Out of Africa
While I have been there many times, Lee and I have never had the opportunity to go there together. The days of March 25 to April 4 were a wonderful exception.
We traveled to Senegal to attend the Converge Africa Regional Conference during the first part of the week. We had been looking forward to meeting the Converge Team from multiple countries in West Africa for some time. Global workers attended from Senegal, Togo, Nigeria, Cote’ D’ Ivoire, and others who had lived in Cameroon before the civil war there. We had the privilege of connecting with many workers we had never met in person.
The conference was a significant encouragement. We heard many great stories of what God was doing in some fairly remote places. Those stories reminded us that, even when we don’t see it, God is at work in the world. And there are people serving Jesus in faraway places, making an eternal difference – and most of us have no idea that they are there.
One of the other reasons we went to Africa was to tell those who attended about the French version of our A Simple Word website. When we first set out to build that site, our goal was to provide a tool to the church to help new believers get a good start in their faith journey. Now that tool would be available in in Francophone West Africa. But the tool will not be effective without a good number of qualified workers to follow up with the people who engage with the site. One of our objectives in going to the conference was to have conversations with people on the field, in the trenches, we would have might help us find those workers.
When we talk about Francophone West Africa, we refer to those twenty-one countries that were colonized by the French or deeply impacted by French colonization. The use of French varies from country to country. In most of them, French is the official language of education, and many governments conduct business in French. French is spoken as the default language by over 60% of the people in six of those countries. Seventeen of the twenty-one Francophone African countries have French-speaking populations of over 1,000,000 speakers. Add the French speakers in those countries together, and Africa is home to more than 70% of the world’s total French-speaking population.
As it touches our “first responders” goal, the week in Western Senegal was more productive than we could have hoped. We had meals and conversations with people from every country represented. All of them were interested in what we are doing. Many will pursue follow-up discussions to talk about how they could use the site (and our books) to benefit what they are doing in their part of Africa. And they all agreed to help us find the kind of people we are looking for.
As to the website translation itself, it is progressing quite nicely. We hope to have phase one completed by early May. The site should be ready for full field testing by mid July. We hope to have that first set of “first responders” identified and prepared before the end of June.
Thank you to all of you who prayed for our excursion to Africa. We arrived home safe and healthy.
But please don’t stop.
That all of those follow-up conversations will take place.
That all of those conversations will be fruitful.
That all of those conversations might ultimately result in the growth of the church in Africa.