Missions, Muslims, and the Jesus Film in The Gambia

The Gambia (MNN) — Are you looking for a way to serve God in missions this summer? Greg Jackson with Jesus Film Project will be leading a two week long mission trip to The Gambia in West Africa from May 18th-June 1st. Applications are still open for the team, and he says it’s a great opportunity for you to put your faith into action by serving and supporting the local Gambian Church’s outreach!

Jackson explains, “We’re going to be visiting different villages and different smaller cities to help plant churches by showing the Jesus Film and then helping with follow-up afterwards.

(Image courtesy of Jesus Film Project)

“Even though The Gambia is in West Africa and it’s an open country, it’s a Muslim-majority country. It’s about 95 or 96 percent Muslim. The Christian population that we know there is about 1.5 percent. So when we bring a team in of anywhere between seven to 12 people to help them share the Gospel, the believers we work alongside are just overjoyed.”

Jesus Film Project sends out about 40 mission trips a year. Jackson helped lead the Gambia mission trip two years ago as well. His thoughts? “What an adventure. I mean, if you haven’t been to Africa, it really gives you a great taste of African culture. The people are so warm and welcoming, but it’s definitely a third-world feel. But as we were here, as I mentioned earlier, we were showing the Jesus Film as one of our strategies.”

Because Gambia is mostly Muslim, on Jackson’s last trip they had to be respectful of the local customs in order to carry out ministry. “We would go to these towns and these villages and we would have to visit with the Mufti — or the Muslim leader, the Muslim mayor of that area — and get his permission first. So we would meet him, we’d bring him some gifts, and of course we’d have to sit lower than he was, that’s all part of the culture. Again, very friendly, but we’d work through the formalities of it.”

The local Mufti gave the team permission to show the Jesus Film, and some of the Muslim mayors and leaders even went to watch. Jackson says one of the Gambian Christians they worked with named *William was formerly a Muslim.

“William was working with us and after we show the Jesus Film, we usually pause it after it gives the invitation to pray to receive Christ, and a local believer will get up and share his testimony and invite his fellow countrymen to come forward. So that’s what William did at this time, he got up and gave the invitation. Now, again, this is a Muslim majority village, so after he said, ‘Would you like to come forward and ask Christ to come into your life?”, something happened that I had never seen before in a Jesus Film showing. The crowd laughed. They laughed at him and some of them pointed and they were just kind of mocking him. And I felt bad because I thought, ‘What a hard situation to be in, especially with his peers.’

(Screen capture courtesy of Jesus Film Project)

“But William was full of the Holy Spirit and he looked at the crowd and he spoke into the mic and he said, ‘You know, I laughed too the first time I heard about Jesus. But then I met Him, and I’m not laughing. I fell in love with Him, and I want to welcome you guys to stick around and talk to us more.’”

Jackson shares, “For two hours, until I think it was midnight or after midnight when everybody finally left, we were in small groups just having these amazing Gospel conversations with people — many of them who have never heard the Gospel. They heard about Jesus, but that’s all they know. It was just incredible to be a part of that and to look into the eyes of these people and share with them about Christ and know that God was having an impact.”

Even after Jesus Film Project’s team has packed up and departed, believers in The Gambia continue ministry and nurture any spiritual seeds that were planted.

“That’s one of the things I think I’m most encouraged about with our mission trips, is we only go where there’s a follow-up strategy involved. That’s why we’re seeing churches being planted, especially in some of the most unreached parts of the world.”

Click here to learn more about Jesus Film Project’s mission trip to Gambia! You can request more information or submit your application to start the process.

Worried about the financial aspect in joining a trip like this? Don’t be! The mission team leaders can act as support coaches who will assist you with things like developing support letters and a fundraising strategy if you can’t pay out-of-pocket. In fact, most of their mission trip participants have to raise support.

Jackson adds, “In that process, you can even say, ‘I don’t know if I can go, but I’d like to pray,’ and the team leader who is leading the trip or trips that you’re interested in would love to connect with you and even send you some email updates. Sometimes even on our live Twitter feed, you can get updates on our trips to be praying for them.”

(Photo courtesy of Jesus Film Project)

So what do you say? Are you feeling the Holy Spirit’s nudge to serve short-term in the Gambian mission field?

“I would encourage you to take a step of faith,” says Jackson. “I know it can be outside of your comfort zone — whether that is the travel or the cross-culture or the financial aspect — but one of the things we see is fear tends to keep people away from the mission of helping to reach the most unreached. [But] when we get there, we find God is already at work and we’re simply picking the fruit of what the Lord has already done. So I want to encourage your listeners and readers to take a step of faith and be used by God to reach the most unreached. Come with us. We’d love to have you!”


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