Dispensing meds and administering rapid malaria tests to people in a poverty-stricken village in Africa is not a typical day for Christa Hewett. At home in Mobile, she is a wife, mother to three young kiddos, full-time nurse, and active Mars Hill Church member. But a lifelong passion to do medical missions had her asking the question, “If not now, when?” And in June, she boarded a plane with others in the medical field, including 15 medical students, to serve the people of Senegal.
With her medical knowledge and experience as a mother in tow, Christa arrived in the village of N’dang ready to make a huge impact. But it didn’t take long in the field for her to realize that they didn’t have the resources to turn things around and the cycle of poor health would continue long after she returned home. Christa explains that she had to step back and see the big picture which in this instance was the value in partnering with the local Christian church as well as inspiring a group of doctors in training to serve the poor and underserved.
She also saw the importance in encouraging local Christians who feel isolated from the body of Christ. While Christians are not persecuted in Senegal, they are still in the minority and are surrounded by faithful Muslims.
Religions of Senegal
Senegal is 90% Muslim, with the rest of the pie chart leaning toward Christianity or Animism. Regardless of faith, Senegalese people are extremely spiritual.
“They have very open hearts,” Christa said, “they will invite Christians into their homes and will sincerely listen to what you have to say.”
Christa says that as a spiritually open people, they are more receptive to presentations of the gospel than many Americans.
“Our group would tell them we came across the world to help you because we want to help heal your body, but there is a God who can heal your soul,” Christa said.
One of the most meaningful encounters Christa had in Senegal was with a local Christian pastor named Cheikhna (pronounced Check-nuh). He grew up in a wealthy Muslim family and everything was looking good for his life until he made the choice to follow Christ. His family gave him the ultimatum of having a paid education, family, and an inheritance, OR Jesus.
Given this high stakes choice, Cheikhna chose Jesus. He was immediately destitute, orphaned and homeless, all at the age of 14.
Christa heard many stories like Cheikhna’s; testimony after testimony of people who grew up Muslim and converted to Christianity.
“They gave up everything for their faith,” Christa said. “It’s incredibly humbling. I realized it’s a privilege that God is allowing us to be a part of this work. He doesn’t need us- He lets us be a part of this beautiful story.”
All these months later, Christa looks back on her trip with fondness, but also a determination to continue serving the Lord in the mission field right here in Mobile.
“I can share love by meeting needs as a nurse here in Mobile, just like I did thousands of miles away in Africa.”
***How can you serve the people of Senegal from Mobile?***
Pray for Christians married to Muslims. From what Christa was told, it is not permitted to hurt Christians, but she heard stories of converts having their wives and children taken from them.
Pray for more missionaries to leave the comforts of the capitol for the poverty of rural areas.
Pray for support for children ministers. There are people willing to serve and lead but they are quickly being overburdened and burned out as they are rarely given a sustainable salary.
Pray for discernment and peace as radical Muslim countries are pouring money into Senegal in hopes of radicalizing it.