Friday, September 30, 2011

Weekly Prayer Focus: Ayorou (New Believers)

While Shawn & his team were here last week, they had the opportunity to witness three women & 2 men come to a saving faith in Christ. One of the team members even had the opportunity to baptize the newest male believers while Ibrahim baptized 2 of the 3 women.

Please pray for these new believers in Ayorou. The women are joining only one other female believer in this village. The men are joining a great group of men who have been following Jesus for a while. The men have met consistently over the past year or 2 to study & read together. Pray they take these new believers under their wings & intentionally disciple them in their new faith. Pray they open their arms to them as they leaves behind everything they've ever known.

Pray for the women as they grow in their new faith. Pray for Hamsatou as she now has women to meet with, pray with & study with together. Pray that she grows in her faith as she models for these new women a life of radical abandonment to Jesus. Pray for these women as they embark on this wonderful new journey of their life; pray God would be real to them, pray they would seek out ways to grow in their faith & knowledge of Him.

Pray for the church as a whole. Pray that it would remain unified. Pray that the more mature men in their faith would set aside cultural faux pas & invite these women into their Bible studies. Pray that they would seek ways to be culturally sensitive but also remain faithful to the Word as they meet with these women. Pray that they would see everyone as a part of one body, the church.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

news from Gomer: September 2011

Dear Friends,

I come to you today with some updates to some earlier prayer requests and some new requests for your intercessory prayer.  But first allow me to give a statement of apology for not keeping you better updated on the events and happenings here in the past month.  It has been incredible here the last few weeks.  We seem to go from one situation to the next without a break.  I have been blessed and have seen God at work and that has been worth the little of "hardship" I may think I experience.   God is great, faithful and Loving, praise Him!

First, How is Wyatt*?  Well, he is getting settled in again to life here in Accra.  We helped him build a new Kiosk and get some provisions so he can make a small business to provide for himself.  He is starting to gain some boldness back after seeing that God will provide and sustain him through all.  He is trying to learn how to be a Christian in an Islamic world and that is a tough situation to be in.  He still gets some scorn and ridicule, he gets old friends coming by to chastise him for forsaking the religion of Islam and some that won't come around at all.  He still needs our earnest prayers.  We want him to grow in his love of Jesus and to allow God to grow him into the Christian God wants him to be.  He sometimes has moments of fear and confusion but he is holding fast to Jesus, pray that God will continue to hold him close and that these feelings of fear and confusion will be lifted from him and replaced with love and boldness.

Please also Pray for Wyatt's friends and family, that they will see a change in Wyatt that could only come from a loving God and that they will seek to restore torn relationships with him. 

Pray for Michael*.  He is also going through a tough time as friends come to try to talk him out of what he knows is truth, which is Jesus as his Savior.  He is holding strong but he too is only human and times can get very tough for him as well.  He came to Mitch* and me just last week and was upset because some friends were coming around to insult him and he was not sure what to do in the situations it was putting him in.  We talked to him about loving our enemies as Jesus told us to do and as we talked you could see the eyes light up and he said he knew what he had to do.  He left saying he would just go to his friends and tell them to insult away, that he would love them and pray for them regardless.  Praise God for his desire to learn about Jesus.  Every time he gets in my truck he picks up the Bible I carry and starts to read, he will ask many questions due to his limited reading ability.  It is great to have discussion with him, he is a sweet spirit in Christ.  Continue to lift him up as we try to help him also get settled in to a new job.  He got injured a few months back and the job he had carrying the large onion bags was causing him to much pain and was starting to truly cripple him, so we have been trying to get him settled in the brokering business, so far it has been a little rocky but he is doing ok.

Pray as we (Mitch*, Michael* and I) prepare to go to Niger on the 3rd of October.  We are going to be flying up to Niamey and this is a huge prayer request as it is both expensive and also because it is both Mitch's and Michael's first ever flight!  I will be taking a few little baggies along just in case...  They are both looking forward to the flight, but more over we are all looking forward to reuniting with so many of the onion guys that have gone home to work the family farms.  We are wanting to spend a night in the village to be able to allow the ones who would like to, to come and visit to have a time of encouragement and bible stories and maybe listen to a cassette or two, but we are hitting a little snag there.  Seems we are not really big heroes in the village at this point, since some of the sons came back talking about Jesus and Christianity.  So be in prayer that God will lead us and give us great discernment and wisdom as we go. We also want to go visit with Wyatt's family, please lift this up in prayers.  We plan to spend as much time as we can finding family members of the guys still here in Accra to greet them and bring to them news of their sons.   We want this to be a time of strengthening relationships and sharing more of our loving God, His Son Jesus and the good news of the Gospel.

