Thursday, July 28, 2011

Weekly Prayer Focus: Gomer Williams

Please read the following newsletter from Gomer Williams, serving in Accra ...

Dear Friends,

Thank you for your prayers and support.  It has been a few weeks since I came to you with praise and request for the mission here.  A lot has been happening and God is so awesome and I thank Him for the opportunity to be just a small part of what He is doing here.

QBNDRZ!! XT MKF RBWYL!!  What if you looked at a sign and that is what you could make out?  Would you know what it means? Maybe it says "Welcome, Be Our Guest", or maybe it says "Danger!! Do Not Enter!", how would you know?  What if you could not read?  What if you went to grocery store and no one there spoke a language you understood?  What if you lived a thousand miles from home and couldn't write a letter to your family or friends?  What if you were told God loved some people but not all people, how will you know what the Bible truly says about God's love if you could not read the Bible for yourself? 

Reading, writing and speaking English is a desire many of the Songhai here have and we are endeavoring to help them learn.  We are trying to partner with local churches and individuals to develop some English classes for the Songhai and their communities.  So far it is going well. We have one school in Nima that is being run by Trinity Baptist Church and they are doing a great job teaching and reaching out to the community.  They are having an average of about 20 to 23 people come three evenings each week to learn. 

We are partnering with a few men in the onion market to develop a little school there to teach English to the people who live and work there.  They have just started teaching this week and so far the only problems are too many people wanting to learn and the light isn't working yet so the room gets too dark.  A man named Y* is running the school there.  He is a Songhai man who we have partnered with to help get everything they need to be able to provide a quality education for the people in the market area.  We have rented a room, put in benches and a light fixture, bought educational books and pens and paper and hung the new black board the guys made from a piece of plywood we bought and painted black.  It has been a good experience to go through this with them.  We have made this to be their school, and they are proud of it.

Now lets pray that through these educational opportunities that a few things happen.
1.  Pray that as more want to learn, more churches will be open to teaching and creating schools.  It is through these partnerships we want to develop friendships that help foster an understanding of Christianity among the Islamic Songhai.  Most West African Muslims have never been exposed to true Christianity and view it as a religion of gluttony and perversion.  There is a lot of false religion here claiming to be Christianity.  We want the schools to help foster better relationships that will lead to positive discussion about the True God and His Son Jesus and the Gospel.
2.  Pray for the people who are teaching the classes, that God will work through them and that they will have many opportunities to share Jesus as a result of these classes.
3.  Pray that as the learners progress they will explore the Word of God for themselves and come to know the Truth.  God's word is powerful and as the people learn to read it is our desire they will use this new knowledge to seek God's word, which has the power to save.
4.  Pray for the funding of these schools.  We are trying to help anyway we can to get this going.  Most of the people we are helping simply do not have any money to spare or else they would already be involved in one of the many Adult education programs run by other NGOs which charge a fee to attend.  We are dedicated to providing free education to people who will make the commitment to learn.  We are giving each teacher a stipend for travel, we are buying books, paper, pencils, pens, and other learning aids.  We have bought benches, light fixtures, chalk boards and we even rented a room in the Onion market itself so the Songhai who live there would not have to travel out of their area at night to attend class.
5.  Pray as we seek God's wisdom and timing when it comes to branching out into new areas.  We are even praying about a better partnership with the schools back in Niger in the home villages of the Songhai.  Many of these schools have only oral learning due to the lack of funds to buy basic educational material, desk, chalk boards or books.  We want to pray about how we can help them.
6.  Pray about partnerships, churches from the States that can come and be a part of helping develop and grow these schools and encourage the local churches that are involved. 
7.  Most of all, pray that this is all done to the honor and glory of God. That through this, no man is glorified, but that God is exalted and His Son Jesus will be accepted by many as their Savior.  For what good is it if they gain education but not eternity!

       Thank you for your prayers, your support and your love.
       In His Service,

Monday, July 25, 2011

God's sheep hear His voice

If you've sat through our on-field orientation then you are familiar with the title of this blog.  Our ministry philosophy is summed up in two presuppositions:

1) God's sheep hear His voice
2) Wide sowing equals wide reaping.

Practically this simply means that we speak the name of Jesus boldly and often in places it's never been spoken and to people who've never heard it. 

