Alimata’s story

My name is Alimata*. I’m a student in Burkina Faso. I come from a Muslim family, but converted to Christianity shortly before coming to university.

My family disapproved, insulted me and deprived me of money. But God’s love was strong and I stood firm in my decision. When I went to university, I joined the local UGBB group. They showed me great love and I felt happy at every meeting. I have now started sharing the gospel on campus and in my neighbourhood.

I have found peace, joy and health with Jesus by my side, and my behaviour is always changing positively. May this testimony be an encouragement to those who pray for the salvation of Muslims. The Lord continues to win them to Himself.

Will you join with us this week as we pray for Alimata and students in Burkina Faso?

  • Thank God for Alimata and at least 1,000 other students who have decided to follow Jesus over the past year. Pray for them to grow in the Lord.
  • UGBB, the IFES movement in Burkina Faso, is currently pioneering several new groups, supported by the IFES Breaking New Ground initiative. Pray that these new groups would last and be effective in reaching many.
  • Pray for an end to the repeated attacks on civilians in Burkina Faso (and on churches in particular), and for the school closures.

*name changed

Another sound of Africa – Johnny’s dream becomes reality

Johnny grew up in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) but moved to North Africa to study at university. One evening he attended an event for musicians organised by the local IFES movement, and he felt God speaking to him. Over dinner, three questions raced around his mind:

– Why are the sounds I hear from Africa often the sounds of guns? 

– As a student architect, what other sound can I bring? 

– What role can education play in the development of Africa? 

That evening, a dream was birthed in Johnny’s heart: to see Congolese society transformed through education, that another sound might be heard in Africa.

20 years later, Johnny has opened a new university in the DRC. Another Sound of Africa University (ASAf). It is located in the poorly developed eastern part of the country. Programs include Christian formation, as well as research and practical projects in the surrounding town. Johnny believes that students should not wait until they graduate to start transforming society, but should start from day one on campus.

Let’s pray for Johnny and the work of ASAf:

  • Thank God for Johnny’s vision, hard work and courage in starting ASAf. Thank God for the students already studying at the university.
  • Pray for the new GBU group (the IFES movement in the DRC) on campus – pray that they would live holy lives and be passionate to see their friends know Jesus.
  • Pray that through ASAf, many students would be raised up with vision, skills and a godly character, to transform society. Current challenges include Ebola, political instability and violence.

Thanks for praying with us!

Johnny was part of the IFES Engaging the University Scholars’ Track at World Assembly 2019. The gathering aimed to develop a sense of shared vision among African scholars, who believe that their faith should not be divorced from their lecturing or research.

How student work began in Senegal

July 1964. 

Denyse Perret boarded the boat, along with her ten-month old baby and all their belongings, packed into barrels. The young French mother, pregnant with her second child, was bound for the city of Dakar in Senegal. She was to join her husband Louis there. He had spent the last ten weeks scouting out student ministry opportunities across West Africa. But Dakar was to be their home for now. Their mission: to pioneer student ministry. 

Dakar was the only university city in French-speaking Africa at the time. Denyse and Louis had no student contacts initially. Their starting point was the cafeteria of Fann University where they would meet students and invite them to visit their home. It was slow going. In a predominantly Muslim environment, Christian students were wary of engaging in evangelism. But over the following 12 months, an evangelical student movement took shape. Student organisations were illegal, but the group boldly and prayerfully sought permission from the Muslim government to register. GBU became the only officially recognised student group in the country. 

In Senegal today, evangelical Christianity is growing, but remains a small minority at just 0.17%. There are around 300 students actively involved in GBU Senegal, sharing the gospel and seeking to start new groups. 

Meet Tabitha – a student living for Jesus in Benin

University life looks very different for IFES students around the world. We asked Tabitha, a student in Benin, to tell us about her university experience. Read on to find out about her daily routine, the challenges facing her fellowship group and how God has been answering prayer. 

Tell us a bit about yourself and your family.

My name is Tabitha. The Lord has given me the grace of having blown out twenty-one candles. I am the youngest of seven, with five sisters and one brother. My parents are traders. Most people in Benin are Muslims, but in my family we are all followers of Jesus. 

What does an average day look like for you?

My days usually begin around 6:30 with morning prayer and meditation. (Sometimes my morning devotion is sloppy because of the intensity of university study and fatigue from the day before, but then I spend time with God later.) 

I live 20 minutes’ walk away from campus. It’s a hot walk at the moment, with temperatures over 40°! 

I am near the end of university. I’ve been studying applied statistics. There are about 20 students in my class. We have classes 8am-6pm, Monday to Saturday. We get two hours off in the middle of the day to eat lunch (akassa or rice, with peanut or tomato sauce, and cheese or fish) and take a nap. In the evenings I like to listen to gospel music, cook dinner (my favourite meal is fried yams), look over my courses for the following day and chat with my friends. 

Share something you’ve learned recently in the Bible.

Recently I read Mark 13:27-37 and it touched me a lot.  

“Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.” v.33 

This verse attracted my attention. I must watch and pray. Watching means not being distracted, but keeping my eyes fixed on the kingdom of heaven and examining everything in the light of God’s Word. I asked God to help me be attentive to everything that happens around me and not be distracted by the things that take me away from my ultimate goal. I prayed that He’d help me hold on to His Word and pray at all times. 

How did you become a Christian?

Growing up, I certainly knew the person of Jesus and what He did on the cross for me, but I had not yet let Him control my life. As a teenager, everything began to change. Jesus gave me a new heart and transformed me completely. I gave up stealing, I stopped rebelling against my parents, I quit lying and gossiping. From then on, I began to seek to understand the Bible and to pray. 

