FEMO’s Ministry in Historical Perspective

This week Pastor Bananzaro offered his reflections on FEMO's on going ministry with university students here in Ouagadougou.

This week Pastor Bananzaro offered his reflections on FEMO’s ongoing ministry with university students here in Ouagadougou.

Bruce had a chance to sit with Pastor Bananzaro this past week and hear about the development of FEMO. Here is what he learned:

When the Evangelical Mennonite Church of Burkina Faso (EEMBF, Eglise Evangélique Mennonite de Burkina Faso) started the Mennonite Youth Hostel of Ouagadougou (FEMO, Foyer de l’Eglise Mennonite d’Ouagadougou) a number of years ago, church leaders wanted to provide housing and spiritual stability to Mennonite students new to the university and big city life. But it has become much more than that. These were the words of Calixte Bananzaro, pastor to FEMO residents and the Ouagadougou Mennonite congregation.

Besides providing a home for recently arrived Mennonite young people, FEMO has developed into a church community. Together with former students and a few families that have joined the group, hostel residents participate in a fledgling Mennonite congregation that celebrated Easter by moving into its new, permanent location from rented facilities. Thanks to support from North American partners, FEMO was able to buy a lot of it own close to the university campus. The students have moved in and the congregation is able to meet on the site, although renovations are ongoing.

The ministry of FEMO has developed in ways its founders had not foreseen in its seven years of existence. According to Bananzaro, the congregation that has sprung from the initiative provides its residents with a kind of “training ground” for spiritual leadership. In Burkinabe churches those who have a university education of any sort are called upon to provide leadership, even if they have no theological or ministry training. The Ouagadougou congregation has been a place where FEMO residents can hone leadership skills through leading worship, preaching, teaching Sunday school, filling other congregational roles, and sometimes attending local ministry training programs. Bananzaro noted that former FEMO residents have expressed gratitude for such learning opportunities after discovering that their university degrees entail leadership expectations in the church that go far beyond their professional identities.

In addition, the presence of a number of students from other denominations has meant that FEMO has provided an increased awareness of the Mennonite Church and its Anabaptist distinctives in the wider Burkinabe church community. The EEMBF is a small denomination with congregations in a limited geographical area. Pastor Bananzaro noted that non-Mennonite FEMO residents often act as “unofficial emissaries” to their home churches. Their testimony has resulted in an increased appreciation for Mennonite faith and ministry in the larger Burkinabe confessional milieu.

Perhaps the next seven years will result in even more unanticipated ministries! The new FEMO site increases the capacity from twenty-four to thirty residents. The congregation has also secured land on which a daughter congregation can be planted on the outskirts of the city. Such progress lays the base for a strong and vibrant Mennonite presence in Ouagadougou in the coming years.

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2 thoughts on “FEMO’s Ministry in Historical Perspective

  1. Thanks for passing on this excellent information. FEMO in some way sounds like a Conrad Grebel, but in Burkina Faso. I was reminded today what an important role places like Grebel and FEMO play in the formation of our young adults. A great video from Grebel, by a young man who I attended the same church with growing up:

    http: //www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTXruu4mv0E

    (do you have enough bandwidth in Burkina Faso to watch YouTube?)

  2. Hi Nancy & Bruce
    I have just enjoyed reading through your entire blog since arriving in Burkina. My family and I left Ouaga in June 2011 around the same time as Tany and Jeff. I was the MCC Director there and so much of your blog brings back so many memories of our 5 years in Ouaga – ISO, FEMO, PC and your many daily activities. I too tried to learn Moore from Constance but can’t say I mastered it…however, I did learn my French from her! The growth of FEMO is exciting – it is wonderful to see how God is blessing that community and how much she has grown since the days we met in the MCC offices.

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