Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Weekly Prayer Focus: National Partners

In the last month, the Songhai team has sent out 2 pairs of national partners along the Road to Karma. These 2 pairs of men are spending 4 days a week in each of their respective villages & using the E2E curriculum to do wide seed sowing & evangelism. We'd ask that you spend this week praying for these 4 men.

Two of the men are living in Boubon. They have already seen a great response to their work & have even baptized one man already! The other two are living in Karma & have received great persecution. They were forced out of the one house they were living in last week. After finding a new house to rent, the landlord was very hospitable & agreed to let them live there. However, this certain group of men who has been causing so much trouble since we stepped foot in Karma has pressured the landlord to kick out our national partners!

Please pray for both these pairs of men. For the Boubon men, pray that the openness to the Gospel would remain & many would hear the Truth of God's Word & respond by giving their lives to Christ.

For the Karma team, pray that the many, many efforts of this group of trouble makers would be thwarted. That even they would hear & respond to the Truth of God's Word. That they would become like Paul & become the evangelists rather than the persecutors. Pray for our national partners that they would stand strong in their faith & continue to proclaim Christ amidst the struggles.

what we're all about

"For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us." - 1 Thessalonians 2: 1-8 ESV

As a Songhai team with the IMB, we have a strategy for reaching the Songhai people of West Africa & a number of goals by which we hope to accomplish this strategy. We create this strategy & set up these goals with one MAIN goal, one MAIN purpose in mind: to boldly proclaim the name of Jesus to those that have never heard & to make disciples of all men. 

When thinking about our goals & strategy for 2011, the Songhai team adopted the above verses from 1 Thessalonians as our guide. We, "being affectionately desirous of [the Songhai, are] ready to share with [them] not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because [they have] become very dear to us." That's our focus this year ... to share the Gospel, to share our selves. And if you join our team, whether as a volunteer or long-term, that will be your focus, too.

As a Songhai team, we also operate under two presuppositions: (1) God's sheep hear His voice and (2) Wide sowing produces wide reaping. And our strategy & goals for reaching the Songhai are pretty simple, too:

Songhai Team Strategy : We will seek to plant Songhai churches in major market towns that will raise up Songhai disciples who will reach Songhai people for Christ. 

Songhai Team Goals for 2011
  1. Engage 5 unengaged market towns using the E2E strategy.
  2. Enlist 10 national partners, train them in the E2E strategy, and send them out through their local church.
  3. Lead volunteer teams effectively from pre-field orientation to post-field follow-up.
  4. Maintain a healthy team by addressing conflict immediately, praying for one another consistently, being effective cross-cultural witnesses, and ministering side-by-side regularly.
  5. Nurture and develop Songhai disciples in currently engaged work.
  6. Start churches in 4 engaged areas of work.  
  7. Recruit new prayer partners and inform current prayer partners through newsletters, blogs, and social media outlets.

Pretty simple, huh? We share the Gospel & share our selves by proclaiming the names of Jesus with wide sowing & making disciples from wide reaping to the sheep whose name God is calling. 

This is what we do. Will you be a part of it?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hands On 2012

Any college aged guys out there? Anybody?

If you are out there & you're sitting there thinking ... "Hmmm, I would really like to be a missionary one day but I just don't know. I wish there was a way I could get a little experience first." Well, I have some GREAT news for you! There is such a way!!

Have you heard of the Hands On program? Here, in a nutshell, is what it is:

Hands On is a semester-long mentored missions experience that will allow you to:
  • Help people in spiritual and physical need
  • Learn from experienced international missionaries
  • Explore and investigate future service as a missionary
  • Learn to boldly and sensitively share Christ
  • Experience the joys and challenges of serving in another culture

So how great is that? And the news just gets BETTER! You can be a part of Hands On AND work with us!! That is right my friends! You can get a semester long missions experience WITH the Songhai IN Niger! Check out our job request on the Hands On site & email us if you have any questions at thephillips[at]pobox[dot]com.

Weekly Prayer Focus: Mali

Please be in prayer this week for our neighboring country, Mali. The Songhai are spread across 3 countries along the banks of the Niger River (Mali, Burkina Faso & Niger). As you can see from the picture below, the red line indicates where the Songhai are located in West Africa and that the majority of Songhai live in Mali.

You can read more about Mali here at BBC's website.

