SAH, Benin (BP)–Two children with flaming red hair — and fearful faces — cautiously approached a doctor inside the mobile clinic.
Like many Mokole people in Benin, west Africa, these children had never been treated by a physician. And as children of the local sorcerer, they had never heard about Jesus Christ. But by the end of the day, the children had both their bodies and souls treated by the Christian medical team.
A Southern Baptist volunteer medical team from Florida recently shared the gospel with many people who would not normally hear it, including the sorcerer’s children and eight elders of a local mosque. They treated more than 1,100 people, and were the first volunteer medical team to work among the Mokole.
More than 58,000 Mokole people live in northern Benin. Most practice either animism or Islam, with a Muslim mosque in almost every Mokole village. Traditionally, the Mokole have shown indifference and wariness towards Christianity.
The team first traveled to the village of Sah, where the mayor’s family was among 488 people treated.
“The medical missions ministry has increased our level of acceptance,” said Sam Parham, a Southern Baptist International Mission Board missionary from Gainesville, Fla. “And in the Mokole culture, acceptance is the key first step.”
The team went to Pede, home of the only active evangelical church among the Mokole. Upon arrival, the volunteers realized the building they were to use for the clinic was unsanitary. They went on a hunt for another site, and soon located a newly built pharmacy owned by a local mosque. Although the elders of the mosque had advertised that the pharmacy would be closed to Christians, they allowed the medical team to use the facilities. The elders even visited the clinic to see the doctors.
“As each leader came to each checkpoint in the clinic, they thanked us profusely for helping their village,” missionary Kathy Parham said. “We in turn thanked them and told them we were in their village because we love God and care about their people.”
Missionaries were able to share with seven of the elders tracts written in their language. The eighth was a Fulani man who asked for a tract in his language, too. “We didn’t have any, but we promised him we’d locate one if possible and get it to him,” Parham said.
“Many doors have been opened in both villages and hearts touched. We have yet to see all that God will do through this volunteer mission ministry.”