Focus Area: Sahel Region
When Mary and I served overseas, I remember coming back to the USA for a home assignment and seeing many cars with a bumper sticker that read, “Think globally; act locally.” While that message referred to the environment, I find it very appropriate to what God calls us to do as Christians who serve locally and pray and support what God is doing throughout the world. That idea may help explain why we have “focus areas” as we serve here “both” in our own local ministries “and” to the ends of the earth (see Acts 1:8—NASB).
In 2020, we began our focus on the Persian people group and the spread of the Gospel among that people. We are adding a new focus, that area through the heart of Africa called the Sahel. Our goal is to discover how Westover Church, while continuing to reach the world around us, can also be involved in what God is doing in that key part of Africa. In committing to a focus area, we will seek to learn about the needs, how we can pray, and how we can support work that is already taking place in the Sahel.
When our previous missions pastor, Lynn Everswick, first told me about focus areas, I remember how excited he was about how God had opened the door for Westover in East Asia as we prayed for that part of the world. We had a few workers in that part of the world when it became a focus but, as we sought the Lord, God allowed us to send people both as career workers as well as many short-term teams from Westover. That is how we are seeking the Lord for the Sahel and the critical needs in that part of Africa.
Several people have asked me how we chose the relatively obscure Sahel region as a focus area. The process was rather simple; we contacted several mission agencies and simply asked them what places in the world were in need of prayer and their input is what has led us to this strategic part of the world. The fastest growth in the population of Christians in the world, both numerically and by percentage, is happening in the southern countries of Africa. The predominately Muslim northern countries have taken note of the advance of Christian works in the South as well as their outreach into the Sahel (and other countries). To counteract this growth of the Gospel, Muslim countries are pouring money into the region in an effort to turn people away from the life-giving message of Christ Jesus.
So please pray. Here are four suggestions for prayer:
Ask God to raise up workers for His harvest field in the Sahel. Jesus is our example and Scripture tells us that, upon seeing the needs and being “moved with compassion,” the Lord asked His disciples to pray that workers would be sent to the Lord’s harvest (Matthew 9:36-38).
Pray that national leaders could be more fully trained for ministry. Surveys tell us that approximately 85% of those leading churches and teaching the Scriptures have no formal training so one of the great needs is for the pastors of this region to be trained. Jesus reminds us that those who are trained can be like Him (Luke 6:40).
As we pray for the Sahel and raise awareness of the needs, please ask the Lord for those who will respond in faith to the needs and say, as Isaiah, “Here I am, Lord, send me” (Isaiah 6:8).
Pray that the believers in the Sahel will endure hardships and reach others with the good news of Jesus. Paul reminded Timothy, “Endure hardships; do the work of an evangelist” and those words should serve to remind us that endurance is a necessary part of sharing the Good News about life in Jesus (2 Timothy 4:5).
Thank you so much for your prayers for our focus areas. Keep praying for the Persian people and as the Lord leads you, keep learning about the Sahel and praying for God’s power to touch people in that part of the world. In that amazing way that God works, He uses our prayers for accomplishing His purposes.
-Pastor David Harrop, Global Ministries Pastor