by Slanwa Gaston.
It is a popular saying that knowledge is power. The Bible states that ‘people perish because of lack of knowledge’ (Hosea 4:6). Footsteps plays an important role in bringing much-needed information to people who want to make a positive difference in their homes, churches and communities. Footsteps also helps us to understand that each one of us can play a part in making our world a better place to live.
I first heard of Footsteps as a young boy in primary school in Cameroon. I received a well-circulated ‘journal’ called Pas à Pas [the French name for Footsteps]. I had already heard some people tell stories of Christians doing good things to transform their communities. I discovered them written down in Pas à Pas and I was really inspired when I began reading it. I wished that the good things happening in other communities could happen in my community. I decided in my heart that when I grew up I would follow such good examples and change my community for the better. From that day on I hunted for any new copy of Pas à Pas. After reading it thoroughly I passed it to my friends so they could read it as well.
Footsteps is a development ‘manual’ for many who do not have access to other relevant information written from Christian perspectives. It can reach into remote areas, especially rural areas where people are often eager to know the type of information the magazine contains. They are also interested in the knowledge and skills shared, the stories of transformation, teachings and Bible studies. Lots of people take initiative on their own just from reading articles in Footsteps, as it challenges them to review their own situation.
Although the reading culture of many Africans is low, those who do read are often keen to share what they have read with others. I remember my friend always wanted us to discuss features included in Footsteps. We would ask ourselves how we could improve our lives and communities by using what we read.
When read and shared, Footsteps can also develop the capacity of church leaders to teach, guide and get involved in community transformation activities. One of the church leaders in Cameroon, who has often talked to me about how useful and inspirational Footsteps has been to him and local Christian communities, said: ‘Though Tearfund has no partner at the moment in Cameroon, we benefit from Tearfund through Footsteps.’
I want to believe that this is just one small example of many success stories linked to Footsteps. Many stories are not told, as people in West Africa are unlikely to share their stories in writing unless they are asked to do so.
Footsteps gives hope that with God’s help it is possible to transform our lives and do something about issues we face in our communities, regions and countries.
The knowledge contained in Footsteps will outlive many of us and I believe that it is through integral mission that the church in Africa will become relevant to the continent and to the rest of the world.
Tearfund Country Representative for Niger