A Report of the Lord’s Work in Senegal

by Nov 11, 2023Articles

Greetings, Southern Hills church family! 

I recently had the opportunity during a Sunday evening service to share with you a quick report from our team’s mission trip to Senegal in February of this year. I was thankful to have the opportunity to share that brief report with you, but I was disappointed that you could not hear all the stories of how we saw the Lord working while we were there. I am writing this newsletter to share those stories with you. I want you to hear more of our experience so that you may see a more complete picture of how God is using our church family along with fellow believers to reach those who are lost with the gospel of Jesus Christ. My prayer is that you will read these stories and be more amazed by God’s power, more thankful for God’s provision, and more passionate for God’s glory among the nations. 

Our team in the airport on our way to Senegal: (left to right) John, Nathan, Clint, Kerry


After three long flights, one night, another short flight, a car ride, and a boat ride we finally arrived to the island where we were staying for the week. We met up with our partner who lives nearby and several other believers we had joined for this trip. On Tuesday morning, we ventured out to the first island we were going to visit. We left our hotel and it took about 15 minutes to ride a boat across the river. From there we hiked about a mile and half to reach the village. Upon arriving, we greeted and visited with some villagers while making our way to the house of the village chief.

Conversation with the Chief

The chief was a kind and gracious man who happily greeted us and brought chairs out for everyone so that we could sit and visit for awhile. We were told that it was important for us to build relationships with the villagers and show them that we genuinely care about them before we tried to share the gospel. If we didn’t build this crucial foundation, the good news would simply fall on deaf ears. We sat and talked with the chief about his family and the village, and we shared stories and pictures of our own families and about ourselves as well. It was really interesting just to sit and listen to him tell us about his life and his role as the leader of the village. 

After we had visited for awhile, the time was right for us to begin sharing the good news that we had come so far to share. We told the story of Jesus, and of his perfect sacrifice, and we shared with the chief that the blood of Jesus would make him right with God if he would put his faith in Christ alone. We told the chief that the blood sacrifice of animals which our ancestors practiced only covered our sin, but the blood of Jesus sacrificed on our behalf actually removes our sin. Through Jesus, we have genuine peace with God! The chief listened carefully, but he hesitated when we told him that to be saved by Jesus he must turn away from his ancestral gods and animistic spirits. He could not simply add Jesus to his list of deities. After listening to what we shared, he simply replied, “I have heard what you said.” He went on to tell us that to follow this Jesus would require him to turn away from the traditions that as chief he was responsible for protecting. Though he seemed interested and asked several good questions, the chief did not accept the gospel just then. 

Throughout the Village 

Afterwards, we asked for permission to walk throughout the village and visit with the other families that lived in the area. Permission was granted so we split into two teams and set a time to meet back at the chief’s house. With our translator, who is a wonderful brother in Christ, our team approached the first house and sat down to visit with the folks who lived there. We visited for some time about each other’s families and got to know one other. We then shared the gospel story with them, explaining the truth from the Scriptures and answering any questions that they had as we went. The first question that was asked after we shared the gospel was, “Why didn’t you mention anything about Mary?”, referring to Mary the mother of Jesus. I was surprised at the number of questions concerning the differences between what we shared and the teachings of Catholicism that they had heard. We discovered that many people in these villages had heard something about Catholicism and they held to a form of syncretism, that is, they combined their ancestral beliefs with those of other faiths. 

Efforts to spread Catholicism and Islam have existed in Senegal going as far back as the 17th century which has resulted in widespread syncretism between aspects of cultural Animism, Catholicism, and Islamic traditions. To read more about the history of Catholicism and Islam in Senegal, follow this link to an article in The Journal of African History.

We explained to our new friends the same truth that we shared with the chief – that to be saved, they must follow Jesus alone. By the end of the conversation, three said they wanted to believe this good news that we were sharing with them! The fourth was open to the gospel but wasn’t fully convinced of the exclusivity of Christ just yet. 

From there, we traveled further into the village and we met a very kind woman who agreed to sit and visit with us. Our translator noticed and pointed out that she was wearing a necklace with the visage of Mary on it, indicating that she held to some degree of Catholicism. He explained to her why it was wrong to worship and pray to Mary and he showed her from the Scriptures why this was the case, all the while pointing her to the gospel. After having her questions answered, she told us that she wanted to believe the gospel and follow Christ alone! Later that afternoon we crossed paths with her again and we noticed something different – she had removed her necklace of Mary. What a wonderful sign of genuine repentance!

