Niger is a unique country among the nations of the world. According to the most recent United Nations Human Development Index, Niger is presently the world’s least developed nation. (The HDI computes a nation’s educational, health, economical, and political realities) In 2012, the BBC gave Niger the ominous title as the worst country in the world to be a mom since it is a place where 1 in 3 children are malnourished and 1 in 7 will not see their fifth birthday combined with the highest birth rate in the world (by a large margin) with an average of 7.16 babies per woman. The United States, in comparison has a mere average of 2.06 children per woman. In the light of the previous statistic, it may come as no shock that Niger is one of the youngest countries in the world with a mean age of 15.2 years of age.
ROCHE Niger is the ROCK equivalent in Niger and a fully-registered national NGO with the mandate to provide children development opportunities and simultaneously minister the love of Jesus. ROCHE means “rock” in French and is an acronym for Réleve [RELIEF] Opportunité [OPPORTUNITY] Compassion [COMPASSION] et Hospitalité [HOSPITALITY] pour les Enfants [CHILDREN]. Though all the words reflect the vision of the English counterpart (ROCK - Relief, Opportunity, and Care for Kids), we were left with “H” to deal with.
French is the official language in Niger In the end, the word “Hospitality” was chosen on the basis of a couple reasons. First, the opposite of hospitality in a etymology-sense of the word is hostility. Jesus clearly decreed for the little kids to “come” to Him. (Matthew 19:14) He welcomed them to Himself in a culture where children were often left out of social situations. We have not come to Niger to merely deal with children but to welcome them as honored guests. We see children not only as honored guests, but we as honored hosts to have the privilege of serving such members of society, for did Jesus not tell us that if we welcome a child in His name, we receive Him? (Mark 9:37)
Thus, the heartbeat of ROCHE Niger is to passionately show and share the love of Jesus Christ to this generation of youth.
Youth Development Center
The Youth Development Center (YDC) in Niger is designed to equip the youth of the nation to break the box of mere reality and see the potential both in their lives and nation for time and eternity. Using the arts, music, and agriculture, this center seeks to teach and help mold the building blocks of creativity and vision in such a way where youth not only come out with skill, but with a different perspective on life.
Outside the main building of the YDC, a community garden for the agricultural training school will be put in place surrounding a proposed outdoor amphitheater where community arts (drama, music, camps, and youth events) events will be held.
ROCHE School of Agriculture
In a nation where over forty-percent of children are malnourished and nearly twenty-percent die before five from malnutrition and malaria, great opportunity for change is present. God has blessed this land with key trees (such as the Moringa and Nim) that can be used to reverse these dreadful facts. Through education and incarnational ministry, ROCK is partnering with local workers to equip, train, and implement new agricultural practices that not only change present life, but increase local natural resources, eradicate malnutrition, provide for famine relief in the country, and provide the building blocks for future development without the assistance of outside intervention.
ROCHE School of Art
In the soon-to-be-opened Youth Development Center of ROCHE in Niger, one school of training is an art center to challenge and expand the minds of the nation’s youth in a creative way to break the boxes of rote memorization and mere duplication of the status quo. Rather than teaching kids what to think, the art center, using all forms of art looks to expand the boundaries of young minds for them to see their God-given potential and see their nation NOT in the light of what is, but rather, what could be.
ROCHE Swim Club
ROCHE Niger has a vision to develop the sporting world of Niger through comprehensive training programs, access to the best athletic facilities in the country, and top-notch coaching with a Christ-centered vision to prepare and equip the future Olympians and national athletes of this nation for time and eternity.
The first of these programs will be the ROCHE Swim Program. Niger dissolved the national swim federation due a lack of funding and priority. Now, through relationships built, ROCHE seeks to build the program from ground up and see a solid foundation of athletes prepared to lead Niger back into aquatic excellence and a vehicle of the Gospel to go throughout the nation.
ROCHE School of Music
Music is a gift from God. A gift for us to enjoy as we worship our Creator. In the ROCHE School of Music, our vision is to see the church of Niger use, enjoy, and expand this God-given gift. Our goal for the music school is for the name of Jesus to be lifted high in Niger through both music and lyrics, both in society and in the local churches. Ultimately, we want to see native believers taking the Gospel to the unreached in their own nation through the means of music.
To this end, the school is to train youth in instruments and vocal to help local churches’ praise teams, teach music composition, facilitate recording (a studio is onsite in the ROCHE Youth Development Center) and see the distribution of Christ-glorifying music to the nation. One key of this vision is to not only learn the process of making music, but teach the building blocks so that new music can be created.
ROCHE Niger wants to see the music industry of Niger hijacked for the glory of God. From YouTube videos, to ringtones, to music played in public arenas, to any other means of music dissemination.
Currently, music is not part of the Nigerien public education program. Thus, we hope to bring the joy of music to Nigerien children through after-school programs, special classes, private lessons and in every phase of the process, share the message of Jesus with them.
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Short Term Involvement
The heartbeat behind short-term teams and individuals is that they would clearly see the face of the Lord while they're here and that they build relationships with the people. That can come about in many different ways but the most important way would be through time spent in prayer before, during and after their time spent here. We want to see God give those on short term teams a love for the people in Niger before they even arrive in the country and that only comes through prayer. If those who come on a short term team truly see the face of the Lord while here then we know that the precious lives they come in contact with during their stay (and those they interact with back in their original nation) will also see the Lord and His life in them.
Short-term teams may be involved with the Youth Development Center (music, agriculture, the arts, or athletics) or, their time will be spent on the streets and in village ministering the love of Christ through relationship building. Regardless, the focus on any trip will be prayer. Weekly children’s clubs are a constant, but the bottom line is whenever their time is done in Niger, they will leave the people of Niger and the local team knowing they have encountered Jesus and will leave never being the same.
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