Mariama chose to leave Islam and follow Jesus – and was cut off financially from her family. Thanks to your prayers and support, Open Doors partners provided her with livelihood support and vocations training. Niger has jumped 21 places this year to number 33 on the Open Doors World Watch List, mainly due to increasing violence across the region.
“Before I accepted the Lord, I was living in darkness, knowing nothing. I didn’t know the grace of God. I was involved in dark rituals and other evil things. But by the grace of God, when I got to know about Christ, all the evil things left me like the Word of God has said.”
This is Mariama’s powerful testimony. She’s a Christian from a Muslim background who lives in a small village in Niger, the largest landlocked country in West Africa. Christians form less than 0.5% of the total population, and because of the spreading religious extremism across West Africa, are generally treated as second-class citizens.
But Mariama’s brave choice to follow Jesus came at a price. “I faced a lot of challenges, and my siblings and relatives showed me hatred. They kept asking: ‘Why did you accept this false teaching?’ But they are the ones living in false teachings because I have accepted the grace of God,” she says.
Even though there are abundant natural resources, Niger is considered one of the least developed in the world; it is hard for most Nigeriens to make ends meet. Families survive by pooling resources. But when they turn their backs on Islam, Christians, by implication, also turn their backs on the support of their family and wider community. Mariama was cut off financially.
“I faced a lot of challenges, and my siblings and relatives showed me hatred”MARIAMA
That is why, thanks to your prayers and gifts, Open Doors offers livelihood support and vocational training to Christians like Mariama.
The training includes looking at economics from a Biblical perspective and helping believers to understand the value of saving. It’s often followed by the creation of a joint savings plan, called a self-help group.
Open Doors helps with start-up capital, and then each member weekly puts some money into the account. One or two of them can then borrow from those funds once a month to start a business. Each member has to repay their loans with interest back to the group.
Many Nigerien Christian women have taken part in the training already, and are seeing amazing changes, thanks to you.
Boubacar, another member of the group, explains: “Before I joined this women’s group, I didn’t know how to do business. But thanks to your training, I now know very well how I can make money through business. I started buying and selling clothes. First, just a few clothes, but gradually my business grew. Now I am able to buy clothes in bulk. Instead of buying and selling small amounts, I have become a major supplier. People come to me to buy small amounts of clothes to resell to others.”
“Now we are able to take care of ourselves and our families. We have grown in life… We are grateful to you and to God”LIYATU, VOCATIONS TRAINING RECIPIENT
“When I converted, my relatives hated me so much,” says Sahoura. “But now that they see I make money with my own business, and that I use my money to help them out, now they have stopped causing me problems.”
Liyatu loves church life and singing praises to God. She says, “When we started this group, most of us were not making money. But now we are able to take care of ourselves and our families. We have grown in life… We are grateful to you and to God because He granted you the resources to help us.”
With her portion, Mariama decided to start with small scale farming. “Thanks to your help, we have bought chickens, goats, and cows,” she says. “They have reproduced. Now we have many animals. We use these animals even to help other people to start their own businesses.
“We are able to give tithes and offerings and even extra contributions, all because of your initial support. If you had not helped us, we would have lost our faith, because of our difficult situation. Thanks to your support and teaching we are all still on the right path. Thank you, may God bless you. May the name of the Lord be praised. May God bring peace to our homes and our country and the entire world. God bless you.”
Your support helps persecuted Christians continue to courageously follow Jesus. Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.