Context: One dimension of EMM work in West Africa occurs within an area running from the western end of The Gambia to the south through the Casamance area of Senegal, and ending in the northwest region of Guinea-Bissau: a radius of 50 miles.
The population of this area includes over a dozen people groups, many of which are considered unreached. Some of these people groups are primarily animistic in belief, relying heavily on the occult and witchcraft, with some having a façade of nominal Christianity. Other people groups adhere primarily to folk Islam. There are some established evangelical churches in the region, which contribute to a small percentage of evangelical Christians in the population.
Other EMM work in West Africa takes place in the area from Nigeria to Sierra Leone, where many churches have been established. However, it has been observed that the spread of the gospel in that region is “a mile wide but only an inch deep.” According to local pastors and bishops, much work remains to be done in the areas of discipleship, training, and leadership development. Some churches own and operate Bible schools to provide this training; they are looking for administrative guidance and curricular resources to help them do a more effective job.
EMM work: EMM workers in the Gambia/Senegal/Guinea-Bissau corridor have partnered with the national church as it has established churches in numerous villages. The church plants function under local leadership; others are led by African evangelists/teachers who come from the established congregations. EMM ministers to this region through leadership development and health work as well as Bible teaching and introducing people to Jesus.
Primary ministry responsibilities have moved from the expatriate missionaries to African believers in recent years, with expatriates serving as teachers and encouragers for the African leaders. People are generally open to the gospel, especially when we use a holistic approach.
In the broader region, EMM partners with the Africa Association of Bible Schools (AABS), headquartered in Ghana, which comprises over 500 Bible schools in 10 countries. AABS provides a 62-course curriculum to Bible schools, along with materials and coaching on how to set up and operate a Bible school.
Vision: In the Gambia/Senegal/Guinea-Bissau corridor, it is clearly the time for Anabaptist workers to be actively establishing faith communities. Presentation of the gospel from an Anabaptist perspective has been quite attractive to West Africans over the past several years and holds great potential for growth in the region and beyond. We have been building collaboration with local evangelical churches and seek to plant churches among numerous unreached people groups in West Africa with little or no witness, rather than competing with other denominations. Is God calling you to be part of a team sharing in the work of crossing cultures, engaging these groups in West Africa and making disciples?
AABS exists to empower the local churches of Africa through helping to establish independently operated Bible schools, providing Biblical teaching resources, and encouraging pastors and leaders. Local Bible schools draw upon the strengths, experience, and resources of AABS to increase their ability to teach believers and train ministers for the work of the local church.