Pray for a couple of the guys that are wanting us to help them get to Niamey at the same time we are going.  They are trying to configure a way to go talk to a couple people there that are key figures in sharing Jesus with them.  I really want to help them go because these two are just bursting at the seems to ask a few key questions and are just that close to receiving Jesus as Savior.  Pray for these two because they are keeping a close eye on both Wyatt and Michael also, they are watching to see how God protects and provides for them.  Pray that I do the right thing in this, it is a lot of money and I must be a good Steward of God's money. So this is no small affair, especially after you couple it with the cost for Michael, Mitch and I to go.

Pray for us as we go also because Michael wants us to go with him when he tells his father of his decision to follow Jesus.   He is a little tentative about this but says he has to do it and that he believes his father will be happy for him, we will see.  I will be honest with you, I am and am not looking forward to this time.  I know the road to his father's house is long, but maybe that day it want be long enough, I just don't know.  I am praying that God will speak to his father's heart while we are there and he will believe.  Michael's mother died when he was a small boy of only three or four, so he wants us to also go to his Aunt's house to tell her, she is the one who mothered him as a small boy.  Pray for her.

We will be taking and some school supplies to the village where Wyatt and so many of these young guys are from.  First Baptist Weber City in Virginia and Harrison Ave. Baptist Church in Harrison, Ohio have graciously donated several big boxes of supplies to go to the school there.  We are praying that this will give us a great opportunity to share with them God's love.  We really look forward to seeing the looks in those little children's eyes when they see all these notebooks, pencils, paper, pens and so much more!  I really look forward to reading a letter written by First Baptist Weber City explaining why they did what they did.  Love, God's Love.  We hear from many here that kindness, compassion and love draw them to Jesus, not scholar, debate and endless programs of "our god is better than your god!"  All things without Love are but the noise of clanging cymbals.

Pray for all the onion guys still here in Accra.  Life is hard for them right now.  The market is no good, and the Accra city government has been really trying hard to end the street vending these young men are taking part in.  The government is very heavy handed and the guys are scared, but they have no where else to turn to make a living at this time.  They are not happy that they lose more money than they make now due to the government confiscating their onions two or three time each week leaving them broke and barely able to pay for the onions let alone buy their daily kenkey or banku.  Pray for us and them as we seek to help them find and/or create alternative jobs.  Pray that we will have wisdom in this matter and that we will only be of help.  Some of the guys are worried right now because last Tuesday I had left my camera with them and the government guys came and took it. When I asked about it they informed me I would have to bring one of the young guys to the office and exchange him for the camera, so I am looking for a new camera. 

Pray for the city government that they will have a change of heart as to how they seek to put a stop to the street vendors.  Ghana claims to be a Christian nation, pray that they will use Christian values as they create and enforce policy.  Pray for us and the onion guys as we seek to help get them off the streets.  Pray that as we walk through this, we will be a glaring reflection of God's amazing love to all who are involved.  Pray that God will use this opportunity to touch the hearts of the onion guys and the market elders.

Pray for Wyatt as he grows in the Lord.

Pray for Michael as he grows in the Lord and as he prepares to go tell his family of his new found faith in Jesus.

 Pray for us as we prepare to go visit in Niger.  Pray we will go prepared to share Jesus and that God will do great things through us as we go to minister.  Pray that we will use God's wisdom in knowing who to take and share this experience with.  Pray that all who do go will grow in God's love and that this will continue to build on the foundation needed to see the formation of a Christian congregation in these villages.

Pray that the school supplies will be used of God in a mighty way to share His love with the people of this village whom He loves very much.

Pray for the onion guys, the city government, Mitch and me as we seek to help resolve the situation here with the street vending.  Pray that God will give us wisdom, direction and knowledge in all this.  Pray that we will be able to get the onion guys off the streets and into safe productive jobs soon.

Pray for Mitch and his family.  Barbara is expecting!!!  Pray that this pregnancy will result in a beautiful little child born into a Christian family!!

Pray for me that I will have the knowledge, wisdom and courage to face and work through all God has for us to go through.  Pray that I will always and only seek to do the will of Him who sent me.  Praise God for He is able!

Praise God for His love and grace. Praise God for His Son Jesus and the Salvation He offers the whole world, onion guys and all!!

Thank you and God bless each of you.

      In His Service,

Monday, September 26, 2011

Volunteer Testimony: Mt Olive Baptist Church (Sept 2011)

"If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land..." Isa 1:19

When we are obedient, God will reward us with His power, presence, and supernatural blessing... all in His good timing. What an honor and privilege it was to have been chosen by God to be His hands and feet...