Stories By the Fire 

After we had returned to our hotel that evening, the hotel staff made a fire and cooked clams while others played a djembe. After some time, a group of locals had gathered around and our group leader said, “My parents used to tell us stories around the fire, so now is a good time to tell a story.” Another faithful brother who had joined us began to tell the story of Jesus calming the storm. We were invited to share a story as well so we shared the parable that Jesus told of the man who found treasure hidden in a field. Then we began to ask the group questions about the stories, steering the conversation to the gospel. Questions like, “What did you like about the story?”, “What didn’t you like about the story?”, “What does this story tell us about God?”, and so on. 

After much discussion, and while being mocked from the others in the group, two young men said they wanted to follow Jesus. By the end of Tuesday, between our two groups we had seen eight people profess faith in Christ. Praise the Lord! 


Our Return to the Island 

On Wednesday morning, we returned to this first island to continue our work there. The first person that we met with was the husband of the woman we talked to on Tuesday! We sat down at the chief’s house and one of our group shared the gospel story with him. We talked with him for quite some time and even took a chalk board that was nearby and walked through the Ten Commandments with him. The man was eager to hear, but he was struggling to understand the truth that he could do nothing to earn any righteousness or merit before God. Eventually, he understood and believed, praying right then to follow Christ alone! We carried on the same practice as the day before – walking throughout the village visiting with people and sharing the good news of the gospel. We got to share with a couple who were engaged to be married who prayed to receive Christ as well. Clearly, the Holy Spirit was doing a great work among these people!

Later that afternoon, we had the opportunity to sit and share the gospel with the chief’s wife. One of our group was invited to begin by sharing the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42) so that was how we began, telling her that our desire is that she, like Mary in the story, would choose the better portion and listen to the words of eternal life from Jesus. We shared those words with her – that Christ had come and lived a perfect life, died on the cross and was buried, was raised three days later and now reigns as King over all. She listened graciously and asked several good questions, but she did not accept the gospel at that time.

Showing The Jesus Film

We asked the chief’s permission to show the Jesus Film that evening, and he agreed. The Jesus Film is a wonderful tool that has been used for many years on the mission field. It is a simple depiction of the life of Christ with a powerful gospel presentation at the end, all of which can be translated into the language of the local people. The village had a small building that was used for community events so that’s where we set up the equipment – a projector, speakers, and a pop-up screen – to show the film. As the sun began to set, we were happy to see that somewhere around 25 adults showed up to watch the film along with 10-15 children. Because the film was not in English, we couldn’t understand what was being said, but we were told that the best thing we could do during the film was to pray for those who were watching and listening.

It was a humbling and glorious moment as we sat on a wooden bench listening to the sound of the gospel being proclaimed in a language foreign to us, but not to God. To give you a glimpse of that night, below is an excerpt from my journal as we sat and prayed in the dwindling light:

Earlier, we were asked to pray during this time, so here is my prayer as we watch the film – 

“Heavenly Father, thank you for the people of these islands. Thank you for those who already have decided to follow you, and I am asking you to please save more. Let your Holy Spirit open the hearts and minds of everyone in this village and especially everyone watching the film right now. Lord, you are worthy of their worship. Glorify your name by saving them so they are able to give you the glory you are due. Lord, Rev. 7:9-10 says that you will redeem people from every tribe and tongue which includes the people of this tribe and this language. Let your Spirit fall on these people and redeem them from the spiritual bondage they are in. For your glory and their joy, I ask in the name of Jesus. Amen.” 

It is getting too dark to write, but I will continue to pray. Soli Deo Gloria.

I sat with Kerry to my left, Clint and John to my right, and we prayed. When the film came to an end, members of our group stood and invited people to respond if they wanted to follow Jesus. One by one, people began to rise and walk to the middle of the room. All in all, there were seven more people who came forward to declare that they wanted to follow Jesus, including the chief and his wife! What an incredible God we serve!

Our hearts were full as we made our way back to the boat in the dark to return to our hotel. Our work concluded on this particular island for this trip, but the work itself certainly was not over. 


On Thursday, we planned to remain on the island where our hotel was and continue our practice of having gospel conversations with the people in this village. People were just as friendly here as they were on first island, but we would discover that these villagers were much less open to the gospel. 

Small Steps 

The first group we got to share with was a group of several young men who were kind, though fairly resistant to the gospel we proclaimed. Two of the young men informed us that they were Muslim, and it seemed that they held to a mixture of Islam and their traditional tribal beliefs. They were polite and asked good questions which we answered as best we could but ultimately none of them believed what we shared. Even still, two of the young men seemed to be interested and somewhat more open to the gospel so we continue to pray that God would open their hearts. 

