As a child, Sosthene Maletoungou knew little about God’s love. Now, as a Christian Reformed World Missions missionary, Sosthene hopes to help teachers in West Africa point children to Christ.
Sosthene grew up the second of six children in a poor, non-Christian family in the Central African Republic. His parents separated when he was 8 years old. For the next few years, Sosthene and his siblings seesawed between homes, living with their parents and extended family members until they were sent away.
To survive, he and his siblings stole food from market vendors or searched through the trash. “Anger, frustration, shame, and hopelessness from street life began to build up within us,” he says.
Then one day Sosthene followed some children to a soccer event at a local church. He so enjoyed the game—and the free post-game treat—that he returned for follow-up games. The youth leaders running the games soon realized his situation, and some families took him in. Through their care and witness, Sosthene came to know and follow Jesus.
As time passed, Sosthene took on more family and church responsibilities. He used a 25-cent gift from a foster family to start a business buying and reselling plastic bags. He added items over time, eventually making enough money to rent a place, care for his siblings, and finish high school.
Meanwhile he helped lead worship, prayer, and youth ministries at church.
His church leaders and mentors noticed his leadership and spiritual gifts. On their recommendation, Sosthene entered the discipleship training school of Youth With a Mission’s (YWAM). He then served with YWAM in various locations, meeting his wife, Kara, in the process.
By 2011, the Maletoungous sensed God calling them to a new mission opportunity. As they prayed and explored some options, they felt more and more pulled to Francophone Africa.
“It was like divine confirmation to us when, through CRWM, we received the call for ministry among the Fulani in West Africa,” says Sosthene.
After spending several months building a support network, the Maletoungous moved to West Africa earlier this fall. Since then, Sosthene has begun helping schools network and is mentoring teachers on integrating a biblical worldview into their classrooms.
“I look forward to being a part of God’s big picture of transformational change by empowering Christian schools to shape the leaders of tomorrow who will influence Africa for good,” Sosthene says.