These came about from years of ministry among the Songhai and seeing the same words being received differently.  As we shared Christ in a group, there would be 2 who got up and left, 2 who ignored us, and 2 who were acting as if they were hearing the voice of their Father! We shouldn't be surprised by this.  In fact, these presuppositions are nothing new and are based on Jesus' parable of the sower.  The point is that our job is to share the name of Jesus and trust God for the fruit.

I am writing this after seeing it displayed on two separate occasions in two different villages.

Sam in Boubon:
We had the first believer in Boubon accept Christ a few weeks before the May Living Hope team came. One of our national partners had led him to Christ and our LH team spent the week discipling him. We were all amazed at how fast he was growing.  He is almost 60 years old and he can read.  These are two things that separate him from 90% of our other believers.  After the team left we got the whole story about Sam. 

He told us that around 20 years ago he had some interaction with a Nigerian Christian in Niamey. This man didn't really share his faith with Sam but he did give him a New Testament. So for 20 years Sam has been reading this New Testament but not really understanding it. Then we sent 2 national partners to Boubon to live for 3 months. 

As one of them was walking by Sam's house, Sam called out to him and said, "Why are you here?' Our partner was a little worried he'd run across an iman or maribou who wanted to pick a fight.  But our partner answered boldly "I've come to tell people about Jesus, the Messiah."  Sam's heart leapt as he said, "Please come tell me about him, I've been waiting for 20 years to understand who Jesus is."  Sam became a new creation that day.

David in Kouli Kwaara:
We've spent the past week in KK painting a clinic but also sharing in the village.  There have been some obvious attacks on our group and our time.  Yesterday, our two translators were not able to go out in the village and story so my initial thought was, "Let's just hit the clinic really hard and finish the painting."  However, I asked if some of the group wanted to story and they said, "Yes," so off we went.  I had seen a group of women and children (since most the men were out farming) and was heading to talk to them.  But a man came to us out of his compound and was greeting us. 

We went through the typical greetings and I was still planning on going to the women's group when he said, "Wa kokari," which means something like "take courage" or maybe more appropriately "you're really doing something good here."  He said, "You need to change the children [this generation] with your message, they need to hear it."  I responded that he was right but that he too needed this message. 

His eyes sort of lit up and he scurried into his house to produce a mat for us to sit on.  He called all his children onto the mat to listen to our story.  You could just see each of the words sinking into his heart.  When we got towards the end he exclaimed, "I believe, I want Jesus!" This 56 year old man became a new creation yesterday.  He said that he would now lead his whole family to find salvation in Jesus as well.  He said he'd been waiting for 3 years for someone to explain the story of Jesus to him after receiving a cassette that many years ago.

So why do Sam and David respond to the Gospel when so many others don't?  I don't know.
Why did God use the same dream 4 nights in a row to call Ibrahim but not Alassan? I don't know.
I don't know how God's sovereignty and human responsibility work together but that's sort of the way mysteries work:  they're mysterious. 

But one thing I've learned in 5 years of ministry among the Songhai is that God's sheep hear His voice.  The only problem is that there aren't enough people looking for those sheep.  How many more have waited 3 years or 20 years for someone to come and tell them about Jesus.  Will you be one of the ones to carry the name of Jesus to those who've never heard? 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Weekly Prayer Focus: FBC Hurst Team

Please be in prayer for FB Hurst this week as they minister along the Mehanna Road. They will be concentrating their efforts in the village of Kouli Kwaara. While there they will be painting a clinic as well as assisting the believers in sharing the Gospel. They will be taking more of an "assistant" role this time versus leading so as to help the believers gain confidence in sharing the Gospel with their friends & family that do not follow Jesus. They will also assist the believers in beginning a church while leading Bible studies with them as well.

Please pray for the team's work at the clinic - that it would be done quickly & efficiently so as to allow them ample time to encourage & minister with the believers.

Pray that their time with the believers would be one of not only encouragement & teaching but also of spurring them on to do the task that God has asked of all believers. Pray that the believers would be bold in sharing their faith & also grow in their faith as they study God's word together.

Pray that the team would also be bold in sharing with those that have never heard. Pray that they would have many opportunities to share with the people of Kouli Kwaara.

july 2011 newsletter

Dear Prayer Partners,

Thank you once again for another month of your faithful prayer support!! It has been a busy, busy month to say the least. It feels like it was only last week that we were writing you with an update &, yet, here we are again! Isn't the summer supposed to be a time to slow down? Well, even though we were busier than normal, it was a good kind of busy! We hosted a team of 14 from Kentucky, welcomed the Fox family to Niger & said goodbye to our summer interns! It never ceases to amaze us how the Lord continues to burden people's hearts for the Songhai & call them to come serve here. We count it a privilege to work alongside so many of you that have served, will serve or are serving the Songhai!

