The Joyful Fruit of Perseverance

Almost a decade ago, Ventura Missionary Church initiated a wildly ambitious venture of faith to introduce an unreached people group to the saving knowledge of the love of Jesus. The Songhai people live in a very remote area, so they were physically difficult to reach, but the barriers to reaching them for Christ were not limited to this challenge. Our church prayed and planned, and eventually sent out two survey teams to help us discern next steps.

It was on one of these first trips that God divinely connected us with a man who would be able to serve full time with the Songhai. Ezekiel, an educated pastor who had a huge passion to reach people for Christ, eagerly agreed to partner with us. Shortly after we secured that partnership, Ezekiel and his wife, Salamatu, moved to the remote village where the Songhai live. In the years that followed, we have sent numerous medical and clean water teams to share the transforming love of Christ and support the efforts of Ezekiel's ministry.

Ezekiel's contagious joy and ever-present smile would lead you to believe that the journey has been smooth, but he has endured through many oppositions and countless trials. In the face of these difficulties, Ezekiel has persisted in faith and stayed the course. Seemingly impossible obstacles have been surmounted by God's power. Amazingly, Campus Crusade, an organization who tracks UPG records, has formally changed our adopted people group from unengaged to engaged, because as of February of this year, there were two full-time workers and 20 known believers among the Songhai in the region we serve. Ezekiel shares these words about his experiences,

"When we started working among the Songhai unreached people group in Kebbi, being a predominantly Muslim community, there were oppositions from the locals, the government and all angles. They didn't even want to let us possess a piece of land to build and stay in their community. But amidst that, God raised someone who wanted to sell his land to us and he was ready to do this against all odds. We were reported to the authorities, and the authorities wanted to make things difficult for us.

When we had the first medical outreach, the authorities sent after me the police and the state security service to arrest me. But the Lord protected us from them all. Today, those who opposed us in the past, have become our friends as they are the light shining in darkness. And we continue to get more opportunities to share about the love of Jesus through what we do and say.

We have discovered that it is very important for us to put more attention on the discipling of the Songhai Christians so that they may own the vision of reaching their own people. By now, we have a number of them that caught this vision of reaching the Songhai.

Muda Jadda has keyed in to this vision very well now. He is the one who coordinates his people to all these meetings, because I want them to develop leadership skills that will prepare them for the future. Abdullahi Jatau is also committed to this vision. The young man Jafar is still in the mosque. Since he accepted Jesus, we encouraged him to remain there for a while in order to tell them about Jesus as he has a group of students he teaches in an Islamic school where he is. Dandare and Garba are here with me in Banizumbu as we continue to share the message."

Please continue to pray for the Songhai and for Pastor Ezekiel and all the new believers. To support Ezekiel, note Missions and Outreach on your gift.