Tell us about your GBU fellowship.

We meet on Fridays after class. We go there to grow in our relationship with God and to share Christ with our friends. 

A current threat is that the government plans to ban religious activities on campus. Usually we meet outside, but even then, there are days when we are threatened. I am not afraid since our God is the God of impossible cases. We have already begun to pray about the government’s plans and know that God will act. 

What kinds of things do you worry about?

I worry sometimes about leaving university and entering the workplace. I also feel worried when my classes become too dense and I have a lot to do. But I know that the Lord has given me the ability to do everything I need to do in the time allotted. 

How have you seen God answer prayer?

Last year we had a mission week at my university and had many difficulties trying to hold activities. Our appeals were rejected. But we prayed. Had it not been for God’s hand we would not have been able to do anything. His miraculous intervention during this week of student evangelism gave me even more faith in his ability to do all things at the right time. 

If you’d like to pray for students around the world like Tabitha, sign up for IFES weekly Prayerline emails to read the latest stories and prayer points. 

We want to win the whole university

Bia is a student in Gabon, Central Africa. An estimated 75% of the population identify as Christians. However, it is thought that a large proportion are nominal Christians and don’t know the God they profess. Join us in praying for Bia and for GBG, the IFES movement there, as they seek to make Jesus known on their campuses. 

“We hold our meetings in the hallway within the university. Many students pass by. Some simply observe us and others are interested. One day when we didn’t expect it, a young man expressed the need to receive Christ in his life. We prayed for him and offered him a Bible a few days later. Today we still see him on campus and encourage him. 

Please pray for the growth of our cells. We want to win our friends and classmates to Christ through His Word, through our lifestyle and love. We want to win the whole university for the glory of God! Pray that each of us would proclaim the gospel of Jesus with power and confidence.” 

Thanks for praying with us!

Risking everything to start a new Christian fellowship

In some Francophone African countries, telling students about Jesus puts your own life and theirs in danger. Moussa*, a graduate from Burkina Faso, felt called to move to one such country in 2016. Religious extremism makes it a very dangerous place to be. State representatives and village chiefs have been assassinated. Humanitarian workers have been taken hostage. Police have been killed. Crossing the country to reach students in more remote parts has been made even more difficult by the ban of motorcycles as a mode of transport (an anti-terrorist measure).

In such a hostile environment, it is even more remarkable when students risk telling others about Jesus. Moussa recently organised some evangelistic training for student leaders. One of them, Jean-Marc*, committed to start a new group in a high school about 30 km away. Despite the ban on motorcycle traffic, Jean-Marc went to negotiate with local authorities to obtain permission to make the motorcycle trip with another member of the team. By the grace of God, it was granted. Today, there is a Bible group in this school.

Moussa asked us to pray for the small movement: 

  • Thank God for Jean-Marc and the new Bible group in the school he’s started. Pray that members of this group would be fearless in sharing the gospel. 
  • Pray for Moussa and other workers here to keep remembering God’s sovereignty and power over darkness. Pray for more workers to be willing to go to dangerous places like these in Francophone Africa. 
  • Pray for the return of peace to this country. 

*name changed

Thanks for praying with us!

When Samba met the man called Jesus

Jesus: the name was familiar. Samba* remembered a group of Christians coming to his village in Mali to talk about a man called Jesus. They’d spoken about His miracles. They’d said that He was going to return. Samba had just been a child at the time. He wanted to know more about this Jesus, but his father told him not to think any more about it.

A seed of disappointment

But as Samba grew up, he found he just couldn’t stop thinking about it. And about religion in general. He had more and more questions about Islam. “You are a Muslim son. You should not give up on your father’s religion”, his father told him. Samba was particularly troubled when he thought about death and what would happen next. And on that account, his parents could offer him no reassurance. Would he have done enough good to get to heaven? They had no certainty. A seed of disappointment took root in his heart.

Meeting Daniel

Then in 2013, Samba met Daniel*. They were classmates, and soon became good friends. Daniel was a Christian. There was something about his life that impressed Samba – his behaviour, his attitudes. They often got into discussions about religion. Daniel regularly told him that he could be forgiven and saved by giving his life to Jesus and tried to convince him to do so. Samba refused, defending Islam and its teachings. But he felt far less conviction than he portrayed. He envied his Christian friend’s assurance of salvation. He wanted the same sincerity of faith and authentic love for others he saw in Daniel.

His questioning continued. His disappointment increased.

Samba remembered some Bible verses Daniel had once shared with him:

“All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” John 6:37 [NIV]

Why am I continuing to practise Islam in a vacuum? he wondered. Why should I stay uncertain when I could be sure of my salvation today, by giving my life to Christ?  Something was urging him to make that risky, life-changing decision.

A turning point

One day in May 2018, Samba picked up his phone and rang Daniel who, by this point, was working with students in a neighbouring country. “I’m tired of living in doubt. I want to become a Christian. I want to give my life to Christ.”

Samba, a management student, is now part of his local GBU group. Since deciding to follow Jesus, he’s known a new freedom and peace:

“Before I gave my life to Jesus, I had a lot of worries. But since I gave my life to Jesus, there is a great joy that animates me.”

He’s told his family about his decision, and for the moment, they are not persecuting him. But with so few Christians around him, it could be a lonely journey ahead.

Pray for him to remain faithful to Christ. Pray also for all those who are disappointed in Islam, that they, like Samba, would come to know Christ

*name changed