The Cross: The Key to Life in Christ
July 28, 2011
The teaching that changed a group of young men and affected an entire nation
by Rae Burnett
Only two years ago, a ministry (unnamed for security) in Senegal extended 50 invitations to attend its first annual Young Men’s Conference. In response, 140 Senegalese from all religious backgrounds and tribal groups, including non-believers, arrived to study God’s Word and learn how the cross is the key to life in Christ.
According to the ministry leader, “We saw hunger and thirst for God in the hearts of these young men who were captivated by the power and the life of the Word of God. They turned to the Lord and were broken, and began to hear, see, know, and experience new life in Christ.”
Senegal is a 97% secular Islamic country. Most of the remaining 3% are Catholic. Every tribe is as yet unreached, though some have a few professing Christians. Most tribes did not have even one believer until this conference where young men from every ethnic group, formerly entrenched in witchcraft, idol worship, and the occult, bowed before the cross of the King of Kings and were freed from their sins.
Present at the conference was a former cult leader whom this ministry leader led to Christ. He started a church of 16 new believers, whom he brought to the conference along with a tribal leader who was also a witchdoctor. In the meetings, the witchdoctor heard the truth of the gospel and repented. He returned to his tribe and, with the ministry leader who led him to Christ, preached the gospel to a group of witch doctors. They repented and burned their idols and amulets. Seven cell group churches emerged just from this one meeting, with four of the converts attending Africa School of Missions (ASOM) to learn how to effectively reach their own people with the gospel message of new birth in Christ and deliverance from satanic bondage.
This is just one of many stories illustrating the fruit of that first conference. Right away, the ministry leader conducted two large follow-up meetings and baptized and began discipleship of 150 people. Cell groups sprang up throughout the county. Several pastors humbly called this ministry leader requesting to attend the next conference after realizing the young men in their congregations returned changed and knowing more about the life of Christ than they did.
For Young Men’s Conference 2010, simple word of mouth turned out more than 300 young men who came to be fed with the Truth and Life of Jesus. It is as though an explosion of the Life of Christ had gone off in the nation. There are now more than 20 cell groups in Dakar alone. Most meet at least 3 times a week for worship, fellowship, and discipleship. Numbers increase every month because new believers are missions-minded and do evangelism. They want to share what Christ has done in their lives. Friends and neighbors are seeing the transformations and want to know more. Many who are from rural areas attend ASOM and are returning to take the gospel to their villages.
This life-giving ministry will hold its next annual Young Boy’s Conference in September 2011 as well as one for young women. More than 1000 have requested to attend, but few can afford to pay as only 17% of Senegal’s population can find work. Inflation is rampant, and most believers are struggling just to feed their families.
Christian Aid has provided funds for previous conferences and has now enabled the ministry to build a conference center that seats 1,400 people. However, chairs are needed ($10 each), and registration is restricted because of limited sleeping accommodations. LMA is hoping and praying to build a dormitory for future conferences ($35,000). Support is needed for food and transportation for those attending this week-long event ($30 per attendee). 500 mattresses are needed ($35 each).