Today, there are no known believers in the Kayes region of Mali, which is predominantly inhabited by Hassaniya herdsmen.
Living in this remote region on the edge of the Sahara, which until recently, was only accessible by unmade roads, are three major people groups: Moors (Hassaniya), Soninke, and Fulani.
The Hassaniya – named for the language they speak – are mostly Tijani Muslims. However, they are open to gospel workers coming and living amongst them.
Enter John*, Deborah* and their ten-month-old son, from Nigeria. John and Deborah, met while they were in university and married in 2017. They bonded over a shared enthusiasm for missions and trusted that God would eventually reveal to them his plan. That revelation came when SIM partners spoke at the couple’s church about Mali’s need for Christ.
“Going to Mali as part of our Faithful Witness scheme was absolutely God’s plan for this couple,” says Daniel Nunkop, SIM’s West African Mobilisation Office Director. “He is very, very passionate about reaching the lost. This is evident in the way John has cultivated a thriving student ministry at a local university in his home town. He’s also devoted himself to learning and recently earned his doctorate in theology.”
And when it comes to the couple as a team, Daniel says: “I see them as looking into the future of missions, not just the now. They have what it takes. I’m so excited about them because they are young and they are vibrant.”
The couple’s journey to Mali was beset by enormous challenges, but they remained faithful and arrived in Mali’s capital city Bamako in December 2019.
“We must confess it wasn’t an easy decision to make,” they admit. “But knowing that there are people dying without the opportunity of hearing about the salvation in Christ Jesus is enough reason for us. What good is a room with 100 lamps when another is in deep darkness?”
During their first visit, the couple and their Faithful Witness teammates received numerous requests, including help with reading and medical care. This made it very clear to the whole team that Kayes is a ﬁeld ‘ripe for harvest’ but in need of harvesters.
The couple have been in language school since January, but are currently unable to attend classes owing to Covid-19.
And despite the challenges to gospel work there – including insecurity, a harsh climate, isolation, and deeply held cultural beliefs – SIM Mali Director Joshua Ngunta remains optimistic: “We want to step into this land by faith.”
- There are opportunities to join the Mali Faithful Witness team in medicine, community health, teaching, adult literacy, rural development, engineering, sports, media, church planting, and anti-human trafficking. To find out more, please contact [email protected] to talk to our team.
- For peace and stability in Mali and for God’s protection of John and Deborah as they transition to their new ministry location among the Hassaniya people.
- For God’s Spirit to prepare the hearts of the Hassaniya to receive the gospel.
- For God to bring more workers to join the Mali Faithful Witness team.