Daniel Lucero, Foursquare Missions International’s (FMI) area missionary for West Africa and Francophone (French-speaking) Nations, got involved in cross-cultural ministry almost 30 years ago. He immediately knew his calling was to the places around the world most un-reached by the gospel. This calling would lead him to a unique focus—the French-speaking world—which the 48-year-old missionary says is among the least-reached people group on Earth.
“There are French-speaking people on every continent,” Daniel told Foursquare.org, noting that the upper estimates of French-speaking people worldwide are 500 million. “Each has their own unique culture, even though they may be linked by a language.”
In Francophone Africa, Daniel oversees Foursquare’s ministry in the nations of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea Conakry, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo. In West Africa, he supervises Foursquare’s work in Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. His ministry is not limited to French-speakers; some of the regions in his area of oversight are English-speaking.
In addition, Daniel is national leader of The Foursquare Church in France. He lives with his wife, Martine, in Lyon, France—the birthplace of cinema historically known as the silk capital of the world, and the nation’s second largest metropolitan area following Paris. The couple has four children, two of whom are young adults studying in the U.S., and two of whom are still at home. Daniel is also “relationally connected” to other French-speaking nations around the world not in the regions he directly oversees, giving him inroads of ministry in places such as the Caribbean, the South Pacific and North Africa.
The spiritual statistics among the nations of West Africa and Francophone Africa are astonishing. In 2009 alone, more than 154,000 people gave their lives to Christ through Foursquare ministry in these two regions. The same year, over 24,000 individuals were baptized in water, and more than 41,000 were baptized with the Holy Spirit. The denomination also added 341 churches, bringing the total number of Foursquare churches and meeting places to 4,683. Other ministries include a Bible college in Nigeria, and 27 Bible institutes—6 in Francophone Africa, and 21 in West Africa.
Such an astounding diversity of people groups represented in such a vast area creates unique ministry challenges. A cookie-cutter approach to reaching people with the gospel simply won’t work.
“French-speaking people are not a dispersed, uniform people group around the world, but a dispersed affinity of cultures that allows access to some of the most under-reached peoples of some 50 nations,” affirms Daniel. “Islam and poverty are major issues in the Southern Hemisphere, while secularism and post-modernism are issues in the Northern Hemisphere.” In fact, he notes, the 7 million French-speakers in Quebec are the most un-reached people group in North America.
Of the 18 countries in Daniel’s region with registered Foursquare works, the majority are “stage one” or “stage two” in the denomination’s four-stage church development model, meaning they are either in the pioneer stage (“stage one”) or are forming leaders and planting churches (“stage two”). Nations on their way to becoming “stage three” (at which point they are nationalized and self-supporting, with an emphasis on church multiplication) include Benin, Cameroon and the Central African Republic. Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria are “stage four” works, meaning they have developed to the point of sending missionaries to other countries.
“My heart is to see others released and empowered,” explains Daniel, “to see the kingdom of God manifested through the entire expression of the entire body of Christ—encouraging, inspiring and intentionally establishing new workers into active service in ministry.”
Abdullah, a man Daniel met who once lay immobilized in a village hut in Senegal, a nation that is 96 percent Muslim, is one example of what happens when the kingdom of God is manifested through obedient followers of Christ. Daniel and his team encountered Abdullah after a conversation with the village chief, where they had expressed their desire to share the gospel with the inhabitants. Upon hearing about Abdullah—who was suffering from a neglected infection that had become gangrenous due to a lack of available medical care—they asked if they could pray for him.
“His leg was rotting off,” Daniel recalls. “Compassion hit us, and we asked if this fatherless, abandoned-to-die man could return with us to the capital city of Dakar for further help. This was a difficult decision for the village, but something had touched them, and the work already done in the region by our workers had also won us favor.”
After two months of proper care, Abdullah fully recovered. He accepted Christ and is part of a Foursquare church in Dakar. A new church now also meets in his village—truly a miraculous phenomenon in the heart of an “un-reached” Muslim nation.
The area missionary notes he has had a lot of support from The Foursquare Church in the U.S. In 2009, short-term missions teams came from churches in California and Washington, helping out with things such as street evangelism, construction and medical work. In September 2010, a team of pastors from the Mid-Atlantic district is coming to Niger and Togo to conduct children’s ministry, evangelism and women’s seminars.
And through the Global Missions Fund, Daniel says they were able to invest last year in training pastors who gathered in Central Africa. Funds also helped with leadership development in the Muslim countries of Senegal, Mali and Guinea of West Africa.
How can those of us in the U.S. pray for West Africa and the Francophone nations? Daniel outlines three points.
“Pray for empowered networking and the collaboration of national leaders between different nations and regions for the advancement of the gospel,” he requests, adding that there is a special conference he and his wife hold every year focusing on French-speaking nations that includes leaders from around the world. This year’s conference will be held October 11-13 at CrossPointe Foursquare Conference Center in Christiansburg, Va., in partnership with the Mid-Atlantic district. (For information and registration, visit www.nationchangers.us.)
“Second, pray for continued advancement into new regions, especially Muslim areas of Africa and works in the Pacific Islands,” Daniel continues. “And third, pray for the advancement of training ‘models’ and ‘institutes,’ both within the local church and at national levels, for the acceleration of the gospel; in this light, we need continued work in the area of translation of good Foursquare material.”
Daniel sees great things ahead.
“I see God continuing to raise up and empower indigenous leaders,” he shares, “and building up a network of strength between French-speaking leaders that goes beyond any physical geographical boundary—boundaries that we have all traditionally accepted as boundaries.”
He also sees a need in our rapidly changing world.
“The extensive breadth of affinity groups, whether they be language, religious, or just dispersed peoples, has changed the world,” he explains. “We need to respond effectively with the gospel. Lines have blurred, and people groups have blended. We need more than ever to adapt our vision and approach to this new reality, as the fabric and mosaic of our world has forever changed.”
For information on helping FMI works around the world—including how to support the Global Missions Fund, a missionary or project, or to donate toward disaster relief, log on to give.foursquare.org. One hundred percent of every dollar given to the Global Mission Fund goes directly to the mission field. FMI’s website also provides detailed information on short-term missions teams.
By: Bill Shepson, a Foursquare credentialed minister and freelance writer in Los Angeles