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Foot Tracks on Sand

A Gifted Couple Reaching the Unreached in Niger

By Lee Hodges

When Ayouba Moussa first contacted Hope Springs about the work that he and his wife Sirleide were doing in Niger I felt this contact was different from the many we receive from time to time. The more I learned, the more I felt that God wanted us to help in some way. Over the next few months, we learned of the great need for a health center in support of the work they were doing with 400 children. When we shared information about this great work and their need for the health center our donors step up and not only funded the construction of the health center, but also the furnishings for the center as well.

The more I learn about Ayouba and Sirleide, the more I see how they are uniquely suited for this work.

Ayouba is Nigerien and comes from a Christian home. In 2007 he entered mission training with (YWAM) Youth With A Mission in the capital city of Niamey, Niger. By 2010 he was added to the staff at the Discipleship Training School. That same year Sirleide moved from her home country of Brazil to serve as a missionary in the city of Niamey. YWAM organized a youth camp for the city of Maradi, a large city almost 700 miles away. Ayouba was selected to do the Discipleship Training at the camp. A friend of Sirleide who was working with the camp invited her to come along.

While at the camp Ayouba and Sirleide became close friends and discussed the great need of his home village of Soura very near Maradi. It soon became obvious they had much in common, as they both had such a strong desire to work with children.

After returning from the camp both Ayouba and Sirleide spent the next 6 months seeking God’s leading and would decide to get married in January of 2011 and then began making their plans to move to Soura. That move would take place early in 2012 with the goal to reach the next generation for Christ.

When the children of Soura and surrounding areas saw the love that this couple had for them, they were drawn to them instantly. There is little to smile and feel good about in a country like Niger where most of the population is Muslim. Islam is a religion of rules and laws requiring legalist obedience without grace. In Islam, hope for heaven is based on how hard you work and there is never any assurance that you will make it. Add to this deep poverty, sickness, and malnutrition where your greatest concern is not what will we eat next week or next month but tomorrow. When these children saw this couple’s love it shined like a beacon in the night. Their smiles and the story of a God who loved them brought hope.

Today Ayouba and Sirleide minister to hundreds of children, often using their meager income to feed and care for those who suffer the most. This is such a devoted couple committed to serving “the least of these” to bring glory to God who brought them together for this work.

Over the years they have built strong relationships not only with the children, and many of them have come to faith in Christ. They have also built strong relationships with many of the parents as well. Even though they have experienced some displeasure from Muslims in their village, this has not deterred them from continuing to work with the children. The parents of the children tell them they see such a difference in their children. They are happy, help around the home. This is opening doors to speak with the parents about Christ and the difference He can make in their lives too. This couple is sowing seeds of faith in the hearts of these children. The older children who have come to faith in Christ are now being discipled to take the message of Christ to other villages.

Henry M. Stanley a British explorer first referred to Africa as the dark continent because there was so much unknown and unexplored about it. Today, much of Africa is still a dark continent for another reason. The Light of Christ is yet to be seen in all its glory. Ayouba and Sirleide are changing that one child at a time.

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