Later that same day, we got the opportunity to visit with a sweet elderly woman within the village. After we talked for some time, we asked if she had ever heard of Jesus, which she had, and if we could tell her a story about him. She agreed and we shared with her the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead; we told her that just as Jesus was the only one who could raise Lazarus from the dead, so too is Jesus the only one who can save us from spiritual death. She was happy to hear this and very much enjoyed all the other stories about Jesus. We had a lengthy conversation about eternal life, but sadly we left uncertain as to whether or not she was saved. For me, this was one of the more disappointing moments of the trip because she seemed so close to believing, but there still seemed to be a misunderstanding of the gospel. 

Planting Seeds Through Answered Prayer 

That evening, we intended to show the Jesus Film on this island as well. However, as we set up the pop-up screen and the projector, we discovered a problem. The sound was not playing through the speakers. As it turns out, death and taxes are not the only certainties in life – you will also have A/V problems. Everything was connected and powered up as it should be, but still no sound was coming from the speakers. Not knowing what else to do, our group leader quietly looked at the rest of us and said, “Let’s pray.” We did just that, asking the Lord to make the system work so that these villagers could hear the gospel. We said “Amen”, reached down and plugged the same cord into the same port, and sound immediately came blasting from the speakers. When I witnessed this sudden answer to prayer, I was convinced that revival was going to fall on the island that very night! We played the film and presented the gospel as before, but unfortunately no one came forward to profess faith in Christ. However, I was not discouraged. God’s immediate and clear answer to our prayer was proof beyond any doubt that it was his will for the seed of the gospel to be planted that night, even if no fruit was yet seen. 


Our last full day was spent traveling out to an island farther away to visit the church that was planted there several years ago which now consists of 15-20 believers. We even got the opportunity to bring two of the new believers from earlier in the week with us so that they could meet with other Christians who lived nearby. When we arrived on the island, we left the boat and made our way to the interior of the village, finally arriving to a house where chairs had been set up in a circle for our meeting. 

It was a wonderful day filled with sweet worship of the Lord with our brothers and sisters in Christ. These believers do not worship Jesus without cost – in fact, they have been ostracized from the rest of village life because of their rejection of ancestral spirit worship. These are men and women who understand what Jesus meant when he said, “any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33). They have counted the cost of following Jesus and have determined that he is worthy. 

Worshipping With Our Brothers and Sisters 

We spent the day studying the Bible beginning with the importance of evangelism and sharing the good news, then spending the rest of our time studying the life of Moses in the book of Exodus. These believers don’t yet have the Old Testament written in their native language, so many of them were hearing the story of Moses for first time. All the while, as we studied through the Scriptures together, we would frequently pause to stand up and sing songs of worship. There were no beaming lights or loud speakers, no cushioned chairs or air conditioning – there were only Christians worshipping the name of Jesus Christ together. Surely, such simple worship brings great joy and glory to our Savior. 

Before we left, we learned that this little church of 15-20 people, who are currently enduring persecution for their faith, through their collective giving are sending one of their own members to another island to tell others the good news of the gospel. They are already sending their members out on mission! 

As we returned to the boat, my heart was full of joy from our day of worship, and yet I was saddened as we walked past so many other villagers who don’t yet follow Christ. Perhaps this is exactly how Christians are supposed to live in this world – full of joy in our magnificent, glorious Savior and at the same time burdened and overwhelmed by lostness all around us. 

Response? Pray, Give, Go, Pray Again. 

The return trip sent us through five airports and took around 35 hours to complete, but by God’s grace we made it home. 

What should we, Southern Hills Baptist Church, do in response to hearing these stories? My aim is simply that you would be even more passionately committed to pray, to give, and to go to advance the gospel in Senegal and countless other places in the world. May we, as a church family, solidify our commitment to work faithfully to see the gospel of Jesus Christ spread to every place and to every person. 

Pray, pray, pray for Senegal. Pray that God would protect those who made a profession of faith in him. Pray that God would cause their hearts to be like the good soil in which faith firmly takes root and does not wither. Pray for the island church, that God would supernaturally protect them and give them boldness to share the gospel with others. Pray that the enemy’s efforts to attack the church and blind the minds of unbelievers would utterly fail. Pray that God would open the hearts of those in Senegal who don’t yet believe. Pray for our church family as we continue to send teams to Senegal and continue to partner with believers who live and work in the region.

Pray that the name of Jesus Christ would be glorified in bringing many Senegalese sons and daughters to glory. 

Soli Deo Gloria.

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