According to BBC, "The kidnapping of a number of foreigners apparently at the hands of al-Qaeda has raised fears that the country is being used as a sanctuary by the militants. Mali has not adopted as tough a stance towards al-Qaeda as its neighbours Algeria and Mauritania, and has agreed to free militant prisoners in order to secure the release of foreign hostages. This has given rise to tensions between Mali and the other Saharan states."

Also, the US Department of State has issued this warning in their Worldwide Caution for international travelers: "Additionally, the terrorist group, Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), has declared its intention to attack Western targets throughout the Sahel (which includes Mali, Mauritania, and Niger), and has claimed responsibility for kidnappings, attempted kidnappings, and the murder of several Westerners."

These threats & the current security situation in Mali have caused us to put a halt on our efforts to minister in the Sahel region of Mali due to the fact that the Songhai are in those outlying lands where it seems to be most dangerous.

Would you please pray for the Lord to restore peace to Mali & for a door to be opened through which we may continue our ministry efforts there?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

the foxes are coming!!

Yes, you read that right ... the Foxes are coming to Niger!! No, not the animals ... the people! Jody & Sarah Fox and their 3 beautiful little girls have been approved by the IMB to be church planters among the Songhai in Niger. After being in contact with them for more than a year, the paperwork, applications, evaluations, meetings, votings, etc, etc & all else that goes into getting someone to the field have finally been completed!! We are so thrilled to add another family to our team!!

Jody & Sarah will attend training in Richmond, Virginia for 8 weeks beginning at the end of April & will arrive in Niger in July. Please pray for their family as they make preparations for leaving the States behind & moving overseas ... all the goodbyes, packing, purchasing, etc, etc!

In case you didn't know, the IMB's funds have been limited for the last couple of years & there have been many, many families who have not been able to come to the field due to lack of money. There have been other people group teams who have not had a new "face" to their team in years; no one to expand their efforts to share the Gospel among the lost. To say that Jody & Sarah are an answer to prayer is an understatement. We are absolutely beside ourselves that they have made it this far & are joining our team!!

Hopefully in the coming weeks we will be able to share a picture or 2 with you of them & be able to introduce you a little more to the Fox family!! In the mean time, just pray for them as they spend this next month saying goodbye to their friends & family and begin the journey with their 3 girls (5, 3, & 18 mos) to move to Niger. Anyone with small children knows how difficult it is to go on a vacation to the next state ... just imagine what a move across the ocean is going to be like!

march 2011

*Please click on the above newsletter to enlarge it & read its contents*

Dear Prayer Partners,

Spring has sprung! Well, we really don't have spring, or any seasons for that matter, in Niger ... just hot & hotter! And it is getting HOT here with temperatures hovering around 110 in the days & 95-100 at night. And as an older, wiser missionary once said, "It's not as hot as it's going to get!" But despite the heat, we are trucking along & enjoying a VERY sweet season of ministry here in the desert. People are coming to know Jesus, some are hearing of His love for the first time, others are counting the cost of following Him & finding Christ worth it, believers are growing in their faith & knowledge of Christ, nationals are being trained & sent out to reach their fellow Africans with the truth of the Gospel, volunteers are committing to serve for weeks, or more, at a time so that the Songhai may believe & know that Jesus is Lord, and the list goes on & on!

Thank you for your countless prayers for our team, for the Songhai believers & for those that have yet to believe. We truly, truly, TRULY believe that your prayers are one of the reasons we are in this season. Yes, there are still hard times; yes, people are continuing to be persecuted for their faith; yes, we still meet resistance to the Gospel ... BUT, the Light is breaking through the darkness, Jesus is penetrating the hearts of men & women who have lived under the lies of false religions for thousands of years & it is because of a GOD who is greater still & hears our prayers! Thank you!!

We also wanted to remind you that each week we post a "Weekly Prayer Focus" on our blog for those of you who want more to pray about on a weekly basis. We also are posting specific requests from Gomer in Accra on our blog as well as volunteer testimonies, stories from this side of the world, information for volunteers or about upcoming trips and, if necessary, urgent prayer requests. If you haven't visited yet, we encourage you to do so! While there, you can also browse around & find out a little bit more about the people you are praying for ... learning a bit about their history, their culture & even try your hand at a Songhai recipe or two!

