One of Rev. Djakouti's church members, a chemist, lost his wife when he became a Christian. Her Muslim family came and forcibly took her back.
"There is a sort of quiet, constant opposition to Christians. Nothing too obvious. But, for example, when we want to start a new church in an area where the authorities are Muslim, we cannot get the necessary permissions and find it very difficult to get premises or land. In the vicinity of a church, the Muslim community will lodge formal complaints against the noise of singing or praying. They try to stop us meeting," Djakouti said.
"At the moment, only widows and outcasts are allowed to become Christians; otherwise, the person will be expelled from their family and community. There is no tolerance towards a convert from Islam to Christianity."
Djakouti added, "It is all right for Muslims to make converts but not for Christians to preach the gospel."
Islam is expanding too, as mosques are being built almost everywhere. In one village of 5,000 inhabitants, there is a new mosque that has a capacity of 10,000 people. In Bafilo, the regional governor told the Christians that he could no longer support them because the Muslims had control of the region.
Another problem Christians face is the increased level of community aid sponsored by Muslims, thanks to money and support from oil-rich countries such as Saudi Arabia.
Young people are also finding educational opportunities in Muslim countries.
"The Muslims are after our young people," Djakouti said. "We are frightened and have much work to do. We have our teams of evangelists, and they are looked after by three pastors. But we wish we could offer the people more than just the message of the gospel. They have many needs."
Christian leaders in Togo believe they must do more than simply bring spiritual help to the people if they are to strengthen the church.
"Islam is gaining ground because we are not in a position to offer people physical help," Djakouti said. "We hardly have the funds for our own development, and certainly cannot match the sort of money coming in for the development of Islam through the Gulf States."
Copyright 2001, Compass News Direct. Used with Permission.