By Marcus Rowntree
DAKAR, Senegal (BP)—The Muslim religious leaders are upset. It’s a good sign.
They aren’t angry that Southern Baptist missionary Moses Mivedor is showing a biblical film to several hundred Muslims. They are frustrated that he turned it off so soon.
“Every time I come, they are excited to see [the movies],” Mivedor said.
In a Senegal village without electricity or running water, Mivedor’s generator-powered movie projector is a hit. He is harnessing the World Cup mania that has swept through Africa in an effort to connect with villagers. The outreach is already showing results.
“Almost everyone is either watching it on television or listening to it on the radio,” Mivedor said of the soccer tournament. “Everything else is an interruption.”
That gave him an idea for reaching these people with the Gospel.
“Seeing [the villagers’] lifestyle close up, without power or running water, cut off from the outside world, the idea came to me to bring my generator out and show the World Cup games,” he said. “I wanted to see how it might help me build more relationships and gain more opportunities to share.”
Mivedor from Kentucky and his wife, Beth, from Oklahoma, live among the Futa Toro people who, like 94 percent of Senegalese, are Muslims. The Futa Toro are a devout people who have a genuine desire to worship God but do not know Jesus as Savior, Mivedor said.
“They do everything to try to earn God’s favor, which we know is impossible,” he said.
Mivedor put his ministry plan into action. He beamed prerecorded World Cup games on a white bed sheet for two days. It was an instant success, with up to 1,000 people coming from nearby villages. After the games, he showed Bible-based films, which nearly everyone stayed to watch.
“There’s really nothing else to do in the village, and we are literally the biggest show in town,” he said.
The Muslim religious leaders were pleased with the films, which portrayed the life of Joseph and the Book of Genesis, stories familiar to Muslims. There was one brief moment, however, that caused a stir in the crowd.
Mivedor stopped the film about15 minutes into the showing “because it had rained earlier that day, and the termites were swarming me because of the light coming from the computer and projector,” he said.
The excitement generated by showing the World Cup games and Bible films has brought unprecedented openness among the villagers, who include Pulaar-speaking Futa Toro and a different ethnic group, the Wolof.
“Before, whenever I would go to the village, only the Pulaar speakers would come greet me,” Mivedor said. “Now the Wolof members of the community have started asking me to learn Wolof as well. This gives me more opportunities to know the rest of the village and share about my relationship with Christ.”
The Mivedors are now friends with the village chief and his son, Yaayaa.* Initially, Yaayaa wasn’t open to spiritual topics but is now reading a copy of the New Testament the Mivedors gave him.
“He has been asking questions, and we can tell he is really thinking about what he is reading and hearing,” Mivedor said.
The Mivedors believe if Yaayaa and his father accept the Gospel, it will open the door for many others to follow.
Mivedor plans to round out this outreach when the World Cup ends July 11 with a bold move that could bring many Muslims to Christ.
“After the last game, I will be showing a movie on the life of Jesus in their [Pulaar] language. And at the end of that movie, there is a clear presentation of the Gospel with an invitation,” he said.
“So please be praying for that day.”
* Name changed
Marcus Rowntree is a summer intern for the International Mission Board.