The days we spent visiting the villages were some of the hardest days for me... being bold for Christ... walking down the streets, meeting complete strangers, in a foreign land, and the only form of communication were through our translators, Biba and Cephas... So, how do you proclaim the name of Jesus Christ when the only words you know are FO FO, which means Hello.

But God knew we were ready, He knew I was ready, even when I didn't think I was. As the days went on, we were becoming more familiar with the Songhai culture and becoming more engaging and the Songhai continued to be hospitable and receptive.

On Day 1, I had been given my African name, Aissa...which means grateful.

On Day 4 we arrived in this village. I sat down and had the most enjoyable time with one of the ladies in this village. Her name was Aissa. I felt an instant connection with this woman. I was able to talk with her, and about 15 others, about this great God we serve. I sat there, opened my Bible, and began this love story that God had written to me and that I would love to share this story with them as well.

I talked about creation... about the fall and the broken relationship between God and man... and when I got to Noah, I realized that I was sitting in a time such as Noah's time... they were in the desert... we were in the Sahara desert... there was no rain... there was a drought here... and in Genesis it said that "people on earth did what God said was evil and violence was everywhere"... this is true today... and then God asks Noah to build a boat in the middle of the desert... how crazy is that... I continued on to tell them about the sacrifice of the perfect and spotless lamb and the laws... that God said in Deuteronomy... "Respect the LORD your God, and do what He has told you to do. Love Him. Serve the LORD your God with your whole being, and obey the LORD's commands and laws that I am giving you today for your own good" ... I went on to talk about the Prophets talking about a coming Messiah that would right our relationship with God again... and I talked about Jesus, this Messiah that did come... about His birth, His life, His burial, and His resurrection... and I ended with Romans that "as the Scripture says, "Anyone who calls on the Lord will be saved."

The entire time I'm reading this story about God's love for me and His people... I looked up into eyes that were completely captivated by the words of God. I could see the work of God in the eyes of Aissa. She would listen intently to me as I read from this great book, and then she would listen intently as Biba translated. When I finished, Aissa turns to me and tells me... "thank you for sharing this incredible story... I will remember what you said about what God did in the beginning, about the flood, about Jesus... and I will tell everyone else about what you have told me..."

At that moment, I was reminded about what the Bible says in John... about Jesus being the Good Shepherd... "And the sheep listen to the voice of the Shepherd. He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out" ... and Jesus says... "I know know My sheep and My sheep know Me."

The next day, our last day, we visited our last village... Kouli Kwaara... David is a recent believer... His story goes back about 20 years ago when he recieved a NT Bible. This summer, a mission team had come to David's village to paint a clinic... David aproached them and asked them why they were here... and they said with boldness, "We're here to proclaim the name of Jesus Christ." David's eyes lit up and he said, I've waited 20 years for someone to explain this book to me... they shared and David said... "I believe! I want Jesus."

What an honor to have read about his story this summer and then meet him. Sadly, though, David was sick with malaria... there was much sickness here and in many of the villages we visited... cholera and malaria... So, as a team, we circled in front of David's house and prayed for him.

Afterwards, Laura, Biba, and I walked down those dusty streets...praying that God would lead us to His sheep... it was very quiet... Biba said it was very unusual... and like we'd done every day in all the villages we visited, we prayed that God would send the rain, His peace, His presence, His blessing, and health.

We saw the evidence of our prayers... darkness was fleeting... God's sheep were hearing His voice... and the miracle of rain... one day it rained for about 5-10 minutes... another day, thunder and lightning rain on and off for an hour... and another day 2-3 hours of a steady, soaking rain.

His power, presence, and supernatural blessing were most evident...and all we brought was our obedience to pray, to declare the Name of Jesus Christ, and His Word. It was very simple and basic, because the greatest need for all people, not just in Niger, Africa, but in all nations, is the Gospel.

I will end with this verse that God gave me to promise me that He was preparing the way and that He kept His promise....

"Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert." Isaiah 43:19

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

post mission trip

 A friend of ours forwarded this great article on 10 Things to Remember After a Mission Trip from It's a great read & highly practical for trips here.

