God Turned the Tide in The Gambia

– From the February 2019 issue of PROFile – a message from the President by Stan Wallace, President of Global Scholars (USA)

“If the Christian Studies Program does not start this year, you can forget about it!”

That is what the dean of a university in West Africa told a group of Canadian Global Scholars professors who had worked for three years to establish a department of Christian Studies at his institution. The scholars had worked together with representatives of the country’s evangelical minority to design a program that would be a recognized voice for the Gospel in the small nation’s only university. There are no seminaries or Bible colleges to produce pastors for this majority Muslim nation. So God had opened a door to train theological students at the university. Yet, years of bureaucracy and wrangling on many fronts had frustrated progress. It was 2015.

As if the internal obstacles were not enough, that same year the nation’s president declared it an “Islamic State.” Yet, believers on both sides of the Atlantic prayed that God would provide the faculty needed to make the program work. One Global Scholar said the dean’s haunting words “propelled us to action. There is too much to lose.”

This story is about the Republic of The Gambia, which has a population roughly the same as the state of New Mexico with less than 1/30th of that state’s land area. It is the smallest country on the African continent. On the map looks like an undulating snake about 240 miles from nose to tail, an average of 17 miles wide. It is a nation dominated—and bisected—by the mighty Gambia River, from which it takes its name. It also divides its only neighbor, Senegal, which surrounds it. Ninety-five percent of the more than two million Gambians are Sunni Muslim. Despite the former president’s claim that his country was an Islamic state, the Gambian constitution guarantees freedom of religion.

Before the year was over, God turned the tide. In September 2015, Dr. Layne Turner, a Global Scholar who had served in China, became the first full-time faculty member of the Christian Religious Studies program at the University of The Gambia (UTG). The first cohort of students enrolled in classes. Two years later, Dr. Manhee Yoon, Global Scholar from Canada, joined Dr. Turner and Rev. Bannie Manga, a Gambian professor, as the third faculty member. Today there are more than fifty students in the program at the UTG. With undisguised joy, Dr. Turner recently wrote:

After getting my grading done and the grades turned in, we will have completed three years of the first batch of Christian Studies students of UTG. Time is moving quickly.  It doesn’t seem like three years have gone by.  What was a dream for many for quite a long time is now a reality coming to fruition in the lives of the students!

Pictured here: Dr. Manhee Yoon (BR), Dr. Layne Turner (TR), and their students at UTG

The Christian Religious Studies program at the UTG is a Bachelor of Arts program in the humanities division. The first students to earn a B.A. will graduate in 2020. Dr. Yoon made a brief slide show about the program you may watch here.

The establishment and growth of the program at the UTG are reminders of how vital concerted prayer is. It is another example of how Global Scholars professors receive unparalleled opportunities to influence tomorrow’s leaders for Christ. Global Scholars got its start thirty years ago when Dr. Danny McCain pioneered a similar program in Nigeria. Today 132 professors are serving in 46 countries including the beautiful land of The Gambia. Join with me in persistent prayer and financial support for Global Scholars fellows around the world.

For Christ and universities worldwide,
Dr. Stan W. Wallace
President and CEO, Global Scholars (USA)