A tiny Bible school in a remote part of Niger is having a profound impact for the gospel.
Guescheme Bible School has just two classrooms and one small staff room. The nearest paved road is 20 miles away.
There is a single accommodation block for four families — the other students have to build their own houses — and a small chapel, which doubles as a second classroom. The staff — one couple and three single men — are rarely, if ever, paid. The students, almost all of whom come from subsistence farming households, are meant to pay fees but few do.
That the Bible school exists at all is testimony to the enduring work of missionaries and the local evangelical church. Together, they have created an institution which is turning out trained evangelists and pastors, who are confident in handling the word of God and explaining it to others.
Jonathan Burt (above right), a Serving In Mission worker who has been in Niger with his wife Elaine since the 1980s and helps teach at the school, said: “These evangelists go out from the school and are prepared to live and work in very remote, rural communities. They are doing pioneering work among people who have never heard the gospel.
“There aren’t many Bible schools in Niger and the others tend to produce graduates who want to work in urban areas, where the standard of living is higher. Without our school, the rural population would not hear the gospel.”
The school has produced up to a dozen graduates a year but now might only have four or five. But however many they produce, they are all well-equipped evangelists.
And each one goes out to work on his own, with just the support of his family, as he seeks to plant churches in places where there are, as yet, no Christian believers.
When the school first started in the 1990s, it only operated during the short Nigerien dry season, a time of year when there is less work to do on the land.
Back then, all the students had to build their own accommodation nearby, homes which were often little more than grass huts.
Today, the final year students live in the school accommodation — four two-room, single-storey dwellings. Usually, the husband and wife sleep in one room, the children in the other.
There are plans to build another accommodation block but the school needs to raise funds. They were given enough by overseas supporters to put in the concrete slab floor, but are now looking to raise another £3,500 to build the walls and roof.
The school now offers a four-year course.First-year students come with their families and set up home nearby. They go home for the October harvest and again at Christmas but otherwise are in school full-time.
Jonathan said: “We encourage the students to get other people to do their planting so they can keep studying, but they all go home for the harvest.
“The men usually bring their wives to school with them, so we also teach them the basics of what their husbands are learning. It helps prepare them as couples for a life of ministry.”
The commitment and dedication of students and staff at Guescheme is clear evidence of God’s enduring grace and his love for the people of Niger.
The school may have almost nothing in terms of worldly resources, but it is rich in God’s resources and its gospel impact will continue for years to come through the pastors and evangelists it is producing.
For more Bible teachers to be raised up willing to serve in remote locations like Guescheme.
That the graduates from Guescheme will plant churches in places where no one has heard of Christ.
For God’s resources to be used wisely and for his glory through the work at Guescheme.