  1. Your identity is in Christ, not in what you do or have done for Christ. (1 John 3:1)
  2. The greatest need for all people, in all nations, is the gospel; not to become more or less like another culture. There are beautiful expressions of culture in other contexts. There are beautiful expressions of culture in America. There are sinful expressions of culture in both. Be careful not to pit one against another and neglect the gospel which is our greatest need regardless of the culture in which we live.
  3. Be patient with those who know nothing about the country from which you just returned. Patiently endure questions about food and dress and other stereotypical questions.  Think through carefully how you will answer typical questions graciously and in a way that points people back to the gospel and the reason for why you went in the first place.
  4. Even though you have experienced a lot, your knowledge about your host country is not exhaustive. Remember you have only begun to understand their culture. Keep being a learner about the culture that you just began to experience;  not an expert.
  5. This world is not your home––in either place. Fight against the temptation to make your identity in any one culture. We are all away from the Lord, from our true home (2 Cor 5:8,9) and our citizenship is in heaven (Phil 3:20).
  6. Fight romanticism. Your trip (especially if longer than a month) was not all a bed of roses. Take time to journal and remember the hardships of living in a foreign culture. The temptation will be to be to romanticize missions and minimize the difficulties you encountered. Romanticism does not help promote and mobilize people to missions because the hardships are real. Be realistic with others who would consider such a project in the future.
  7. Fight pride. You did not gain standing with God because you lived in a foreign context for a year or a lifetime. We can only stand before God because of the death and resurrection of Christ not because of what we do for Christ. (Romans 8:31 Peter 3:18)
  8. Fight Laziness. As you re-acclimate to life in the States, fight against the temptation to be lazy by neglecting the Word of God and cultivating your relationship with Christ. Relax and be encouraged but be intentional in how you do so in order that you do not fall into sinful patterns of behavior and thought.
  9. Remember to pray for those to whom you ministered. In most cases, you will never see the men and women with whom you spent so much time. For the brothers and sisters in Christ that you met and worshiped with, pray for them as Paul prayed as he remembered them.   (Philippians 1:31 Thessalonians 1:3)
  10. Proclaim the need for the glory of God in the gospel to to be brought to all peoples. Keep the least reached peoples of the world before people who may not know of the need. (Matt 9:38)
 **Taken from; "10 Things To Remember After a Mission Trip" by Jeff Brewer***

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Weekly Prayer Focus: SP & team

Please be in prayer for a team of 3 men who are here this week. These 3 men are from Kentucky & Illinois & are here serving alongside us in various villages. They are starting the week in village "N.D." where they will be investing in the lives of 7 new believers. Next, they will head to Ayorou for 2 days to encourage & strengthen our brothers & sisters there. They will then head down to Boubon to meet with Sam* while also doing a "labor of love" & begin moving some items into the Fox's new house!! On their last day of ministry, they will head back across the river & up to village "KK" to meet with David* for a time of discipleship.

We are VERY excited that these 3 men are here. This is not a "traditional" trip where their time is focused on one village. These are just dear friends of ours (one a long time friend & now 2 new friends) that wanted to come, do life with us & invest their lives into the Songhai. We are so grateful for them & their willingness to serve.

Please pray for them this week as they travel many roads & miles. Pray for their time with each believer - that it would strengthen & encourage everyone mutually, that the times would be uninterrupted, that each believer would grow in boldness & wisdom & that God would add many to their numbers. Pray for the health of the team as the temperatures are high this time of year! Pray for God's name to go forth & for His sheep to hear His voice!

Friday, September 16, 2011

september 2011

Dear Prayer Partners,

Wow! Another AMAZING month of ministry among the Songhai! Doors are being opened, Light is being shone into the darkness, God's sheep ARE hearing His voice!! Words can really, really not express our gratitude for your prayers each month. We ask, you pray & God answers! God is doing amazing things as you pray & come to serve the Songhai. We are so grateful for your support in prayer for us, our family, our team & the Songhai people. We simply stand in awe of a mighty God who is calling the lost to Himself & using us (including you!) as part of His plan. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Please continue to lift up the Songhai as you have done so faithfully every month! And please check out the blog for current prayer requests and awesome testimonies of what God is doing among the Songhai! We can't always fit it all into the newsletter but we've got lots more to share on the blog!

that ALL may know HIM,

Mark & Parker <><

Volunteer Testimony: FBC Hurst (July 2011)

After the death of my parents, people kept saying, "God is going to do something so big and so amazing out of such a terrible thing." When people would say that, I would get angry, hateful, and even more angry at God. How in the world would something good come out of my world being shattered at such a young age? 

I was 18 and had only been home from a mission trip to Russia for six days when all this happened. I questioned everything that I had ever known about God. I couldn't stand to listen to worship music or even touch my bible. I was infuriated by the idea of this God that would do this to me and my sisters. 

Time passed and my heart was softened. I was able to listen to worship music and hold those words close to my heart to help pull me through the hard times. But in the back of my mind, I still doubted the fact that God was going to do something amazing from the death of my parents. 

