Kris Kappler was hesitant to spend 20 days in a country in West Africa, especially because he needed a translator to communicate in French.
“God provided a translator,” he said. “And he provided a 20-day experience which was unparalleled.”
Kris and his wife Sarah had served in Central Asia with their family for 11 years as One Mission Society missionaries before they were introduced to a ministry opportunity in Africa during an OMS conference. During the five months that Kris prayed about this option, he felt a growing sense that God was calling him and his family to leave their home in Central Asia and go to Africa. So, he responded to this need and answered the call.
Now, as the international regional director for Africa, Kris and his family live in South Africa. Kris’ ministry is to serve and supervise OMS church-planting ministries and OMS missionaries across the continent, which includes traveling to many different countries. During April and early May, Kris visited several villages and leaders in this West African nation to introduce himself, to observe what work was being done, to see what relationships were being built, and to spread the Gospel message through different programs. Throughout that trip, he saw God working in the hearts of the villagers and leaders.
Most people in West Africa speak French, so in order to help Kris with the language barrier, God provided a translator for him as he traveled. In total, he and his team visited 40 villages. These villages, Kris said, are the focus of their ministry in Africa because they tend to be neglected areas. Throughout these villages, Kris saw the poor and, as he said, “people outside of places you don’t normally go.”
In many villages they visited, there was a chief they first had to meet in order to have access to the people. Many chiefs are Christian, but not all of them. Because so much falls on the chief’s approval, Kris said, it is a critical position in any village and respecting the position is very important. Once a chief gave approval for Kris and his team to be there, they had freedom to preach and speak in a village. In one village, one where a church is present, the chief said during a meeting that he was thankful that the church was in the village and hoped that Kris and his team would continue to do what they were doing. Looking back on that experience, Kris remarked that God is touching that village.
In West Africa, the population of Muslims is high, but God is at work in the people’s hearts in the villages. Kris recounts visits to some villages where Bible studies were held for the children. In many instances, Kris said, the parents were Muslim, yet they still let their children listen to the Christian messages. In one particular village, at least 80 children attended a study.
Overall, Kris and his team held two training seminars, baptized 45 people, and ordained 15 well-qualified pastors during their visits to the 40 villages in Senegal. Kris is thankful for the opportunities he had to learn and meet the people in these villages, as well as see the churches that are being created within these Muslim populations.
Looking forward to the future, Kris wants to continuously develop relationships with the supervisors across Africa, learn French to communicate better with people, and to grow relationships with people where he attends church in South Africa.
“When it comes right down to it, communication is critical,” Kris added.
Kris also prays that God will send more missionaries to Africa. The need goes beyond critical. He wants to see not only foreign missionaries respond to this need but also African missionaries as well. And when more missionaries serve in Africa, he continued, there are also more people supporting these missions both in prayer and finances.
Please pray for Kris and for his team in Africa as they reach out to the people of this great continent, especially the population in the neglected villages. Pray that more churches can be planted, that people of peace can become bridges to some of the village chiefs, and that these relationships in the villages can grow stronger over time.
By Jess Mitchell, Communications Intern