Africa’s Eden – you can find it floating off the coast of Gabon: the tropical island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe. With its spectacular beaches, vast stretches of rainforest, dramatic volcanic rock formations, and vast array of fruit, marine life, birds and plants, it really is a tropical paradise.
In the university world however, it’s a different story: these two small islands still have no university student witness.
A moment of breakthrough
After a decade of praying, two EPSA staff members finally had the chance to visit last year. Lawrence and Frederico met the chaplain of the national secondary school. He had been longing to see a university fellowship start up. He showed them around four university campuses and introduced them to local evangelical pastors. They had the opportunity to share the IFES vision and were welcomed warmly. The local pastors had been praying for this too!
There were other answers to prayer: two of the local pastors with experience in financial institutions were willing to help with graduate ministry. Lawrence and Frederico also met some local students who were excited to get prayer groups started. The students now have inductive Bible study guides in Portuguese, and the EPSA staff hope to return soon to provide leadership training to ten students.
A long road ahead
It’s an exciting start, but Lawrence and Frederico know there will be challenges ahead.
The islands are predominantly Roman Catholic and only have a small evangelical population. The church is financially poor. Lawrence and Frederico have not yet found a local Christian to coordinate the pioneering work in a full-time capacity, and there is no guarantee the university authorities will allow the new fellowships to meet.
Please pray with us that these challenges can be overcome, and that God would establish a thriving student movement in São Tomé and Príncipe.
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