Senegal is a coastal nation in West Africa that is home to over 16 million men, women, and children who bear the image of God. The tragedy is that fewer than 1% of them recognize Him. Notably, Senegal was also a key location in the TransAtlantic slave trade where for over 300 years, millions of Africans were held captive then sold to those who never recognized God’s image in them. In such places, you can feel creation’s groan for redemption, and the silent cry of man’s heart to know the peace and wholeness God always intended.
In this hope, we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Romans 8:24-24)
God has always loved and longed for His people in small but resilient Senegal. Today one way He pursues them along her various beaches and dusty roads, or through thick mangrove forests and rice fields, is with a coach carrying a soccer ball. Sports Friends moved into Senegal in 2013, pioneered by Philippe, a man who already recognized the efficacy of sports ministry and wanted to see young people in Senegal encounter the God who created them for good purpose. After seven years of diligent work, country leader, Philippe and staff member, David have overseen the training of dozens of coaches, and currently serve more than 1,200 youth.
We asked Philippe and David at the 2020 Global Gathering, when worldwide Sports Friends staff gathered to praise and seek the Lord together, what was the latest in Senegal.
What are some answers to specific prayers have you been seeing lately?
Young people are responding to the gospel. Our coaches have worked hard for years to build a good foundation, and young people are responding to the Good News through camps and as part of ongoing teams. We also see God building up coaches and establishing churches.
How can we join you in prayer right now?
We praise God. We have many trainings ahead, and have a lot of planning to do for the upcoming year.* We need God’s wisdom to do what He calls us to do. We need health and strength. We need the ability to translate into French the resources we received at the Global Gathering, and to be able to train our coaches to use them appropriately. Pray we keep our desire and focus on the work. Pray that we can reach more Senegalese young people and impact this country.
*Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many planned events worldwide must be adjusted according to the immediate circumstances in each nation. We ask that you pray specifically for our leaders to have clear insight into how to use this unusual time in preparation for what God has next, as well as strategy to stay connected to the young people on their teams even though they may not be permitted to gather together.
Tell us how you see God blessing the local church in Senegal through Sports Friends’ work there.
We have seen great impact in one particular denomination. There are 14 churches using the Sports Friends model, and they have started a new church through it after 5-6 years of work in one area. Praise God for what He is doing in that denomination! In the beginning one senior pastor was giving them problems [not understanding the vision fully], but now is starting a new church through the ministry! This denomination is inviting us back for more trainings and want more coaches. The ministry is running well.
Another denomination never wanted a sports ministry, but one small church started to use the model. When their leadership saw the positive results, a pastor in the east part of the country called to organize a training. Now there are 28 coaches there, and they meet together monthly. Many more are calling from this region as well, and we plan to share the vision with them also.
We love to see the community God is developing through the strength of teamwork and likeminded goals! Pray for the pastors and coaches, both seasoned and new, as they continue to love their young neighbors in Jesus’ name.