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Missionary Spotlight – Christian literature in French West Africa

March 1998

‘Europresse-Afrique’ is an independent, indigenous organization based in Gagnoa, Ivory Coast. It is closely associated with ‘Europresse-France’, which is located in Chalon-sur-Saône, France. Both organizations were set up under EP Missionary, the missionary wing of Evangelical Press. Two men are employed full time in France, Jean-Claude Souillot and Marc Demory, and two in Ivory Coast, Paul N’Goran and Jean Katla. At the moment there are close to eighty Europresse titles available, comprising Reformed Christian books and booklets in French. These are distributed throughout the French-speaking world. Concerning the work in West Africa Paul N’Goran makes the following observations:

Although it is still the case that many people in French-speaking Africa are illiterate, and those who can read are not often interested in serious books, Europresse-Afrique continues to propagate the gospel through books, booklets, tracts and the quarterly paper, Echos de la Vérité. There are many areas without true preachers of the gospel, and other areas where they are not permitted to go. The advantage of literature is that it can penetrate even into these areas, taking with it the message of the gospel of grace.

Another advantage is that the reader can spend time studying the message as he reads and meditates on it without external influences. We continually receive letters from people who, while opposing the gospel of grace, appreciate what they have read. Some, indeed, have come to understand the truth through reading this literature and studying the Scriptures.

Many open doors

At the moment Europresse-Afrique is experiencing considerable progress in the distribution of books in West Africa. Pastor Jean Katla has been travelling around the country, going from town to town and visiting schools, offices, Bible colleges and local pastors, to make the books known. During these visits he has also been able to preach in some churches and have many personal talks with pastors and people about Christ and the gospel. There are many open doors in the French-speaking countries of West Africa for the spreading of the gospel message through literature. Visits have already been made by the leaders of EP-Afrique to several such countries in order to establish chains of distribution. There are plans to visit other countries too.

As well as books, EP-Afrique makes available cassettes provided by the radio broadcast, Echos de la Vérité, and other teaching cassettes which have been recorded in West Africa. God has been pleased to use these cassettes to speak to many.

At the headquarters of Europresse-Afrique, in Gagnoa, Ivory Coast, there is a small library and reading room where anyone can go to read a recommended book or listen to a cassette. Some have come to a knowledge of the truth through this means, but others go away preferring to remain in their false religion.

A common language

All the books published by Europresse are in French. While it is true that there are many people in certain areas of West Africa who cannot speak French, almost all the schooling is in French. Thus all who have been to school and can read have been exposed to the French language. It is for this reason that EP-Afrique concentrates on French, which is still the official language of almost all the former French African colonies.

When books are given away free of charge they are not usually appreciated or even read, so EP-Afrique sells its books. But because of economic conditions, it does so at greatly reduced prices compared to the same books in Europe. It is encouraging to see the interest of those who are prepared to save for several weeks in order to be able to purchase a book.

There is much to encourage us at the moment. Sound Reformed literature is penetrating into remote corners of the French-speaking world and the Lord is doing his work. Much remains to be done, but doors for the gospel are open. We realize that there may be many discouragements along the way, but we know that the Lord will do his work in his own way and for his glory.