In spite of over eighty years of presence, Christianity in Niger, especially in the capital city of Niamey, appears to have had minimal impact. Niamey is still overwhelmingly Islamic with less than a hundred Christian churches or organizations to serve a rapidly growing city of about eight hundred thousand inhabitants. In a unique analysis of the impact of SIM (Serving In Mission, formerly Sudan Inland Mission) on the country of Niger and its capital city Niamey, Barbara Cooper attributes this situation to “the failure of SIM to produce technically trained Christians skilled in the languages of the metropole.”1 Although she focuses on SIM, the oldest missionary agency in the country, this statement can very easily be broadened to most of the early missionary or evangelistic efforts that have been developed in Niamey. Some of Cooper’s key terms in this statement need to be defined, namely “technically trained Christians” and “languages.” The latter refers not only to the linguistic interpretation of the term, but also to the more abstract concept of languages that express the various worldviews that are communicated through stories, symbols, habitual behaviors, and the conceptualizations of their answers to the deepest questions of life. The former expression, “technically trained Christians,” represents the skills that Barbara Cooper was expecting the Niamey Christians to acquire in order to impact their communities. Thus Cooper identifies a lack of transformational focus in the being as well as the doing of Niamey Christians.
1 Barbara Cooper, Evangelical Christians in the Muslim Sahel (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006), 13.