“It’s an answer to prayer – God has opened the door!”
Lawrence Gomez was talking about Cape Verde (Cabo Verde). As IFES West Africa Associate regional secretary and pioneering lead in English and Portuguese Speaking Africa (EPSA), he visited the island nation with EPSA Regional Secretary Zelalem Abebe last year. Years ago, attempts were made to start student ministry on Cape Verde, but they came to nothing. Then, after years of prayer, a door opened – and has continued to open ever wider.
In a scouting visit in July 2022, Lawrence and Zelalem shared the vision for campus ministry with students and church leaders, and connections quickly developed. The door was starting to open. A key contact they met was Isabel Ines, a lecturer at Universidade de Cabo Verde, who had encountered IFES ministry 25 years ago in Brazil as a student in ABUB (Aliança Bíblica Universitária do Brasil). With her positive IFES experiences and good standing in a local Nazarene church, she was able to credibly advocate for the ministry with various church pastors.
So, when the IFES EPSA team returned in November, they were able to identify potential board members and conduct preliminary governance training with them. In some contexts, church leaders can be cautious about IFES ministry, fearful that it may take youth away from the local church. Not in Cape Verde; God was further opening the door with Emanuel Monteiro, pastor of the Baptist Church in the capital Praia. He provided his office for meetings, agreed to become a board member, and has been helping with the paperwork for registering a national student movement.
The churches’ support also helped to identify the first staff worker: Berenice. A recent graduate, she was recommended to Lawrence by Pastor Emanuele. The IFES team were impressed with her heart for student ministry – and her ability to speak English, Portuguese, and French, which will give her good access to the university’s 1,000+ students.
And the students? They can’t wait. Lawrence recently received a WhatsApp message from one of the students they met in recent months: “When are you guys coming?”.
As if all this were not enough, the university administration has also shown positivity towards campus ministry. Lawrence says that Christian students living in university dormitories can feel isolated on Sundays with no shuttle bus to reach the city for church. To address this, the administration is happy for an auditorium to be used for fellowship each weekend.
Truly, God has swung the door wide open in Cape Verde by providing supportive churches, enthusiastic students, high calibre staff, and an amenable university administration. Let us pray that God’s blessing will now flow through this open door.
Pray with us for student ministry in Cape Verde:
- Praise God for all the positive developments of this past year and give thanks that the newly formed board had its first meeting in July. Pray that the strong links with churches will continue.
- Pray for Lawrence and Berenice as they seek to train students in leading inductive Bible studies in October. Pray especially that God will guide and equip Bernice in her new role.
- Pray for God to keep opening doors for pioneering work in EPSA – especially for São Tomé and Príncipe, where there are similar opportunities and openings.