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Parishes in the Sahel

2005 - Ecumenical visit at the church in Niamey, Niger:

Thirty years ago, Christians mostly from Togo, but also from Ghana, Cameroon and Côte d'Ivoire founded a prayer group. As refugees, but also as teachers or small entrepreneurs, they or already their parents had left their homes and settled in Niamey, the capital of Niger. Their common wish was to celebrate the church service in their own language and church tradition. Very soon, they founded the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of the Republic of Niger (EEPRN).

"But it is very difficult to insure the cohesion, the theological work without outside help", thinks Luther Degbovi, Synod Clerk of the Togolese Church. "That is why we tried to send from time to time pastors to Niamey at least for the religious holidays like Easter and Christmas, so that the Christians were able to celebrate the Holy Communion and baptisms." The parishes grew and also took on counselling tasks and tasks of pastoral care. For example, they regularly visit two prisons. They bring soap, medication and clothes and they pray together. In the village of Kongou a little pre-school with a supply teacher has been established with the help of the Evangelical Church. For the youths of the EEPRN, a goat-raising program was initiated teaching them the basics of animal keeping and helping thus to develop a perspective for their livelihood.

The parish tries to get collections and donations through great commitment - meanwhile there are four choirs and a little choir of trombones – in order to organize their social and spiritual life.
But Luther Degbovi is sure: "As joyful as the spirit of this small church in Niger is -  they still need our support". "It starts with an own building. For the time being they hire a house for the church services, but, of course, it would be nice to have their own place." At such a place the social and political development activities could be coordinated and educative programs could be offered for those who are interested. According to Degbovi, the Togolese Church plans to send a pastor to Niger for a permanent stay, "at best a person who knows about development." The upcoming generation as well shall be trained theologically. A young man from Niger has already been chosen for a one-year internship in Togo. But they are still looking urgently for a scholarship to pay the theological studies in Porto-Novo / Benin that shall follow the internship.


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