Could you teach English on an Indian Ocean Island, and get to know people in order to build relationships and share the Gospel with the unreached Shibushi people?
The island of Mayotte became the 101st department of France in 2011. The islanders are known as the Mahorais (Maoré), of which there are two main people groups: the Shimaoré and the Shibushi, with the Shibushi being the minority. The Shibushi originate from Madagascar and speak a dialect of Malagasy called Kibushi. Although this people group have African origin, culture and religious expression they are, in fact, French. The Mahorais have become quite French culturally in recent years which means they think of themselves as superior to Comorians and other Africans.
AIM has been on the island for four decades and witnessed the changes in the culture, politics and village life. The close connections with the surrounding African islands, the many openings for cross cultural workers and the great spiritual need are reasons for AIM’s continued presence on the island.
The Shibushi people group is still unreached with the gospel (there are only a few local believers out of ~60,000 people). Despite the presence of several churches in the capital, the island of Mayotte is still in the pioneering outreach phase. There are ongoing efforts to help mobilise the churches in the capital but this has been quite challenging and requires dedicated resources and personnel.
Vision & Strategy
It is very important to be taken seriously and help people understand, as much as possible, your reason for being here. Most Shibushi men (and an increasing number of women) go to work and so to come in as a westerner with no clear job results in suspicion. It really helps to have a clear role which makes you credible and also establishes trust. Therefore, a platform helps the way that local people see us, but also helps workers to settle in to the community as they will quickly see that they are contributing to meeting a felt need.
New workers will come in as English teachers and become part of a local association so that they can provide teaching support and fulfil the educational purposes of the association. The primary language used at the school is French. Under French law the school cannot be used for evangelism but while they refrain from sharing the gospel in word they strive to share through their actions.
Ministry & type of work
1. Study the Shibushi culture and learn the Kibushi language
2. Work in the school and develop new activities to serve and bless the community
3. Have intentional relationships with neighbours, friends and students you get to know
4. Pray and have fellowship with other believers on the island (e.g. MBBs, African or European believers from the different churches)
How will you actually share the Gospel?
- Share that you are a follower of Jesus as you get to know people. This will help people to know that you are different to them and it may well draw seekers to you in the future.
- Spend time with people who are open to the gospel (people of peace) or at least really value your friendship. Be intentional about your relationships – how much time you spend with them, your conversations and getting to know their wider family. It’s important to reach whole family units rather than just individuals.
- Conversation bridges. Refer to God and your faith as often as possible. This again demonstrates how important your faith is and that it is a part of everyday life. Prepare conversation bridges in advance so that you can introduce Jesus in a natural way.
- Pray for people. When people are sick, tormented by evil spirits or going through tough times offer to pray for them in Jesus name. Use this as a chance to share the gospel and how faith in Christ sets us free.
- Be bold. Invite your friends to read the Bible with you, the approach depends on the type of person (e.g. using the Discovery Bible Study approach in French), or to listen to and or translate a Bible story into Kibushi (Chronological storying approach).
- Key celebrations. Make the most of Ramadan, Eid and other Muslim festivals. Ask questions about why/how it is celebrated and compare them to our own celebrations. Organise meals, parties and other events around Christmas and Easter to let others know that it is important to us and why.
- Discipling and training existing believers to share their faith and encouraging them to retell Bible stories with their family and friends.
- Mobilising the International church in the capital. Through providing training, having prayer and times of fellowship with the church members who have a passion for the island.
Experience & Qualifications
There is a need for new workers from now onwards. Speaking French is vital to being effective long term in Mayotte. Therefore, AIM requires LAMP level 3 French for new workers (European level B1/2). Also, as Mayotte is a French department, access is straightforward for Europeans (EU passport) and no visa is needed. Therefore, it is a strategic location for European workers to serve. That is not to say non-Europeans are unwelcome, there are merely more administrative and financial obstacles.
You will need an English Teaching qualification such as CELTA