Lastly, for those of you who have prayed for the Songhai for many years, the names Brad & Sally Womble are not new to you at all. As the former team leaders for the Songhai team, they were very instrumental in researching & implementing strategies for the beginning church planting efforts of the Songhai people. As many of you know, they left Niger last summer to accept a temporary position with the IMB in Richmond, Virginia as stateside liaisons for the Sub-Saharan African peoples. The Wombles are excited to announce that they have accepted a new permanent position with the Board in Richmond & Brad will now serve as the Director for Event Coordination for the IMB. They have also purchased a home & will be closing on it in April.

that ALL may know HIM,

Mark & Parker Phillips <><

If you would like to be added to the email prayer newsletter list & receive this newsletter in PDF format, please contact us at

Weekly Prayer Focus: Gomer W

This week please be in prayer for Gomer as he travels back to the States for 2 months. While there, he will be speaking to numerous churches & groups as he reports on all God has done in Accra & also as he seeks to raise support for another year of work in Ghana. He will also be meeting with representatives of the IMB as he works to begin the application process of becoming a career missionary. Due to lack of funds & budget restraints, the IMB has not been able to offer Gomer a position for the last couple of years.

Please pray that a position & funds would become available for Gomer to be able to return to Ghana with the IMB as a full-time missionary. Please also pray for wisdom for Gomer & the representatives of the IMB as they meet to discuss all this would entail. Pray also for Gomer's safety as he travels across the ocean & many miles in the States.

Please remember the Albasan guys in your prayers as they will be without Gomer for 2 months. Mitch*, Gomer's partner in ministry, will continue to be available to the guys each day for ministry. Many of the boys have expressed interest in following Jesus in the last few weeks. Please pray that they would make firm commitments to Jesus & that Mitch would be able to begin the discipleship process with them despite a slight language barrier.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

new volunteer docs!

We have updated our volunteer documents that we send to teams via email & wanted to make them also available online. Here you will find a very condensed version of "all you need to know" for your trip to Niger! Please remember to look at all the information we have for volunteers on this site so that you will come fully prepared for your time abroad. If you would like either of these documents sent to you via email in a PDF format, please email us at



Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Weekly Prayer Focus: Mehanna Road

Please be in prayer for the Mehanna Road this week. This road is a stretch of 45 kilometers with 5 major Songhai market towns on it. For those of you who have followed the Songhai team & ministry closely over the last several years, you will recognize this name immediately & know it's association with First Baptist of Hurst, TX.

FB Hurst adopted this stretch of villages in 2006 with the goal of doing mass evangelization to these market towns. After just a few visits, many Songhai men & women expressed interest in the Gospel & some even followed through in making a decision & baptism. Over the course of the last 5 years, First Hurst has seen many come to Christ & small groups of Bible study have formed as well.

Currently there are 2 national partners that live full time on this road to continue the evangelism & discipleship efforts with the believers. Even though they are there full time, L & A continue to struggle with consistent meeting times with the believers & have yet to start a church. Life in a village is rarely predictable & work or family always seems to take precedence over any "scheduled appointment." Please pray for patience & wisdom as L & A seek to do ministry among & with these believers.

Please pray for not only our national partners but also for the believers along the road. Many of them were able to travel to Niamey a few weeks ago to attend a week-long discipleship conference. They were fed, encouraged & strengthened as a body of Christ. As many of them are the sole believer in their family or village, it is very tough for them to remain strong amidst persecution & loneliness. Please pray for them to remain faithful despite what their circumstances may be.

Pray also for their Christian walk to continue to grow. Most of these believers are illiterate & only know of the Bible what they have heard from others or through a cassette. Please pray that what has been planted in their minds & hearts would continue to grow. Pray that they would realize the importance of meeting together for Bible study each week & make that a high priority.

Thank you so much for praying for the Songhai team & ministry!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Requests from Gomer in Accra

Dear Friends,

I come to you this evening in a very somber mood asking for your earnest prayers.  It has been an eventful and sometimes heartbreaking day.

Please be in prayer for Mitch* and his family.  Barbara* his wife started having some very painful cramps in the lower stomach area last night.  A trip to the clinic and then to the hospital revealed that she is about 6 weeks pregnant.  However the stomach cramps may have been the result of miscarriage.  It will take some time to know for sure, so be in much prayer for the whole family in this matter.  Mitch and I talked a lot about it today and he is very sad knowing the possible likely outcome. (UPDATE: It is with a heavy heart I come to you this evening asking you to continue to pray for Mitch* and his family.  Last night Barbara* was hospitalized.  This morning it was confirmed that the pregnancy has ended.  She is home now.  Please continue to pray for this wonderful family.  Pray as they go through the healing process, both physically and emotionally. This family has gone through so much in the last few months, pray for peace and healing in this family.)

