(Article posted April 10, 2007)
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Stella Okoronkwo is a missionary, author and publisher. Some of her works in English have been published with Uzima Press in Nairobi, Kenya; her works in French, as well as some of her English titles, are published by HappyGate Books and Scripture Union Publishing in Nigeria.
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Macedonian Call from Famished Readers
As a humanitarian worker, author and missionary in Côte d'Ivoire, I do not take my professional travels within or outside the region for granted. I always see them as opportunities to represent the Kingdom of heaven in God's business of body and soul. That was how my travels to Senegal multiplied.
Soon, three churches began to invite me to speak in their Sunday services. I always went with my regular companions and evangelists—my books and tracts—and often they speak, teach and convict people even better than I do. They are powerful evangelists.
People in this West African country and the entire francophone world are famished for Christian literature. African missionaries, mostly from Nigeria and Congo, are now establishing churches and cell groups, thereby creating a deep hunger for God and His word. Literature evangelists—like Ablam, a Togolese, who kept a book table in front of Temple Evangélique in Dakar, Senegal's capital—told me that books on salvation, discipleship and fasting are in high demand. Happily, such were some of the books I took with me. Before long they were all bought, and the people wanted more.
"Christian books in French are very scarce here," says Charles Okafor, Nigerian pastor of a 100-member church in Dakar. "People need to recognize the importance of reading Christian material to improve themselves, but they tend to invest more in physical food than in spiritual food ... books."
"The church in Senegal is still very young," says Senegalese Pastor Abou Diong Pierre, a former Muslim now leading the Evangelical Mission for the Reconciliation of Souls in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. He notes that the country is 92 percent Muslim and 3 percent animist. Of the remaining 5 percent, most are Catholic; 0.6 percent are evangelicals, and this fraction is comprised mostly by foreigners who are students and business people.
"We do not have much in Senegal in terms of Christian literature," adds Pierre. "Most Christian bookshops are Catholic, and they mainly stock religious articles. We need books and missionaries that can shake up spirits."
"There is great ignorance among [the Senegalese] regarding their need for the Savior. What we need most are good tracts, attractive booklets and books that can convince them of their need for the Savior," concurs Jean Jeanse, a missionary.
Jeanse manages Librairie Yalla Wax Na, or "God Has Spoken Bookshop." This was the first bookshop in Dakar to stock and sell my books. Some Christian groups and individuals are making efforts to provide literature for famished souls in these nations, but what we have done is minimal due to limited resources.
"In Senegal, the number of evangelical Christians is very small," says Jeanse. "The Catholics are more in number, and God is creating some interest among the Catholics for our books."
The harvest is ripe in Senegal and its neighboring nations for more investment in Christian books.
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