The Sahara is the largest desert in the world, covering 3.5 million square miles. A topographical map of Africa shows the continent with a cap of sand all across the northern 25%. EFM’s first field, Egypt, is in the Sahara. Sudan and Eritrea are also there, while Ethiopia, another long-term field, is just below it.
As you move to the south, toward equatorial Africa, a topographical map turns green and stays mostly green all the way to the southern tip. This vast area is where “the jungles of Africa” are found. Sometimes it is called Sub-Saharan Africa, meaning that it’s below (south of) the Sahara.
You can imagine that early EFM missionaries to Africa saw a lot of desert and not much jungle. But in the last few years we have literally been reaching into the jungles of Africa.
We opened an institute in Liberia in 2017. Total enrollment of the 24 sites has been as high as 450. Several of the sites are training pastors from the Bassa tribe who never before had training in their language. 6,000 high school students have been through at least one of our courses since we started training teachers to use the courses in schools. We bought a property and built a central institute to which a second floor is currently being added. In September of this year we opened an elementary school in the central institute building.
We started working in Ivory Coast in 2020. Jean Paul Quassy had been starting churches for several years, placing young pastors in villages. He has a passion for extending the Gospel and planting churches in the unreached areas like the predominantly Muslim northern half of the country. To raise up Christian workers and strengthen untrained pastors, we opened a training center in a rented building in Abidjan, a city formerly known for the export of ivory and slaves. There are now 16 training sites with a total of 350 students. Pastor Quassy has a vision for making training available in the French-speaking countries of Africa and has opened a training site in the country of Burkina Faso.
A ministry team in Kenya was so eager to start training that as soon as we said we could start a Kiswahili translation of the ministry training courses, they opened the institute. By 2021, enrollment in our Bible institute in Kenya had exceeded 100 students. They have a vision to help other training sites open, and we sent a team to train teachers in September of this year.
Pastor Udeme in Nigeria evangelized in jungle villages for years, wading rivers and hiking on the trails. He has a passion for mentoring pastors in rural, primitive places. In 2022 we helped Pastor Udeme assemble a team of teachers that travel and teach at seven rural sites.
We opened offices in three major cities of Tanzania in 2023. We already had courses in Kiswahili because we had produced them for Kenya. We have a representative at each office that prints courses and provides training as needed for pastors who want to start study groups. These three representatives also helped with the training in Kenya.
We are very thankful for the people God has brought to us. We work with local leaders who believe in the authority of the Bible, testify to the work of the Spirit in their hearts and ministries, and have a passion to extend the Gospel. God is already working through them, and we are privileged to equip them.