When the opportunity of going to Africa presented itself, I was excited but nervous at the same time. I couldn't help but question, "Ok, when I come back from Africa, who's going to pass away this time?" It was a stupid fear and no one really understood that anxiety I had about going. Thankfully I was able to push past that fear and go and do God's work. 

I rode with Mark one of the days that we went out to the villages. Its a long drive, so we constantly talked about every topic under the sun. The topic of tattoos came up and I decided to share the story behind mine. It says "Heal the wound" on my back (short for "Heal the wound but leave the scar to remind me of how wonderful You are"). 

We arrived at the village and one group went out to story. They came back all excited to tell us about Dou Dou, a man that had accepted Christ! On the way back to the guest house, we had to wait for the ferry and while waiting, Caroline had told me that Mark talked about my testimony when he was talking to Dou Dou about possibly never seeing his son again (Dou Dou and his son got into a fight and his son ran off). Dou Dou hasn’t seen him since and Mark was able to say, “We have a girl on the team who lost both of her parents in a car wreck and she still loves the Lord. You may never get your son back but, with Christ, we have this peace with us that’s unexplainable!” 

My eyes instantly filled up with tears. It was amazing to me that my testimony had been used in leading Dou Dou to Christ. God was able to use Mark to share my testimony with this man who had only heard about Christ a few times and to me, THAT right there was what people meant two years ago when they said God IS going to do something amazing through this tragedy.

Alicia Brandon

Monday, September 12, 2011

Weekly Prayer Focus: New Villages

Please pray for the new villages that were found last week by the team from Mt Olive. The team spent 2 days entering into 7 new villages along a stretch of road that we had yet to encounter. In each village, the team met the chief & gave him a Bible in his language and a set of cassettes with the Gospel message while also prayerwalking & storying with groups of men & women.

In 6 of these villages, the chiefs warmly received us & invited us to share our message with those that lived there & pray for his village. In one village, after the team storied with a group of men, 2 young men asked to hear more. After sharing the Gospel with them in more depth, the men said they believed & asked what they needed to do next. After hearing that baptism is one of the first steps after salvation, the young men asked to be baptized right then & there! While they were being baptized, one of their friends walked up, asked what they were doing, & after hearing a Gospel presentation himself, believed & was baptized!!

The story doesn't end there ... after follow-up today with those 3 young men who believed last week, FOUR more men believed!! Words cannot express how deeply grateful we are for your prayers last week for these new villages. Lives are changed for ETERNITY because they heard the Gospel & believed in their hearts & confessed with their mouths that Jesus is LORD! Thank you for praying that many would hear & believe! Your prayers were answered.

Please continue to pray for these young men who are embarking on a new life & on a new path. They will undoubtedly face many obstacles & persecution. Pray that they would be strong in their faith, they would become unified as a new family, they would seek to grow in wisdom & that God would protect their minds & hearts.

Pray also for the other villages that heard the Good News last week. Pray that many who heard would not forget the words of Truth & Life that were spoken to them. Pray that many would choose to believe.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Weekly Prayer Focus: Mt Olive team

Please be in prayer for Mt Olive Baptist Church this week as they are serving among the Songhai for the next 7 days. They will be spending time on the Southern Banks exploring villages that have ZERO witness, discipling believers in villages towards the Mehanna Road and encouraging the believers in Ayorou.

The team of 5 from Mt Olive is here on a vision trip of sorts. Our goal this week is to show them villages where there is no current work being done, villages where there are a handful of believers & then a village where there is a thriving church. Pray for them as they see & experience each of these villages; pray that God would burden their hearts for the Songhai that have no access to the Gospel; pray that they God would ignite a passion in them to take His name to those that have never heard; pray that they would be faithful in boldly sharing His name in whatever village they are in each day.

Pray for the villages on the Southern Banks that currently have no work being done among them. For some people this week, it may very well be the first time they have heard the Truth of the Gospel. Pray that eyes would be open, hearts would be penetrated, veils would be lifted & lives would be changed.

Pray also for the team's time with the handful believers they will meet with that live in villages towards the Mehanna Road. Pray that the believers would be strengthened & that they would be burdened to carry the Light to their families & friends that live among them so that a church may be started in their villages & the Gospel would go forth.

Pray for the team's time with the church in Ayorou. Pray that they would be able to encourage the believers by sharing Scripture & testimonies with them. Pray that the believers would be challenged to remain unified despite circumstances & persecution and that they would continue to grow in wisdom & boldness.

Lastly, pray for health & safety for the team. It's still a very hot time of year & the team will be doing lots of traveling & lots of walking. The roads to these Southern Banks villages are VERY rough, so please pray for their safety as they traverse the roads each day.

Thank you for your faithful prayer support for the Songhai team & all our volunteers that serve alongside us.