed asking the mission workers questions and hearing about how God was using them. From a young age, he felt God calling him into missions and studied agricultural science at university, hoping to use these skills in his cross-cultural service. Although he didn’t end up using his degree, God used him in other ways.  

Lid grew up in a Christian home and although a friend of her parents felt that God was calling Lid to missions, the thought didn’t enter her mind until university. Lid went on a short-term trip to Mexico during her degree, where she was studying both the Bible and social work. After two other short-term trips to other countries, she then decided to join SIM so she could serve on the field long-term.  

In West Africa, Lid wasn’t planning on being involved in full-time ministry so she could look after their children. However, her plans changed after a conversation with a friend. She recalled, “As I shared with one of our fellow mission workers about my heart for prayer, she said they need someone like that to fill a role for someone about to go on maternity leave. This began with helping with coordinating monthly prayer calendars, where I have the privilege to read the prayer letters by our mission workers and pull from these to write the prayer notes.”    

As the team moved into communities that were primarily populated with those following the majority religion, Lid was reminded of the importance of depending on the Lord in prayer. She explained, “I really felt God saying we can’t operate without coming together as a field to pray. And so monthly prayer days were born, where our field comes together around songs, God’s Word and testimonies; presenting our praises and requests before the Lord.” Lid also organises times of prayer and fasting for the team, helps initiate annual prayer themes, and helps facilitate prayer nights. 

After moving to West Africa, Martin was involved in outreach ministry. Answering God’s unexpected call, the family moved to a city in the north of the country. Since then, Martin has been re-establishing an outreach and discipleship ministry for people of the dominant faith and nominal Christians. Some of the people from the majority religion are referred by local churches and others find the ministry on their own. 

Martin explained, “If they haven’t done so already, we encourage them to come to Christ. Then we encourage them in their faith. In many cases, we refer them to discipleship centres in another city so that they can become truly grounded in their faith. Once they finish their courses, we journey with them to see what the Lord has in store for them.”   

The team also does outreach to the brothels within the city where they live. Martin shared, “Many are, unfortunately, in the Christian quarters of the city, and most of the ladies are from a Christian background. We often find ourselves encouraging them that God loves them and also reminding them that what they are doing is something that is not pleasing to God.”  

The team also travels to villages for outreach and mostly focuses on visiting communities where there is a local mission worker or pastor, so there can be effective follow-up. Martin shared, “It is in this ministry we see the greatest number of people make decisions for Jesus.”   

Although there is much fruitfulness, the team often faces various challenges. Lid shared, “There have also been a few village outreaches where many obstacles seemed to stand in the way, but God saw them through. In these places, once the team finally arrived, God worked in many hearts, bringing souls into the Kingdom.”   

Outreach to the villages  

Last year, Martin and team member, Jacob*, led a group of volunteers on outreach to a village in a neighbouring state. Jacob had visited the village previously and found that although there was only one Christian family in the community, those from the majority religion were open to hearing the Gospel. The team decided to go together to share the Good News and plant some seeds.   

The outreach trip was postponed twice. When the rains increased, Jacob thought they might have to wait until the dry season to go, but they decided to brave the weather and leave. On the way to the village, one vehicle broke down and they navigated potholes, mud and the darkness to get to their location. They finally arrived at the village at 8pm.   

The team played two movies, one story about a person from the dominant tribe who came to Christ and also a Hausa version of Pilgrim’s Progress. The next day, they played Christian music over a loudspeaker and the local people, mostly women and children, danced along with the outreach team. They also held a medical outreach which many from the village visited. The Gospel was shared and praise God, 89 people made a decision to follow Jesus! 

While they were in the village, the team planned how they might disciple these new believers as well as the pre-existing Christian family as there was no church there. Praise God that a partner church relocated a trained mission worker to the village and He faithfully orchestrated all these things together. The Lord helped the team persevere by going to this village when they could have been so easily discouraged from doing so.   
GO: Do you have a heart to serve among least reached communities? Get in touch with a Mission Mobiliser today by visiting sim.org.au/talktous.  

*Name changed to protect identity 
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