Today we did go to the onion market area and while there I heard news that thrilled me, overwhelmed me and made me realize just how much I rely on God and His Holy Spirit here.  One young man who has been a good friend told me that he really needed our prayers, he has told the elders he will not go to the Mosque to pray and that he will be following Jesus.  He is very uncertain as to what to expect in the next little bit.  I am thrilled he has the courage to stand up for Christ in this manner.  Please pray for him as he travels this narrow winding path.

One of the other young men said he and two others would come to my house on Wednesday to talk, it will be good conversation I believe.  Two of them are ready to follow Jesus and the third seems eager to know what his friends are being moved to accept.  Pray as we minister to these young men that the Holy Spirit will give them courage and strength to endure what they know is coming in persecution.

Pray for the young Albasan guys, pink-eye has been running epidemic here.  We have been out and seen these young fellows with nearly swollen shut, bloodshot, oozing eyes just suffering in misery.  We have tried to help all we can, but it is just so much bigger than what we can do.  Pray that God will touch them with His healing Hands of mercy.

Pray for our next team currently here.  It is an Adult team from First Baptist New Orleans and it is a great group.  Pray for our obedience and that God will do great things in and through this group.  They really have put in a tremendous amount of time praying and preparing for this Mission.  I look forward to what is going to happen in the hearts and lives of many Songhai as God works through this group.  We will be going to the onion market a lot and this is a tough place to minister.

Pray for me as I host this team.  Pray also as I prepare to visit the States for a few weeks.  I am praying that God will give me ample opportunity to share with as many as I can what He is doing here.  I will also be trying to raise the funds to stay here a little longer.  Pray that I will be in God's will in all I do.  I do plan to spend some good quality time with my family!  Pray that everyone will be healthy and happy.

Praise God for the Bissa people group team from Scotts Hill Baptist of Wilmington N.C.  Pastor Jimmie Suggs lead a team that saw many make decisions for Christ!  I had the pleasure of escorting one of the fellows and the team to the sea where he was baptized!  It is great to see new family members coming into the family.

Please pray for the people of Islam, I know the stereo typical picture our media has painted of them, but folks please believe this, God is working in the lives and hearts of many humble, love seeking Muslims, and we all know there is no love outside of God! and there is no other way to Him but by Jesus!

  • Please pray for Mitch* and Barbara* as they go through what ever is happening with this pregnancy.
  • Pray for the young men who are accepting Jesus.  Pray that they will find true strength and comfort in the Holy Spirit. 
  • Pray for Mitch and I as we minister and reach out to them that we will allow God to work through us.
  • Pray for the young folks suffering with the pink-eye, pray that the end of this is near.
  • Pray for the First Baptist New Orleans team as they prepare and come this week. 
  • Pray for me as I prepare for the team and as I prepare to visit the states to see family and friends, but also that I will be faithful to tell everyone I can the wonderful things God is doing here!
  • Praise God for the Scotts Hill Baptist team and for the people they saw respond to the gospel by accepting Jesus as their Savior. 
  • Pray for the people of Islam, that God will continue to work in their hearts and that they will decide to follow Jesus!

       Thank you and may God bless each of you.
       In His Service,

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Weekly Prayer Focus: "Henry"

Most of y'all recognize Henry's name as we've talked about him quite often. Those of you who've had the privilege of being here in the last 6 months can put a face to a name (& even his real name)!

Please spend this week praying for our brother. He is so desperate to begin a church (body of believers) in his village. For this to happen, he needs another brother (or sister) in Christ to stand with him & commit to meeting together to study the Word. Now don't get me wrong, "Henry" is not left to fend for himself each week. Someone from our team drives to his village to meet & study with him on a weekly basis. He sometimes even hops a bush taxi & makes his way to the capital city to visit with one of us for an extra dose of teaching. He just loves Jesus & the Word THAT much!

But, more times than not, he is by himself. A lone believer amidst a CROWD of unbelieving friends, family & neighbors in a village that is dark & dominated by evil. More than a handful of people in his village have professed to believe in Jesus, some even following through in baptism, but they each fall away. Much like Jesus' parable of the seeds, the cares of this world (or, more like, what they care about how the world views them) and the persecution of family & friends have choked the life out of them & they return to their former belief system.

Yet, Henry remains strong. He never ceases to sing praises to God no matter how much he is persecuted for his faith. The road he's chosen to follow is not easy. It is hard & tough & requires perseverance & faith. But, oh how glorious it would be if he could have at least one friend (or a dozen!) to walk this road with him.

Will you please earnestly pray for this to be a reality?