28 November 2017 // Articles & Stories

Short Term: Serving in North Africa

Connected to prayer

This article was first featured alongside our Prayer Diary in December 2017. You can download the December 2017 prayer points here or sign-up to receive future editions by post or email.

Sarah joined the summer team to North Africa this year. She tells us what her time there was like and how she saw God at work.

Going to North Africa to visit AIM missionaries had definitely not been part of my plans for the summer until I got an email in March. But thanks to the persistence and encouragement of my local AIM mobiliser, I ended up joining a small team of five to go and spend a couple of weeks doing just that. I have been interested in finding out how I can serve God in sharing the wonderful news of Jesus among those who have never heard the gospel and this short trip gave our team the chance to see what it looks like to be a missionary in a creative access nation.

An extra granny   

Penny shares about her trip to North Africa.

Last winter I began to feel unsettled. I was challenged about my subconscious absorption of my own culture. At 74 I needed to turn from the concept that my retirement, apart from helping family, was a time to eat, drink and be merry. I was a free, relatively healthy and active woman. Old age brings its limitations and frailties, but they are my Father’s problem wherever I am.

I’ve been involved with mission work in Uganda for a number of years. Through this I witnessed the deliberate, planned advance of Islam in both Uganda and Tanzania. At home and in Europe, terror attacks were emphasising the radical nature of jihadi doctrine. I began to feel God’s call to minister in North Africa.

I explored opportunities to serve in North Africa, looking for a short term supportive role. AIM found a placement which I thought I would enjoy and so I went out for four weeks.

During this time I spent several hours a day in an English conversation and discussion group and had fun with the young children of the missionaries living there. An on-site ‘granny’ can be a big relief to families away from home who are trying to run a business and learn a new language as well as meet the demands of lively young minds and bodies. One lovely comment was made by a six year old who told me most solemnly, “You talk like Peppa Pig!”

Called to North Africa

After this trip I now feel that God is calling me to serve in this way more regularly. So much in North Africa was new and it was tiring. This experience clarified what is practical at this time in my life, and being able to serve in short stints, benefiting missionaries in their long term ministry seems a good solution. ‘For me to live is Christ, to die is gain’ (Phil 1:2).

It was amazing to see God’s provision as missionaries have started a business there and the ways in which he has been using them to develop relationships with those who desperately need to know the depths of his mercy and grace. Our team was able to be involved in the business they have set up and found it gave us natural opportunities to build friendships with local people.

The grip of Islam

This was my first time visiting a Muslim country and we were overwhelmed by the genuine kindness and generosity shown to us by the local people we met. However, witnessing the grip that Islam has on people was heartbreaking. Hearing the call to prayer, a mechanical reminder that they should be praying, became a sound which I came to despise. On our penultimate evening in North Africa, we arranged to meet some of our new friends in a café. One friend who joined us was fasting, Ramadan was over but she said this was a special time to do some extra fasting. Hearing her talk with such sincerity reminded me that ‘the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God’ (2 Cor 4:4). Yet we met those who are starting to see Islam as false, so my prayer is that she too will be unblinded.

The information sheet for this team said “you might even find God changes your world” and although this was a very short trip, God has shown me unexpected ways that I could serve him. He has also given me a burden and new urgency to pray that the Lord Jesus may be glorified in North Africa.