Another excerpt from my journal on my 2009 trip to Niger, Africa with Jesus Film Ministries:
Friday, June 19, 2009
Abby, Sheri and I met with a guy at 8 a.m. to talk about getting a dress made for each of us. First we picked a style, and then w went to the market to pick out fabric. Abby and I got blue material and Sheri got green and black. When we returned to the guesthouse we were measured. Our dresses should be done by Tuesday!
We didn’t have to go to the university so we went to the Gran Marche (Grand Market). It was huge and crazy. It was their version of a Wal-Mart, only outside. There were sections for shoes, meat, electronics, jewelry, etc. etc.
For lunch we ate at the Lebanese bakery again. It was fabulous! Most of us had hamburgers, and the fries came ON the sandwich. How weird! We all thought it was pretty funny.
After lunch we went to a few places to buy souvenirs. We did some bargaining, it was fun!
But at 1:30, we had to stop. There was a Muslim “call to prayer,” and since Friday is the Muslim Sabbath, ALL Muslim men participated. All the shops closed and the town fell silent. The crazy, loud and obnoxious town of Niamey stood completely still. It was creepy. We were the only ones walking around (we had no choice but to find our way back to the van). There were HUNDREDS of men praying in the street. And there we were- the American Christians just going about our business. We couldn’t even get into our van because it was surrounded by men on their prayer mats.
We returned to the Catholic Guesthouse to pack up. We didn’t really know what to expect at the new place except that if we wanted air conditioning we had to pay for it. I know I expected the worst. But then we got here and the place is only a few years old. The grounds are all gated and there are lots of security guards. Our guesthouse has two armed guards – Mohammed and Frank. We got a kick out of that- Frank. The place is super clean, modern, and we have an awesome common area for meals and devotions.
Tonight we went to new locations in new groups for the Jesus Film. I was with Kathy, Zac and Don. Our students with us were Solomon and Adam. This time we were in a city neighborhood. MUCH different than the other two places. There was a soccer game going on where we were set up. While we waited for it to end I played with the kids. A few of them knew a little English- I was surprised!
The game ended and we started to set up. Lots of kids helped us and kept yelling, “Cinema!” because they were so excited. Then, just was we were to start there was a “call to prayer.” We were just around the corner from a mosque. The students told us that the neighborhood we were in was a very devout Muslim area. We could tell.
When the “call to prayer” was over, we started the film. There were probably 50 kids there and a few adults. About five minutes into the film, a Muslim woman chased all the kids away! They didn’t want to leave, but she was very scary that they had no choice! There were about 20 people left when she went away. I was very discouraged, and then it got worse. Parents started showing up and very aggressively began removing their children from the crowd. So halfway through the first reel we had only about six people left to watch.
About 20 minutes later, some kids came back and more adults slowly trickled in. Still, I was pretty creeped out because of how angry so many parents were. I could totally understand where they were coming from, though. Can you imagine someone of a different religion coming into your neighborhood and trying to preach it to your kids? You wouldn’t be happy either. I just pray we had a positive impact on someone and that at least one person now has an interest in Christ.