Finding Family in Senegal

BMC Student Teaches English to Senegalese Muslims

In the small North African nation of Senegal, approximately 95% of the population are Muslims. The half-formed, dusty capital city of Dakar is well-known for its mosques, which preside as the centers of society. Christian influence in Senegal is next to none and the need for long-term missionaries is dire. Senegal’s Islamic culture makes it an incredibly difficult field for missionaries today.

A BMC senior named Hailey traveled to Dakar last summer to work as an English teacher in one of the city’s learning centers. In Senegal, as in many developing nations, the English language is a valuable commodity. The Senegalese people are also known for their hospitality, and Hailey spent countless hours helping them practice English and having spiritual conversations.

“At first I felt like I had to be more prepared for these conversations than I was,” Hailey said. “But that is not true. God will work in you and through you no matter how much you know.”

Joys and Struggles on the Mission Field

During her stay, Hailey came to love Senegalese people and their culture. She spent many days visiting homes in order to “take attaya,” which is spending many hours brewing a pungent tea and engaging in conversation with friends. Hailey used these opportunities share Bible stories. Hailey and her teammates developed such close relationships with some of their Senegalese friends that they dubbed them their “Senegalese family.”

While Hailey came to love the welcoming nature of Senegal’s culture, she also began to understand the struggles missionaries face there. She explained that because of how family-oriented the Senegalese people are, converting to Christianity from Islam is extremely difficult for them. For most people in Senegal, becoming a Christian means losing their families, their jobs, and their reputations. While they may not be directly persecuted, they face being outcast from society.

Hailey spent over three hours in discussion with one of her Islamic students, Abdullah, who could not accept the entire Bible or the “Christian God.” Hailey was thrilled when he agreed to consider some Scripture verses. At their next meeting, however, she felt quite frustrated at the result of their conversation. Abdullah told her he had come to his own version of the truth—that “Allah and the Christian God are one and the same.”

Hailey used Abdullah’s story to explain that reaching the Muslims of Senegal is a tough, and often unrewarding mission. The journeyman missionaries working in Dakar for over three years have not yet seen a single convert. However, Hailey pointed out that the difficulty of this mission field means that the need for the Gospel is that much greater. She said that, whether the missionary sees converts or not, reaching the Senegalese people is worth it.

With a huge smile, Haley said, “Be prepared to look ridiculous and love it anyway.”

Learn More about Summer Missions

The deadline for summer mission applications is November 27th. For more information contact Traci Moser in the BSU at tmoser@bmc.edu.