AFRICA/NIGER - Basic Christian communities, a simple tool for proclaiming the Gospel

Tuesday, 14 February 2023


Dosso (Agenzia Fides) - "I would like to tell you about our basic Christian communities which, it seems, normally operate in all the missions of the diocese except in Dosso", writes Father Rafael Casamayor from Niger. "We left last year with great commitment and determination. Every fortnight a group of Christians from a village meet in one of their homes to pray, read the Gospel and simply pray, commenting, exchanging ideas, experiences, talking about Christian life, supporting each other in a Muslim society that generally does not make it easy to express oneself" (see Fides, 7/1/2022).
"It is not an easy path, since we all have very different points of view - adds the priest of the Society for African Missions - but we are slowly managing to 'break the ice'. People seem happy to be able to exchange viewpoints, sharing and being in each other's company".
The diocese of Niamey has created "basic Christian communities" (CCB) as a method and instrument of evangelization and organization of parish life. “In Dosso there are five and they correspond to as many sectors of the city. The diocese has been doing this for a few years. An attempt was also made in Dosso but it seems that it did not give the expected result, now we are trying again,” says Father Casamayor.
"This method and organization of Christian life comes to us from Latin America and has found its echo in several African countries with considerable success. I had the opportunity to use it when I was on mission in Banikani, Benin, to launch it in Gaya and now in Dosso."
Our Christian community is quite heterogeneous, most are immigrants of different ethnicities from Benin, Togo or Burkina, and although many of them were born here, they keep their ties and their spirit rooted in their origins. In Niger, explains the missionary, most workers, blacksmiths, masons, carpenters, mechanics, are Beninese and live on unimaginable sacrifices. The rest is secondary for them. However, by insisting, encouraging in a thousand ways and showing patience and humor whenever possible, they seem to "adapt", to make the sign of the cross... The other day, we spoke of the Gospel of the previous Sunday, of the beatitudes: "Blessed are the poor...those who weep...those who hunger and thirst for justice"...and immediately we stopped at the persecuted. Father, Abel, a good blacksmith who presides over the community, told me, we are persecuted because we are Christians, because we don't pray, we don't fast, because we are pagans. That's what they say, it bothers them that we are not Muslims and they try to convert us at all costs by offering us work, business, promising us gold and anything that comes to mind". "It's true, adds another, but not all of them, there are those who who respect us, those who understand our way of living the faith and some even call themselves hypocrites.
It is not easy to be a Christian in Niger, especially after the growing influence of jihadist movements or the burning of churches in January 2015. "We find the development of grassroots Christian communities very positive, where Christians find support, solidarity, encouragement and even joy when they meet with their families, different families, and share their faith.” (RC/AP) (Agenzia Fides, 14/2/2023)