AFRICA/NIGER - "I have never regretted converting to Christianity"

Tuesday, 17 May 2022


Dosso (Agenzia Fides) - "It is not easy to be a Christian in Niger today, and even more so after the jihadism fueled by movements such as Al Qaeda or Boko Haram, present in the country", writes to Fides Fr. Rafael Casamayor, priest of the Society for African Missions (SMA), from the Dosso mission. The priest shares the testimony of a Christian who came from Islam and who is now part of the Catholic community of Dosso: "It did not take me long to find Pierre, he is a discreet man, of few words and with an intense interior life. He is a treasure in our mission because he takes us directly to the heart of our faith, the love of God and neighbor".
"I am from Filengué, djerma or songhay, as you prefer - intervenes Pierre - and since I was a child I received a Muslim education. After school I went to the Koranic madrasa where I studied Islamic principles with children and teenagers my age. Already at the end of my adolescence I started working as a welder in a workshop where one day I found some books that had been left on the tables. I picked one up and took it home. I started reading it and since then I have not separated myself from it, it was the New Testament", the man points out. "I loved reading that book, there were stories that touched my heart. I liked to talk about it with some of my co-workers, none of whom were Christians, but they knew a few things. They were stories full of tenderness and closeness to the poorest, but I did not know what they corresponded to in real life, I did not know any Christians. Later I was sent to work in Agadez and there I joined the Christian community. I wanted to know more about the Gospels and the lives of Christians".
"My stay in Agadez was a blessing because of everything I learned and experienced with the very diverse Christian community: there were Beninese, Togolese, Burkinabe, French, Nigeriens. I saw reflected the spirit that I thought I discovered in the Gospels that I read in my adolescence in Filengué. During my years in Agadez, I not only discovered the message of Jesus and a community of reference that helped me live it, but also opened a spiritual path for me that responded to my adolescent dreams that had fed my reading of the Gospels".
The lay missionary concludes his testimony by stating with certainty that he has never regretted converting to the Christian faith, "not even for a single day. What I find difficult to accept is that my children are still Muslims even though I have never forced them to follow in my footsteps". (RC/AP) (Agenzia Fides, 17/5/2022)