In 1988 a group of British guys working with the church in Burkina Faso, West Africa, launched a mobile village evangelism ministry. Named Project Javelin because Joshua was commanded by the Lord to hold up his javelin toward Ai with the words: “for into your hand I will deliver the city” (Joshua 8:18), the initiative was conceived to focus the attention of the national church on the unreached tribes of the north of Burkina Faso.
A former military truck was painted cream and equipped with sound and projection equipment. A team of local pastor-evangelists accompanied by several ex-pats traveled on month-long programs of visits to areas of the north of the nation. Spending several days in a series of villages where the good news of Jesus was unknown the team shared media such as the Jesus Film, along with music and preaching. Prayers were said for sick people and in some cases practical assistance was provided as needed.
Over five years the experience of the project was amazing, with many new communities of Christians coming into being. The majority of these were among the predominant tribal groups, however and perhaps inevitably, young evangelists were exposed to the reality of unreached tribal groups such as the Fulani, Tuareg and Songhai. Some of these subsequently moved to the north to learn the languages and cultures of these people and share the gospel.
One of the British guys who was involved with Project Javelin moved to the province of Oudalan and began to learn the Fulani language. Twenty years later he has developed a ministry that touches many of the small communities spread through the North-Eastern part of the nation. In 1992 he knew of only two believers among the 200,000 local population. By 2007 there were 16 believers, many of whom he had personally discipled. By March of 2013 there were over 80. Many of these later converts had been discipled by young Burkinabe evangelists who had in turn been trained for cross-cultural ministry by him.
During the years subsequent to the initial church planting activity of Project Javelin a partnership between a Burkinabe agency that nurtures development of infrastructure through the church, and the American ministry, International Cooperating Ministries, was established. This has enabled church buildings to be constructed across the nation for more than 100 congregations. A proportion of these are in the northern regions specifically targeted by Project Javelin evangelists. Also a ministry center including a church, a conference center, an orphanage and school have been constructed just outside the capital city of Ouagadougou.
During the last year Project Javelin has been restarted under the leadership of one of the Burkinabes who trained with the team many years ago. With the blessing of the leadership of the national Assemblies of God, which happens to have in some of its most senior positions two of the men who, as young pastors, helped initiate the project twenty-five years ago, a project for multiple truck-based teams is planned.
During recent months some initial expeditions took teams of African evangelists into the North to present similar programs to those of the 1980s. Our friend who has worked in Oudalan recently wrote: “Almost each week there is news of someone giving their life to Christ. Last week, P, P, and S did a week of evangelism with J (and the PJ team) from Ouagadougou, and about 30 people came to Christ. P had 6 new Muslim converts in his church on Sunday. We estimate there are now over 100 local Muslim-background believers in the province”.
The Kingdom of God is advancing in the North of Burkina, despite the threat from Islamic militants. The work of Project Javelin and of dedicated evangelists and pastors is bearing great fruit.