Global Ministries Missionary David Makobo, who serves as an agriculturalist with the Senegal United Methodist Mission in Dakar, stands near a scarecrow on property that is producing nutritious crops.
A Senegal Lesson – Dependence on God
By David Phipps
David Phipps is the In Mission Together coordinator for Senegal Mission Initiative. In this blog, he shares about his first visit to Senegal in July, gleaning practical lessons of strength, perseverance and dependency on God.
It was my first official trip to Senegal, a French-speaking country in West Africa, as a Global Ministries’ In Mission Together representative. I arrived early so I could have time to casually visit with the United Methodist leaders, missionaries, and pastors. Later, I participated in more formal annual conference meetings and ceremonies.
Over 90 percent of Senegalese are Muslims, and their faith is not just a hood ornament. Islam is their engine, their passion. When a Senegalese becomes a follower of Jesus, it impacts their family, employment, and community.
Of the stories I heard from Senegalese who chose to follow Jesus the transformation usually occurred because, they said, Christians showed love that was uncommon, sacrificial, and unearned. One pastor explained that his congregation showed love by going door-to-door and connecting with families every week, and by praying for their community.
United Methodist congregations in Senegal believe in and practice prayer. They realize that there are forces outside their control, and that prayer has an impact on what happens spiritually. Their dependence is on God.
Producing crops in areas with soil
My lodging in Senegal was just a 10-minute walk from the district office. At 9:00 a.m. it is already hot and the wind is nearly constant. This helps tame the heat, but also delivers an unexpected foe—sand. Sand and dust are everywhere—in houses, cars, and in my nose and eyes. Street crews periodically shovel and sweep the sand off paved streets, but it’s not uncommon for cars to get stuck in the deep sand.
During my stay, I met with David Makobo N’Shikala a missionary with Global Ministries, who is from the Democratic Republic of Congo and serving as an agriculturalist with the Senegal United Methodist Mission, based in Dakar.
He showed me his agricultural project and stated that he wants to help United Methodist congregations raise crops that can be sold for profit and go toward ministry efforts to help others. This is a great example of what In Mission Together 50/50 Partnership Covenant promotes.
The areas that have soil have been farmed with the same crop year after year. This depletes the nutrients in the soil reducing the chances of a good crop. David is working to reverse that effect and rebuild the soil, a process that may take years.
“I’m changing my tune.”
This trip has been a link in a chain of events that I hope changes me permanently. For years, I depended on planning, strategy, preparation, and hard work to yield good fruit. I even thought that way regarding spiritual things. I'm changing my tune. In the past, I marginalized God's part in my steps to success. I thanked him when things were going well. I pleaded with him when things were going bad. Neither of those things are wrong to do. However, I didn't depend on him, and that's wrong.
In Senegal, I saw people who depend on God every day. I saw people who have lived with challenges their whole lives that I don't believe I could handle for two weeks. They have what I so desperately lack, and I have something they may lack. But, together, we, the body of Christ, can meet each other’s needs.
Be a Partner!
In Mission Together is a global partnership network available to equip your conference, district or church for transformational partnerships in mission in the U.S. and around the world.
Learn more about In Mission Together 50/50 Partnership Covenant and how you can partner with the Senegal Mission Initiative.