Hispanic missions group feeds hungry in Senegal

May 24, 2016

The mission group Conquistando las Naciones Para Cristo, which is “Conquering the Nations for Christ” in English, took about 160 missionaries to Senegal, Africa, to do the work that had been put on their hearts. Evangelizing through retreats and giving away needed clothes, shoes, toys and food, the group shared meaningful and wonderful experiences with the Senegalese people. 

Following Pope Francis’s model for the Year of Mercy to “smell like the sheep,” Conquistando las Naciones Para Cristo sent three different groups throughout the end of April and early May to minister to and share community with those in the Paroisse Notre Dame de Lourdes parish in Saint-Louis, Senegal and surrounding areas. Yumiko Covarrubias spent two weeks in Senegal and felt privileged to connect with her brothers and sisters in Africa. 

“When I first heard in November last year that the ministry was going to Africa, I wouldn’t have imagined that I would travel such a distance, but for God nothing is impossible,” Covarrubias said. “I felt the call to go and give what God once gave to me through my brothers; the blessing of getting to know that He is alive and to feel His immense love. 

Covarrubias was nervous at first about how the trip would even become a possibility for her. 

“Without knowing if I was able to pay the necessary expenses and, above all, take so many days off of work, I decided to trust God’s call and wait on His will,” she said. “Gradually God started opening doors, putting everything in place, and when I least expected, the day arrived.”
The group passed out much-needed supplies and had fellowship with many of the children and families. They also had prayer services for their missionaries to become closer as a group. Although Conquistando las Naciones Para Cristo met the needs of the community with their donations, it was the connections they formed with the Senegalese people that made lasting memories.

“My favorite part was the smiles of the people, their looks and hugs in appreciation,” Covarrubias said. “I especially loved the smiles of children. Just simply receiving a small candy made them very happy. I was also impressed with how charismatic they are and the great talent in each of them and their way of praising God.” 

The population in Senegal is predominately made up of children under 14 years old — about 40 percent. Although Covarrubias was able to experience happiness, it was a shock to see the poverty in the area they missioned to. 

“The hardest part for me I think was to have to leave seeing the need,” she said. “We saw children without food, children not receiving love. We also saw so many people who do not know God. So many of us wanted deeply in our hearts to stay longer and help more. Seeing so many children on the street homeless, wearing no clothes or shoes, made me realize that here we take most things for granted.” 

The poverty was eye-opening, but Covarrubias was able to see the spiritual blessing from experiencing such conditions. 

“It was a great blessing missioning in a country like Senegal,” she said. “I thank God. It changed my life, not only humanly but also spiritually. There is still so much need and my enthusiasm has only increased. To stare with my own eyes at the wonders of God makes me want to work even more for each soul to be saved. My faith has increased so much more.”

Conquistando las Naciones Para Cristo started about eight years ago by a group from St. Patrick Catholic Church. Group member Maya Garcia said they wanted to help the Hispanic community in their relationship with God. 

“We started because we saw the need in our Hispanic community of having a personal encounter with God and the need of spiritual interior healing,” Garcia said. 

Looking to Scripture in forming the group, Conquistando las Naciones Para Cristo was named after Isiah 54:3 and its mission statement is based on Matthew 11:28. They have already gone on several mission trips, including the first mission in Guerrero, Mexico in November 2010. They have also gone to El Salvador, Honduras, Colombia and now to Senegal, Africa. Garcia said the group has plans to go on another mission trip to Honduras in May. 

Covarrubias is ready and willing for the group’s next mission trip that she is able to go on. 

“If it is God’s will, I would really love to go on another trip and will not think twice,” she said. “This mission has changed our lives and I’m very excited and ready for the next mission because we need to do all we can in Christ who strengthens us.”

For more information about how to be a part of Conquistando las Naciones Para Cristo, email the group at clnpc1128@gmail.com.