A Nigerien Evangelist Takes the Gospel to a Muslim Village

April 28, 2017 • Niger

While teaching people about Jesus Christ, a man and his family also meet a community’s physical needs

Nourou Mahamad is the son of a well-known Muslim imam. As a child and teenager, he attended Quranic school. His entire life was devoted to preparing to become an imam. But as an adult, he received a Bible from a friend, and he stayed up all night reading it. After six months of comparing the Bible to the Quran, he renounced Islam and became a Christian.

Nourou and his wife, Zeinabou Moussa, now work as evangelists for Samaritan’s Purse in Niger. Their job is a unique one, but it’s well-suited for someone like Nourou who comes from a Muslim background. Three years ago, they moved to Zangon Damou, a rural village with a 100 percent Muslim population.

Niger evangelism

Nourou with some of the plants he introduced to the community. Now the villagers grow crops without Nourou’s help.

The transition was difficult. Previously, they had lived in the city with running water, electricity, and most modern conveniences. In the village, they had nothing. They moved into an isolated hut, and the community members laughed at them and refused to associate with them. But when many would have given up, Nourou and Zeinabou persisted in their mission.

“The reason why I [felt] like I should go there is I’m convinced that I have a call to preach the Gospel,” Nourou said.

They lived their lives in accordance with their Christian faith. Nourou treated Zeinabou and their children with love and care. The villagers began to notice.

Nourou believes it was the day-to-day witness of his family’s lifestyle that began to touch the hearts of his Muslim neighbors.

“When they see that you’re full of love; and they see that you always live in peace with everybody, especially your family; and when they see that you respect your family and your family respects you, that’s when they will come to you and ask you questions about how are you able to get this to happen this way, and from there they will try to know the secret.”

Niger evangelism

Damou

One villager, Damou Abdoulahi, offered to help Nourou build a more suitable house. As they worked together, Damou asked Nourou how his family lived in harmony. Nourou took this opportunity to share with Damou.

Then, Nourou shared with the whole village by preaching the Gospel in the nearby mosque. Daily, he continues to show the villagers how to live like Christ by performing simple tasks of love, such as washing dishes, which is typically a wife’s duty in Niger.

After spending time with Nourou, Damou accepted Christ as his Savior. That day, an imam visited the village and heard the news. He asked Damou’s brother, the village chief, how he had let it happen.

“It’s not [just] my brother,” the chief said. “Everybody in this village is Christian.”

Although some people are afraid to openly admit their new faith because they live in a country that is still 98 percent Muslim, the chief has seen a major shift in the community.

Niger evangelism

A woman from the savings group with okra that she grew to sell

Providing for Physical Needs

But Nourou isn’t in the community simply as an evangelist. Before he arrived, the villagers of Zangon Damou were starving. They didn’t understand business skills, and they had poor farming techniques. The health of the community was bad—with trash scattered everywhere and no one following good hygiene practices.

Nourou and Zeinabou visited families in the community to help them. Zeinabou taught the women how to breastfeed their babies and about good nutrition practices. They showed the men and women how to farm so that they would have more to eat than simple millet porridge. They held community cleanup days and taught people that, to stay healthy, the village should be clean and the people should wash their hands.

One of the biggest aids to the community was the start of a savings group. Zeinabou started the group that gives small loans to community members. The group uses the knowledge they learned about farming to grow more vegetables than before, and they sell these in surrounding areas. They are able to save around $200 per week. When a member wants to start a new venture, such as raising livestock, she is able to borrow money from the group, and once she is able to make money, she pays the loan back with interest.

“Through this savings group, we learned that we should love each other and be our brother’s keeper,” said one participant, Madou Abdoulahi. “We support each other. Our lives have changed and they’ve improved, and we believe that’s through [Jesus Christ].”

Niger evangelism

Damou with a sheep that the savings group purchased.

Continuing the Work

Evangelists like Nourou and Zeinabou typically stay in a village for three years. After that period of time, they leave to work in another village, and the villagers are left to continue the practices and faith they’ve learned. Nourou and Zeinabour have left Zangon Damou, but one man has already volunteered to take the lead.

“By the grace of God, I can assure you that what [Samaritan’s Purse] has sown is rooted in this community,” Damou said. “It will never leave. I, myself, will make sure it’s sustainable.”

Damou is also a Christian leader in the village. He’s not afraid of the persecution he may face because of his faith and is ready to share it.

“The whole of me has changed,” he said. “When they found me, I was a different person. [Now,] I belong to Christ. My prayer is that our God, our Lord, our Savior brings more souls to Him.”

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Niger Projects
Niger Projects Niger is one of the poorest countries on earth, ranking among the lowest on the United Nations Development Program's Human Development Index. Drought cycles, instability, and desertification continue to have a negative impact on the economy. To help alleviate poverty and reduce malnutrition in villages such as Guidan Gado, Samaritan's Purse implements livestock and agriculture programs to help vulnerable families. Household water treatment systems and latrines have also been installed in a number of villages to reduce disease. Through all of these projects, we seek to share God’s Word in a country that is around 98 percent Muslim.

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