How do teachers spend their Spring Break in Niger?
I know a few teachers in Niger, and there are two that have been planning for this Spring Break for about six months. They teach at international schools, but they are not missionaries from the west, they are Nigerien. They speak several languages and are very well educated, yet they struggle to make a living. Their Spring Break is full of promise because they share a dream to bring the love of Christ to a certain village, not any village, just one certain village very, very far from everything that you and I have ever known. This is a place that hasn’t seen electricity or running water. It’s not a place you will find on any map. It’s a place where more than 1,200 souls will live out their lives not knowing about the rest of the world going on around them.
The dream started more than 20 years ago. One of them had become a Christian, and he shared what happened with his brothers. They wanted to become Christians too! Then, he went off to university, and he discovered upon his return home that they had returned to the religion of their ancestors.
Most people in this village would call themselves Muslim, but their true religion is animism. Each person has a private sacrificial spot where they make a blood sacrifice to their own god. A spiritual leader comes to the village for 3 months out of the year so that people can pay him to cast curses or blessings on others in their village. Sometimes people pay him to offer sacrifices to the gods to heal them or their children. The spiritual leader makes a circuit of several villages and this is how he makes his living. In one day, he can be paid to put a curse on someone, only to be paid to remove the curse a few hours later. This is a normal transaction process in polygamous remote villages where men take more wives and have more children than they can feed, causing jealousy and desperation.
Each time these two teachers go to the village, one of them is struck ill. The teacher can be fine one moment and not be able to breathe the next. The teacher told me that he is probably being cursed by someone in the village. Then, with a bright smile, he tells me that the last time he was struck by this force, he could clearly hear a voice telling him that he would not die. He decided to continue his visits to the village.
You might ask, “Why bother?” There are thousands of villages in Niger. Why don’t they just pick another village?
One of the teachers was destined to be the chief of the village. His grandfather was the founder. When he grew up, he decided to leave the village, and he gave his power to another man.
Today, under animism, the village is on the brink of starvation. The people feel no hope. There is little chance for children to receive beyond a 5th-grade education. There is no industry beyond subsistence farming that provides food for 3-4 months out of the year. Feeling hungry is normal. Yet, there is nowhere to go.
Today, through God’s grace, there are two teachers who are dreaming, planning, and spending their Spring Break getting training on how to teach the villagers about farming techniques, saving money, and educating their children. They love these people – the same people who curse them and mistrust them because they have found a way of hope that says to create change, you have to sacrifice yourself and help others.
These two teachers are asking for help. They want to plant more trees, buy another cow to draw water from the well for gardening during the dry season, and they want to buy food for the families who are already out of food from the last harvest in October.
If you’d like to support their efforts, please click here. If you would like to pray for them, please start. One of them is in the village right now. The other has finished some training and is headed back to Niamey. They will both be in the village in April and June and August and October. They’ll be teaching, they’ll be praying, and they’ll be loving others well.
God is present. He cares for the starving souls in this village. Please pray with me that these two teachers will reach into the darkness with light, hope, and love.
31 March, 2021