In the beginning of February, I had the privilege of visiting the beautiful, diverse continent of Africa for 10 days. Since part of my job description with ABT includes being the Field Director for our African work, I was commissioned by the board to take in a conference in East Africa and then following that to do a field visit with an ABT team in West Africa.
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia—East Africa:
Another ABT member and I were in Addis for a 3-day meeting called the Sahel Conference. Sahel means "Coast or Shore" in Arabic and is depicting the area where the grasslands from the south meet the sands of the Sahara from the north. This area stretches the whole way across Africa and is home to hundreds of Muslim unreached people groups with 132 of these groups having NO access to scripture in their heart language. The goal of this conference was for networking—bringing together indigenous church leaders (that was half the group!), church planting, BT, humanitarian, and media ministries with the belief that raising awareness of the tremendous needs in this area will stir up the Church to get involved in this difficult region.
It was an enlightening and challenging experience to be with this group. Finding out about the huge lack of Scripture access in the heart language, hearing about the need for more humanitarian workers in this desolate part of the world and sitting next to Muslim background believers while listening to their stirring life stories of how they came to be followers of Jesus was touching. The suffering that these brothers have experienced is beyond what I can imagine, yet they have an inspiring joy and hope and a determined purpose to personally be part of reaching their own people.
The ABT member who was with me is planning to go to a country in the center of the Sahel to be part of a Bible translation project and the ABT team that I visited after this conference in northern Benin is in this region as well. There are many tribes that are waiting, that do not have any church, ministry or Christian worker who is even considering them. Would you consider making this region your prayer focus for a time? Pray that God will send out laborers into this harvest field. I have some resources below for specific prayer.
Note: for security purposes I will not be naming the specific location or the names of the two ABT couples that are working in Benin. I will be using the code name “Weno Project” (Weno means “Now is the time”) or “Weno People” referring to the Muslim people group that is the recipient of this Bible Translation and Church planting endeavor.
I was blessed to have my wife Lynelle join me towards the end of the conference in Addis Ababa and she was my traveling companion for the rest of the trip.
Going from horn of Africa to the country of Benin, one of the world’s 20 least developed nations, proved to be very stimulating. The Ethiopians pride themselves in their quiet streets (you rarely hear a horn) and there a very few motorbikes; whereas, in the bustling port city of Cotonou, where we flew in, the streets are packed with vehicles whose drivers seem rather heavy-footed and heavy-handed, creating a medley of roars and horns and it seemed like 90% of the travel was motorbikes! I was thankful to be riding and not driving!
After the warm welcome, a delicious supper, and a good night of rest we headed north with a couple from the team. Our 8-hour journey took us through beautiful countryside, speed bump ridden towns and by many unusual sights for my American grown eyes. I discovered our driver was an absolute pro at missing potholes on the road (many of these potholes seemed to holding hands!) and navigating around under-speed and overloaded semi-trucks. At dusk we arrive at safely our destination—a dusty city of several hundred thousand people.
It was a joy to spend the next several days with the team. Life has settled into a routine for them. Daily the 2 couples meet with their Weno language teacher and slowly they are moving towards mastering the language. Afternoons are filled with homeschooling, market, and the beginnings of using one team member’s gift—vehicle engine diagnostics as a "vehicle" for relationship among the many Weno mechanics. The team’s motto of, “It will be our love, not our opinions, which will make our largest contribution to the world” is going a long way there. I got to observe the interaction one hot afternoon as we went from “shop” (a dusty parking lot most times) to shop listening to and assisting in diagnosing issue that the mechanics hope to someday be able to diagnose themselves. Someday in the future they will be able to begin to translate the written Word but for now they are exemplifying the Living Word to these dear people.
Seeing their commitment to make this their home for the long haul, in a part of the world that is so radically different than state-side living, was a challenge to me. And their joyful acceptance of this, even after several of them having just been through a bad bout malaria and boils, was inspiring to say the least. In response to my question, “Why have you chosen to come here to this difficult place?” one of them responded, “I read the last Book and it says that there will be people from every tribe worshipping around the throne and that is what brought us here to the unreached Weno People. That is what drove us here and that is what keeps us going from day to day—that someday we can know there will be many Weno People worshipping around the throne.” It is through Spirit driven brothers and sisters like this that the gates of hell are being shaken and the Kingdom is advancing in many hard to reach places today. Please keep this team in your prayer as there is no doubt that they are on the frontlines.
In my Bible reading while there, I read the following verses: “All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord. All the families of the nations will bow down before you, for Kingship belongs to the Lord; He rules the nations” (Psalms 22: 27-28). May this become a reality here where there is NO ONE that does not daily hear the Muslim prayer call, and where MANY live in the shadow of the city’s hundreds of mosques.
Intercession points for the Weno People and Team:
- Pray for their children
- Pray for their wives that they could develop meaningful relationships with other Weno women
- Pray for physical health
- Pray for Truth seeking Weno hearts
- Pray for clear minds to learn the Weno language
- Pray for a hedge of protection around the budding relationships with Weno
- Pray for favor with city officials
- Pray for a vibrant Church among the Weno people
- Here is a resource to further guide your prayers = http://prayercast.com/benin.html
Yours for our King,
Bryant J. Martin
- You can view a small gallery of my pictures from Ethiopia here - https://photos.app.goo.gl/TbI3014uYjs8LclG2
- You can view a small gallery of my pictures from Benin here - https://photos.app.goo.gl/QlWJaK3vYrdpdk0u2
- Here are 3 other Countries in the Sahel that are in need of sustained prayer for the few native Christians and expatriate laborers that are there, and that God would raise up more laborers to engage their great needs:
- Niger = http://prayercast.com/niger.html
- Chad = http://prayercast.com/chad.html
- Sudan = http://prayercast.com/sudan.html
- A helpful article dispelling some of the misconceptions of Africa - http://gilandamy.blogspot.com/2017/02/10-myths-about-africa-many-america...