“Free folk”

Living from the western Sahara to western Sudan, the Tamajaq, or Tuareg (“free folk”) as they are often called, are mainly nomadic. They herd cattle, camels, goats, and sheep, and live in family groups within tents of goat hide.

        Though they are Muslim, they have the reputation of practising quite a passive form of Islam, infused with folk beliefs and magic. Of those in Niger, only 0.09% follow Christ.

        Andrawes* and his wife, Tamajaq Christians, joined the SIM Niger team in 1999, where he spent many years helping to translate the New Testament into the Tamajaq language. Since then, his focus has been to help the good news take root in the heart of his people and to help remote believers grow in their faith by recording the gospel and making it available on SD cards to use on mobile phones and solar-powered Mega Voice radios. He says, “These recordings will reach where we can’t go and be heard by hundreds, if not thousands of people, for whom this may be the only way to hear the good news about Jesus.”

        “We also proclaim the gospel through broadcasts twice a week on national radio. People are listening to our programmes across Niger. We’ve received feedback from every region except one and listeners will call to tell us how much they appreciate the programmes – some even ask if we can make them more often and longer than the 18-22 minutes!”

        The majority can’t read. Being an oral society, they are used to hearing stories being told. “They listen intently, taking everything in; which is why we focus on helping them hear the good news in their own language so it can enter their hearts and make a real impact on their lives.” Fifteen years ago, SIM helped set up a church in a town near Tahoua (Niger’s fourth largest city) which is led by Gad*, a friend of Andrawes. Pastor Gad regularly visits three villages on his motorbike, which was bought by SIM supporters, spending time building relationships and explaining the gospel. “Our ministry has focused on the Tahoua region where most of my people live,” says Andrawes. “We see our work as correcting some false misconceptions Tamajaq people have about the Christian faith, preparing minds and hearts for the gospel message to take root, and helping them to grow in their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.” Current plans: “After many years we are now, by God’s grace, seeing the work bear fruit,” says Andrawes, “and we are extending our outreach into the Agadez region, which is an exciting ministry opening for me. I recently joined a pastor from Agadez to meet a group of men who were very welcoming and said they were Christians. This is amazing! Now these new believers need teaching to grow in their faith. “We also plan to set up a Tamajaq-speaking Bible school. Planting and strengthening the church is our ultimate goal and although we’re unsure of what church will look like in a nomadic context, we give thanks to the Lord.”

—Kerry Allan

How we can help:

• Pray for the ministry to get more slots on the local radio station to broadcast more frequently.

• Malaria, and access to health care in general, is a huge problem for these communities. Pray that the ministry receives enough financial support to donate treatment packages.

*Names changed