Church of the Nazarene enters the Casamance
I glanced down at the odometer as we rolled back into Dakar. 1450 km had rolled under our wheels on our first trip to the south of Senegal. Senegal is separated into two by the entrance of the Gambia river into the interior. The country of Gambia cuts into Senegal like a knife creating an island of one country in the center of another. In order to get to the southern portion of Senegal called the “Casamance” you either circle around the country of Gambia or cut through the center by transiting the Gambia and using a ferry to cross the river. We chose the direct route.
As in most trips we had faced adversity in several types. The first was unfamiliarity of the route. We turned in one key town where construction had forced multiple detours and to our great dismay sent us in the wrong direction. A situation made worse is that we went 100 kms before realizing our error and the only solution was to back track. Our extra adventure cost us 3 hours of time and a lot of discouragement. We then started the long process of crossing a very short distance across Gambia. We faced police stop after police stop, paying our passage fees every few miles and being delayed almost an hour trying to cross the river due to slow ferry operations. One stop I rolled too far past the barricade before stopping. I was detained for an hour and fined for my transgression.
Once into the Casamance my truck started jerking sharply off to the right of the road. It was soon evident that my brakes were grabbing randomly. I dismounted the tires and found that my break shoes had broken loose and a bolt was jamming the brakes. In the dark now, and with flashlights and few miscellaneous tools, we found some wire from local good Samaritan’s and before long I had things wired up and running good enough to make it to Kolda which was our final destination. We were about 75 kms from our destination when we met a police stop and was told that vehicles were not allowed to proceed after 9 pm on this road for security reasons. My driver’s license was confiscated and we were told to sleep on the side of the road until 6 am the next morning. With 4 of us in the vehicle we were not sure what we were going to do, but resolved that our fate was determined and settled down in the vehicle in the dark hoping to catch a few winks of sleep.
Just as I was about to fall asleep I heard a tap at my window. The officer handed me my license and told me I was cleared to go. I guess he decided we were not going to offer him and enumeration for the privilege of passing and we found out that the rule for operations to hault was only for commercial vehicles. We praised God and finally rolled into Kolda just after midnight which was 15 hours on the road.
The next few days we met with our new pastor and contact Pastor Alberto DoSantos. He is a pastor that originally came from Guinea Bissau just across the border from southern Senegal. He had been in Kolda for the last year making contacts and beginning to establish relationships for planting a church. Alberto had heard about the Nazarene church and desired to open a new work in Kolda with our church. We spent time together getting to know each other and visiting the town. We were impressed with the small busy town of Kolda. It truly is a cross roads of commerce in the Casamance. We agreed that this was the right place to start the work in the Casamance. From this initial strong hold we could expand churches into all the villages within 200 kms and across the border into Guinea Bissau.
We spent time in prayer, visiting other leaders in the community, connecting with partnering organizations like World Vision, and observing sections of town that could use a church. In this entire region there are only a handful of protestant churches. The beginning of new work here in Kolda will surely impact the kingdom of God. We prayed together, gave materials for Pastor DoSantos to use for teaching and preaching, and then headed back to Dakar. We delivered the Jesus Film Equipment and our evangelist Pastor Innocent Zamigure planned to return in the next month to continue development with the starting church.
As I reflect on this trip, I realize that God is stretching our church. The resources to get the ministry going there is beyond our resources. But God knows our need. Effectively shortly after that initial trip in December we began to see God answer prayers. A partner from the US came to our aid. His name is Rev.Bleemie & Min. Banasee Zoewah from the Agape Missionary Church of the Nazarene(amcotnaz)
http://www.amcotnaz.Org Rev. Bleemie and his wife are Liberians living in the US but with a great passion for the unreached areas of West Africa. We praise God that this dedicated couple is helping us both financially and in prayer for the work of the Casamance. This is how the great family of the Church of the Nazarene works together to build his kingdom. We praise God for this new work in the Casamance.
We still need help and so we pray that God will send other partners to help us reach this very needy area that has not heard the great good news. If you would like to get involved in any way please contact us.
May God be praised!
Rev. Tim Eby
District Superintendent Senegal