“As we drove out of the airport, I remembered how very different waste management is in Africa, with people burning their rubbish on the side of the road or in their backyards! That burnt smell, however, made me feel at home and I was also struck by the familiar sights of mango trees, street food vendors sitting under parasols next to their beautifully piled-up fruit stalls, and baskets carefully balanced on top of people’s heads.“
SIM UK worker Anaïs lived in the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) for six months before moving to serve in Nigeria.
After a brief spell back in the UK for visa purposes, she returned in February to finish her ministry assignment in trauma healing.
“I hear many stories that are heart-breaking; others inspirational and humbling, but in each and everyone’s story, I try to see God at work,” she reveals.
Anaïs trains counsellors and caregivers, as well as supporting persecuted new believers, traumatised by fleeing their families and communities.
She recently met a man from the north of Nigeria, who became a Christian about 18 months ago. After being threatened with death by his own brothers, he was brought to a discipleship centre in Jos.
After a year, he prepared to leave and asked to see Anaïs for some encouragement, telling her: “I don’t know where the pastor will take me, I just know I can’t go back to my village or else I’ll be killed by my own family members. The only thing I know is that I won’t renounce my faith in Jesus.”
Anaïs recalls: “I stood in awe at this young man’s determination and told him that I was the one that was being encouraged!
“We prayed together, and his eyes sparkled with hope when I told him about how the church in the west is praying for persecuted Christians like him, and how happy I was that I can now tell his story to others, so that we continue faithfully praying for him.”
In a country prone to unrest, persecution and violent attacks, Anaïs admits that discouragement and doubts creep in, but people never lose heart.
“I hear of attacks happening here and there around the area,” she says, “and the people affected long for justice, but they don’t give up and continue going to their farms despite the dangers.
“I hear some of the stories from the people I work with in the prisons, who are waiting for over a year or more to appear in court and, again, I long for justice and for human rights to be respected. And so on and so forth — the sadness and brokenness creep in, but God’s children look up to heaven for strength.”
And despite the challenges, Anaïs has relished discovering Nigeria, its culture, its people, and its turmoil.
“I’ve grown to love it! My favourite places are the markets where there’s always something entertaining to notice amongst the crowds and hustle bustle.
“It’s a privilege to be serving here and learn from this resilient God-fearing community, who despite often having very little, their faith and trust in God is amazing.”
By Kerry Allan
- Praise God for the strong community of believers he is building up in Nigeria.
- Give thanks for Anaïs growing understanding of Hausa that has opened doors to opportunities to share the gospel.
- For Anaïs as she returns to the UK in July and thinks about her future plans.
Click here for a free resource to help you and your church pray for Nigeria.
Find out more about SIM’s Faithful Witness initiative to share the good news in Nigeria.