Please continue to pray for the Songhai this next month as 2 more volunteer teams will be working here. Pray that many, many, many would hear His Truth & His Name & decide to follow Jesus! Pray for our team, our national partners, our volunteers & our believers. God is doing amazing work among the Songhai & we know 100% that your prayers are SO very vital to it all. We can look back over the last 5 years here & see how God's hand was covering us, moving around us & nudging the Songhai closer to Him as a result of your prayers. Please do not grow weary in doing good (Gal 6:9)!

In the next 2 weeks, our "More Prayer, More People" contest will end & so far, we have only increased our prayer support by 64 people. While we are more than grateful for even one more person praying for the Songhai, we would ask once again that you would help increase that number into the hundreds. Would you please ask your friends or family or Sunday School class or church to consider partnering with us in prayer? You can find details about it here on our blog.

Thank you again for praying for us & the Songhai!!

that ALL may know HIM,

Mark & Parker <><

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Volunteer Testimony: TCBC (July 2011)

I came with really no expectations other than: I am going to sweat A LOT! Sweating a lot, I did! I have done mission trips before but nothing compares to coming here to Niger to work with the Songhai. The people are SO nice & friendly & I have realized several things while I was here.

The first thing I realized is how blessed I am. I have way more than I need at home. If I want something, I usually get it. It is a shame that I have so much stuff laying around that I never bother with and the kids here are super excited to get my trash from lunch. I am beyond blessed.

The second thing I learned is demons are legit. I know the Bible talks about demons and says they are real but in America we don't think about it. We write that off. But I know without a doubt that they are still around. Scary thought, I know, but we as Christians do not have to worry because Jesus has our  backs.

The biggest thing I realized while here is you shouldn't overlook the people you see often. You can get such a blessing from sharing what God is up to in your life. I realized from talking to one of my friends in my youth group that God is undeniably awesome! He was put a burning desire in me that just wants the world to know about Him and the joy He can give you.

I will never forget my time here. I will always pray for the Songhai people. I know that one day someone in Tagabati will answer God's knocking. That person will make it easier for others in the village to answer. When that day comes, I will rejoice.

This time has helped me know even more that God has put a heart for missions in me. I hope to come back to Niger someday.

-- Shawna

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Volunteer Testimony: Trammell Creek (July 2011)

When we first got to Africa, everybody was telling me how much of a "life changing experience" being here would be. I really honestly didn't believe them. I thought that we would share the story with a bunch of people & a couple here & there would get saved. Sure, it would be awesome, but I'd go home & still be the selfish, judgmental girl I've always been. But God had a totally different plan.

Being in the village the first day totally blew my mind. The way every child latched onto everyone in my group & walked around holding our hands the whole time not even worrying about the "evil hand!" It surprised me hearing that the people take the five minute walk to the market & it taking like an hour & a half because they stop & talk to EVERYBODY on the way. These people are one huge community, not judging who you are or the color of your skin. They love you almost no matter what.

It really gave me a wake up call about not everyone in the world is as blessed as America is. And especially that Jesus loves everyone the same no matter what ... and so should I! This trip has literally changed my life totally around. I'm not very shy anymore, I am closer with God & I love people more. I thank God for blessing me so that I had the opportunity to fall in love with these people and that they helped me change without even knowing it!

"Be strong & courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them for the Lord your God goes with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you." Deuteronomy 3:16

-- Hannah

Friday, July 8, 2011

Weekly Prayer Focus: the Foxes

Please be in prayer for the Fox family today & next week. Yesterday, they said their final goodbyes to friends & family in the States & boarded a plane to Niger. They are en route to Niamey as I type this & should be here in about 4 hours. They will, undoubtedly, be tired & experiencing a wide arrange of emotions. Their 3 young girls will be confused by the heat, the language & the time change. It will take them quite a few days to not only adjust to the time difference but also the heat & the way of life here. It's one big adjustment process, to say the least.

Please pray for this family as they step foot into this country & their new life here. Pray for smooth & quick adjustments. Pray for peace when the Enemy attacks their thoughts. Pray for comfort when they begin to miss home & their friends & family. Pray for them to grow together in the Lord & as a family.