Strikes and riots have occurred every year for over a decade at Niamey University in Niger. In the West African country, students and teachers have protested or boycotted at various times throughout the school year, fighting against housing conditions or unpaid government scholarships. At Niger's only university, some of the protests had turned violent and closed the campus for several days at a time.
But the protests didn't stop 2 new graduates from volunteering to spend a year in Niamey working with Campus Crusade for Christ.
Aboubakar Dieudonné and Helga Jam came from their home country of Cameroon, also in West Africa, to talk with college students and tell them about Christ. Prior to the volunteers' visit, only about one in every 200 students would accept Christ.
"We note in some students the desire to know more about the person of Jesus Christ," says Aboubakar, "but they are confronted with difficulties like parental constraints, and even a total rejection by the society."
As volunteers with the ministry, Aboubakar and Helga raised money for food and travel, then their lodging was paid for by the ministry in Niger.
The volunteer strategy had worked well in the neighboring country of Chad the year before. Two volunteers were able to give a fresh start to the ministry in Chad, and their influence brought in 20 new volunteers to work with college students the following year.
In Niger, Aboubakar and Helga, along with 2 full-time staff members, were able to talk with nearly 400 students in the spring semester, and 57 of them indicated a decision to trust Christ, a dramatic increase from previous years. Many of them began actively learning about their new faith.
"God is using [the volunteers] in a very encouraging manner," says Venance Sovoessi, leader of Campus Crusade in Niger, "there is hope for the campus ministry in Niger."
Also that year, for the first time in over a decade, the school year passed without protests or riots.
Next year, Cameroon is planning to send volunteers to another West African country, the small country of Benin.