Hama Yaye, who leads our team in Niger, provides Scriptures to the women who attended Bible Society literacy classes.

God’s seeds sown in Niger need special care

Hama Yaye, who leads our team in Niger, gives an extraordinary eyewitness account of the Bible mission that Bible Society supporters are making possible in one of Africa’s toughest places.

The Bible offers hope in all circumstances. My name is Hama and I’ve been the General Secretary at Bible Society in Niger for four years. In that time we’ve endured the coronavirus pandemic, deadly floods, and the constant threat of Islamic terrorism. Despite some economic growth, our country remains one of the poorest in the world.

But Peter’s words comfort me: ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.’ John 6.68– 69 (ESV).

We are hopeful and positive about our ministry, and are so grateful for your prayerful support through Bible Society. 

The majority of people here are Muslim (about 98 per cent) but Christians are usually highly respected. We stand out for our integrity of character and honesty. I remember a time when my village had entrusted various pots of communal money to a local leader. This money was for the school, the well and other village activities. But the leader stole from the pot. I was called upon to take over, because I was trusted as a Christian.

Another time, I was going to church with a Bible strapped to the back of my motorbike. Some guards stopped me and asked for my papers but then saw the Bible and let me through because they knew I could be trusted. That was a real answer to prayer, because it turned out I had actually forgotten to bring my ID documents with me!

Walking carefully

However, it can be difficult to be a Christian in Niger. The government is, strictly speaking, secular but will randomly crack down on us. One year, a government official announced that Christmas was cancelled. And the authorities could easily stop our Bible Society projects if they felt we were being too bold in our outreach, or if our activities were not considered ‘useful’ to society.

One of the greatest needs for the Church here is deeper Bible engagement and knowledge of Scripture. Many of the first missionaries who came to Niger in the 1920s and 30s primarily focused on material poverty and misery. It drew people into the churches – but for the wrong reasons. It led to ‘surface’ Christianity, with no depth.

I want the Church to show a real hunger and thirst for God’s word. The Bible should be guiding people’s lives! We want to see spiritual growth and we long for every believer to own a Bible and read it daily. 

Lack of theological training

A big barrier to Bible engagement is the low level of theological training among our church leaders. You can go to theological school with just a handful of very basic qualifications, lower than GCSEs in your country. But to study and teach the Bible you need skills! Some churches are so desperate for leaders, they put forward people for training just a year after they’ve come to faith. Anyone who shows a bit of enthusiasm can become a leader in a church. There is very little maturity in the Church.

So, thanks to the amazing generosity of Bible Society supporters, we plan to partner with theological schools to provide resources. We’re targeting the root cause of poor discipleship in churches by focusing on Sunday schools and family engagement. And we’re continuing to provide Bibles wherever they are needed. 

Floods … and relief

Last year, when a huge flood swept through Niger and stole people’s homes and lives, your kind giving provided God’s word and practical help to those in need. At the time, we were panicked by the number of the people affected and the area we needed to cover. But God in his grace sent us help from many people, such as yourself. 

Hundreds of families received food, relief and a Bible. In fact, the Church’s response was more consistent and uplifting than many other aid agencies – and people from Muslim backgrounds have started coming to church as a result. We are also training leaders in Bible-based trauma healing. We need God to heal our heart-wounds and help us recover from this disaster. 

I’m so grateful for the partnership and prayers of Bible Society supporters in England and Wales. I thank God that you don’t forget us, here in one of Africa’s toughest places. The Lord is faithful; God is good!

Hama’s story first appeared in the September/October edition of the Bible a Month prayer letter. If you would like to help Bible workers such as Hama and his team in Niger on a monthly basis then join Bible a Month. Or if you want to make a one-off donation to help Bible work in places like Niger please hit the blue button below.

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