“Mosques are everywhere and sleep after 4 or 5am is impossible. It sounds like mosques compete with one another in their calls to prayer. That part of the world is also plagued by extremists and attacks on other tribes (also Muslims) and the kidnapping of westerners are common. I was advised not to walk around in the Capital city of Niamey on my own and did not leave my hotel premises at all. Basically, all missionaries are based in the capital city and are usually very cautious. Government soldiers are deployed at checkpoints all over the city, around the clock.”
This is the visual depicted by National Director, Dr Jurie Vermeulen upon his return from his visit to Niger in October. Niger, similarly, to Mali and Chad are very dark places spiritually and politically, home to clusters of unreached people groups and a hub for extremist activity. Sadly, the gospel has made little headway in the nation.
Niger is a predominantly Muslim nation, with 99.3% adherents to the faith. Niger is bordered by Libya, Chad, Nigeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Algeria. Niger is poor and under-developed. According to the United Nations’ Human Development Index (HDI) reports from 2018 and 2019, the country ranked 189th out of 189 countries. In addition to French, 10 other unofficial languages are also spoken in Niger, among them are Hausa, Zarma-Songhai, Fulfulde, Gourmanchéma, Tamasheq, Tassawaq and Tebu.
There is a great need for the gospel in Niger and we have an incredible opportunity to establish a new station in the heart of the nation. Although evangelism began in 1923 by American missionaries, there are only about 0.4% Christians in the country representing around 50 000 – 100,000 individuals. This came as a shock to us, and hardly seems realistic for a country that has been evangelized for nearly a century. According to some, there are several reasons for the lack of progress that can be mainly attributed to the influence of western missionaries who by dividing churches along denominational lines caused divisions among local churches; the lack of focusing on training ethnic leaders; failure to evangelize from an Islamic point-of-view; and a lack of vision for reaching Muslims.
There is an open door for us to reach a potential listening audience of 22 million unreached people in Niger. Currently there is only one active Christian radio station in the country, however it is underfunded, and most of its staff members and volunteers are not Christians. Through the help of the Holy Spirit, our National Director connected with a local, spirit-filled believer who travels frequently around Niger. The more we are able to evangelize into Northern Africa, the quicker we can eradicate Jihadist extremism from spreading any further and introduce a suffering people to the healing presence of the Prince of Peace.