Feature

A Church’s Vision

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Around 1990 the Burkina Alliance mission office in downtown Bobo-Dioulasso was entrusted to the Burkina Alliance Church in exchange for a piece of property in the Colma neighborhood of the city. It was an equitable trade: Church leaders were grateful for a more prominent location in the center of town while mission leaders were grateful for a quieter location on the outskirts.

Colma’s Vision

As soon as mission leaders moved into the new compound, they were awakened by the calls to prayer from the towers of Burkina’s majority religion. There were several of these houses of worship in the neighborhood but no churches—so the mission leaders began praying that one would be established in Colma. Before long, a cell group from Central Alliance Church began meeting in Colma weekly for fellowship and prayer.

Finally, in 1999, church services began in the courtyard of a family named Zios. The Colma Alliance Church may have been small, but the people were committed. They organized evangelistic nights, showed the JESUS film and shared the gospel with their neighbors and friends. Some of the outreach recipients joined the church and were baptized.

Soon the makeshift building in the Zios’ courtyard was full. As the church grew, the leaders began to pray. They also told the local mayor of their need, requesting enough property for a church, school and youth center. In 2006, their request was granted: the church was given a huge, 12-acre site just down the road from the Zios’ courtyard.

People in Burkina Faso and in the United States gave generously, church members did their part and a non-Alliance Korean worker made a large contribution toward a new church. Church members and Alliance global staff worked together to roof the modest building. By the end of 2007, the Colma Alliance Church was worshiping in its own building.

But this was only the first of many phases the members envisioned. They began to collect funds to build a pastor’s house next door. Giving sacrificially, they never once called on the mission for help. By summer 2012, the new parsonage was finished and ready for Pastor David Toé and his family.

A Christian School

The Colma Alliance Church also envisioned a Christian school. Thanks to many generous donors, a three-classroom building was finished on the other side of the property in September 2008, and Maranatha Primary School (MPS) opened its doors in time for the new school year. In an effort to build gradually and well, MPS began with just one kindergarten teacher and 13 students. The following year, MPS added another teacher and kindergarten class. Enrollment grew to 37 students: 14 first graders and 23 kindergartners. When the second grade class was added in 2010, all three classrooms were filled, with 79 total students.

Thanks to generous donations, another three-classroom building was completed in 2011, enabling MPS to continue to add another teacher and class during each of the next three school years. When the 2013–2014 school year commenced this past October 1, all six primary classes were buzzing with a total enrolment of 222 students! In a country with one of the lowest literacy rates in the world, these students—from all religious backgrounds—are learning to read and write and are being introduced to Jesus.

In Burkina Faso, Christian schools are popular because of the smaller classroom size and more-rigorous discipline. A couple of years ago I read about a public school in the same Colma neighborhood that had enrolled 250 students in the kindergarten class with just one teacher! MPS limits class size to 50 students. The teachers are Christians and are carefully recruited.

Next year MPS hopes to add a middle school so that children can continue receiving a Christian education on the same campus. Around $70,000 will be needed to construct a four-classroom building (for sixth through ninth grades) at the back of the property. Additional funds will also be needed for an office, library and soccer field.

Convinced that Christian schools are one of the best ways to make a long-term impact in Burkina Faso, Church and Mission leaders have a vision to reach many more students for Christ. Since MPS opened its doors, Burkina Alliance churches have founded eight new primary schools. The Burkina government has been supportive, offering land for many of these projects. Land has already been procured in the towns of Hounde, Mangodara, Orodara and Tougan with the plan of opening Christian secondary schools in each. The opportunities are endless but the resources so inadequate! Please pray for the Lord’s provision as we continue to partner with the Burkina Alliance Church to reach and disciple students for Jesus.

A Youth Center

A few years after MPS was founded, Compassion International rented a classroom for their office and began sponsoring students. Every Thursday more than 250 neighborhood children fill Colma Alliance Church for Bible teaching games and a nutritious meal, all of which is supervised by church members under the watchful eye of Pastor Toé. As Compassion has grown and expanded, they have been able to construct their own office complex nearer to the church building.

To fulfill its vision of reaching older students, Colma Alliance Church is partnering with the Burkina Alliance Youth and West Africa Alliance Youth to establish a youth center and “tabernacle” on the far side of the property. A library, computer lab and youth offices are planned. The tabernacle, nearing completion, will enable the youth to host large rallies, seminars and mission conferences.

A Growing City, Growing Needs

Like many other African cities, Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso’s second largest city, is expanding in every direction. A 2012 census indicated that the population has doubled in the past decade, surpassing 1 million. Every September students from all over western Burkina Faso arrive in Bobo-Dioulasso to pursue their educational dreams.

In November 2013, the Kwa Church invited me to look at a property where they hope to build a daughter church. The following month the Sarafalao Alliance Church broke ground for a new Christian elementary school. Other Alliance churches are also developing a vision to reach new neighborhoods and the growing student population for Christ. Pray that they too will realize their visions!

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