Reaching the Youth of Senegal
Senegal is a beautiful country on the northwestern coast of Africa. Traditional African tribal heritage, French colonial influence, and Arab religious influence create a meld of culture that is quite unique. Dakar, the capital of this majority-Muslim country, is a crossroads between western Africa and Europe. People from around the world have made Dakar their home, and the Senegalese have welcomed them with “teranga” or hospitality—one of the values they hold most dear. On the streets in Senegal, you can often see groups of young people gathered to share a snack after school or play a game of pick-up soccer. Into this youth culture, the Nascimento Family strives to make known the love and hope of Jesus Christ. Through soccer ministry and teaching English as a second language, the family is reaching the youth at a point of interest with them and their parents. Many of the young men dream of becoming soccer pros and many neighborhood parents desire to increase their children’s chances of success by investing in their education and foreign language learning. Everaldo, a native of Brazil, is so excited to be able to share his passion for soccer with the youth in Senegal. Through SMS: Soccer Ministry for Senegal, the Lord has given him amazing opportunities to share the message of the Gospel. When Everaldo and Lydia initially began holding soccer clinics for the neighborhood kids, they were a bit worried about their ability to communicate well with the young people who speak either French or Wolof. During the first practice, two young Muslim men showed up and began to assist by translating to the kids! Over the course of the next year, they continued to participate and help in the soccer program; they also began to visit the Nascimentos in their home. During these visits, they became close to the family and started asking questions about what the Nascimentos believe. At these opportunities, Everaldo joyously shared with them the message of Jesus. Recently, during a shared cab ride, Everaldo was once again discussing the importance of Christ with one of these young men. As they spoke, this young man declared his faith in Christ stating, “I believe Jesus is my Savior!” The Nascimento Family praises God for the power of the Gospel and the lives that are being changed in Senegal through the relationships God is allowing them to make through soccer and ESL. Each young person they encounter is so precious to Jesus and needs to know that there is hope, peace, and life eternal available to them through Christ. Just as the Scripture declares: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10:13-15 NIV).