ABWE’s hospital ministries are strategically located to draw in some of the least-reached peoples in the world.
The phrase “going to unreached people groups” typically brings to mind images of pioneering missionaries hacking through jungles with machetes, smuggling Bibles across borders, or traversing mountain ranges in harsh conditions.
But oftentimes in reaching unreached people groups (UPGs), missionaries spend more time trying to creatively go to their physical location and not necessarily on how they will draw the people in spiritually once there.
ABWE specifically built the Hospital of Hope (HOH) in northern Togo with this in mind. The medical evangelistic ministry was strategically placed to show the love of Christ to patients from Muslim UPGs in the surrounding area, including the Fumo.*
The Fumo represent one of the largest and most widespread ethnic groups in all of Africa, with nearly 38 million people living across 18 different countries. Historically a nomadic people, the Fumo who live near HOH are primarily pastoral, herding cattle and other livestock. They typically reside on the outskirts of Togolese towns, where the wide spaces are more favorable for tending animals.
The Fumo reside in basic dwellings on the outskirts of town. They live off the land with their livestock.
“ABWE has been praying for the Fumo for years, even before a Togo North Team existed,” said Ron Washer, ABWE Executive Director for Africa.
ABWE missionaries first made contact with the Fumo at Hôpital Baptiste Biblique but found it difficult to witness to them, since the Fumo did not speak French or any local dialects.
After HOH was completed in 2015, God directed a Fumo Christian from a nearby country to join the hospital as a chaplain. His work and cultural knowledge have helped to build bridges among the Fumo. HOH also hired Fumo nurses, security guards, and interpreters to better communicate with Fumo patients.
“By 2018, there were already a few Fumo believers at HOH when we arrived,” said Sean*, ABWE missionary doctor at HOH. He and his wife came to HOH after being encouraged by Todd DeKryger, former chief of staff who died from Lassa Fever in 2016, to consider using their gifts to minister to the Fumo.
Sean assists at the Fumo Center near hospital grounds. The facility acts as a place where Fumo can learn about God and the Bible, participate in discipleship, and be taught how to read and write in French and in their own local language. The Fumo chaplain also lives at the center with his family and often facilitates spiritual conversations with any Fumo who visit.
Sean also serves in a local house church and in Bible studies among the Fumo.
Recently, a group of Fumo believers were baptized, marking a historic moment in missions.
“It’s the first Fumo baptisms among ABWE missionaries,” said Sean. “I don’t know if there’s ever been Fumo baptisms before in Togo.”
The significance was not lost on one of Sean’s colleagues, a Togolese national, who said to Sean, “Doctor, if you were to have told me 10 years ago that there would be a baptism among the Fumo, I would have said that you were crazy.”
Since the Fumo are an oral culture, putting a Bible in their hands is not necessarily the most effective way to communicate the gospel to them. So, Sean and the team fundraised for audio recorders with Bible narrations on them in the Fumo language.
A woman from the Fumo tribe is baptized after coming to the saving knowledge of Christ. This is the first Fumo baptism that we know of in the entire country.
The campaign received more than $12,000. According to Sean, the donations will go beyond the needs of the Fumo and toward other ministry projects too.
The team continues their efforts to reach other UPGs and prays that God will raise up more laborers who will take the gospel to those who have not yet heard.
*Names changed for security purposes.
About the Author
Loren Skinker serves as a communication specialist with ABWE and managing editor for Message Magazine. He graduated from Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in communications and English.