Saturday, December 31, 2011

where we've been

The following is a letter I wrote to our Songhai Team as 2011 draws to a close.  I wanted to share it with you as well:

Have you ever noticed that it’s hard to see growth, at least on a daily basis?  To just look at Isabelle I would say she pretty much looks the same as she did this time last year.  However, behind our kitchen door we keep a chart to measure her height.  It is when we compare today’s mark with last years that I see how much she has grown in a year. 

It’s hard to see growth in ministry too.  When you’re in the trenches day in and day out, it’s tough to pause and look back on where you’ve come from.  It’s tempting to think, “We’re where we were this time last year.” 

Now the problem is that we don’t have a spot behind a kitchen door to measure this kind of growth.   That’s why I’m writing this.  I hope to put a couple "markers on the door" of Songhai ministry to be able to see what God has done this past year. 

Here are just some of the highlights:

·      Two villages that had previously had NO believers now have a witness.  Read that sentence again.  Two villages that for their entire existence have not had anyone believe or anyone to be a light now have a Gospel witness! 
·      27 men and women prayed to receive Christ and were baptized!
·      The Gospel was clearly preached in 16 different villages.
·      Two men, both in their 50’s and from different villages share the same testimony: “I’ve been waiting 20 years for someone to tell me about Jesus.”
·      A new long-term unit joined our team.
·      We hosted 12 volunteer teams and 2 summer interns. 
·      We established a three-year partnership with Living Hope Baptist Church who will be sending 4 teams a year to work on “The Road to Karma.”
·      We re-upped our partnership with FBC Hurst as they continue to minister on the Mehanna Road.
·      We established a new partnership with Mount Olive Baptist Church.
·      We created the E2E ministry strategy and implemented it in all our work.
·      We trained and sent out our first short term national partners.

It is clear to see how powerfully God has moved this past year.  Thank you for your faithfulness and your obedience to engage, equip, and empower the Songhai!

Together, advancing the Kingdom of Christ in Songhai lands,

Friday, December 30, 2011

thank you to 2011 teams

We have been reminded over and over in 2011 about the power of prayer.  We've seen God do some amazing things that we just can't explain away with strategy or personal cleverness.  God simply did what only God can do and we were so blessed to have a front-row view.  We cannot tell you enough times how grateful we are for your faithful prayers over the past year.  You are such a huge and critical part of our ministry among the Songhai.

Volunteer teams also play a huge and critical role in our work among the Songhai.  We are continually amazed that God is burdening more and more hearts in churches in the States to come and share the Good News with the Songhai.  So many Songhai heard the name of Jesus for the first time because a small group from the States was willing to come and speak the name of Jesus.

We just wanted to take a blog post to thank you, our prayer partners and the 12 (12th actually comes in tomorrow) short term teams we hosted in 2011!

Thank you:
Living Hope Baptist Church, Bowling Green, KY
First Baptist Church Hurst, Hurst, TX
Emily and Erin - Summer Interns from Living Hope
Trammell Creek Baptist Church, Greensburg, KY
IMB Media Team from South Africa
Mount Olive Baptist Church, Knoxville, TN
Shawn Perry, Blake Richey, and Tom Bardwell
First Baptist Church, Franklin, KY

We are so grateful that you took the Gospel where it had never been before!  We look forward to seeing you again soon on this side of the pond!

The Songhai Team

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Weekly Prayer Focus: Boubon

Please be in prayer for Boubon this week. As you know, the Foxes have officially moved to Boubon & are getting settled into life there. Please pray for them as they walk the streets of Boubon each day. Pray that they would be bold to share their faith. Pray that they would find men & women of peace. Pray that they would begin to form deep, meaningful relationships with a few key people in Boubon. Pray for their children to begin to develop friendships as well as get a grasp of the language. Pray for quick adjustments to life in a village.

Pray for M*, our national partner, who continues to spend time in Boubon discipling the believers. Pray that he would continue to be bold in sharing his faith with others in the village. Pray that he would be faithful to teach the believers the Word & disciple them. Pray that God would protect him as he travels each week from Niamey to Boubon & back. Pray for him as he conducts a Christmas gathering for the first time in Boubon. He hopes to show the Jesus film & read the Christmas story from God's word as well as share a meal with the believers & their families. Pray that ears would be opened & hearts would be changed.

Pray for the believers: Sam*, the first believer in Boubon. Pray that as he celebrates his first Christmas, he would share this wonderful story with his family who has yet to believe. Pray that his family would hear the Truth & understand it & believe. Pray for Zach*, the newest believer in Boubon. Pray for his faith to grow exponentially as he learns more & more of God's Word. Pray that he would also be faithful to share his faith with his friends & family.

Pray that many, many more would come to faith in Jesus Christ in Boubon. Pray that Boubon may see it's first church in 2012.

Monday, December 19, 2011

NEW Songhai shirts!!

The most AWESOME designer Joneo has created some fabulous new shirts for the Songhai team for 2012!! A lot of our volunteers from 2011 took the Songhai logo template to their printers & had shirts made for their trips. It was so cool to see the Songhai logo walking all over Niger last year!

Well Joneo has stepped it up a notch & designed a new shirt for this year! As you all know, one of our founding principles as a Songhai team is that God's sheep will hear His voice. It affects everything we do in terms of our ministry. Joneo & Mark collaborated to put that idea into a t-shirt. We absolutely love how it turned out!

So if you are planning on heading this way next year, print out the instructions (or email us for a PDF file with specific logo sizes) & take them to your printer. Print it on a green shirt, blue shirt, black shirt ... we don't care! Even if you are not heading this way this year but the Songhai have become a huge part of your heart & life, we'd love for you to represent in the States!

The instructions are easy. Print the design, take it to your local printer & ask them to cut it out & print it on a shirt (they have fancy gadgets for scanning it in & getting it on the shirt), pick it up & pay for it when it's ready & then look cool in your new sheep shirt.

Fox Family Prayer Letter

If you would like to also be a part of the Fox's prayer team (specific to their family & ministry in Boubon), please email them (found at bottom of newsletter).

news from Gomer: December 2011

Dear Friends,

I want to thank you for your prayers and support.  It has been two years now since I came to Accra to seek the Songhai.

As Christmas approaches I want to take the opportunity to Praise God for giving us His Son Jesus.  Praise God this little baby came to be our Savior. I want to take this time to also praise God for all He is doing here.

Praise God for healing Darin* and giving him strength.  He told me the other day he felt better than he had in quite some time.  It is good to have him laughing and smiling again.  Pray for Darin*, he is caught between the life, values and faith of a Muslim, and trying to understand and accept that Jesus is the true way to God.

Praise God for our two little schools we have started here for the Songhai people.  We are trying to be a part of the life of the Songhai here in a helpful manner.  We have heard them say they needed education and we have tried to come alongside them and help them create educational opportunities.   Trinity Baptist is running the evening classes in Nima and Youso a Songhai man is running the evening classes in the Onion Market.  Pray that through these classes God will touch many lives. That through relationships formed in the schools, through being able to hear and understand, through being able to read God's word that many will come to know Jesus as their Savior.  Pray for our little schools as we are to seek ways to fund them.

Praise God for the many Songhai friends we have here.  Mitch* pointed out not too long ago that when I first came here, I could hardly find the Songhai, but now everyday they find us!  Praise God that many are hearing the words of God and are being exposed to Jesus for the first time in their lives.  Pray that God will pierce their hearts with His loving kindness and the truth will penetrate their lives and many will come to accept Jesus as Savior and Lord.

Praise God for the Onion Guys.  They have become as family in so many ways.  They come early in the mornings, drink Nescafe, tea and hot chocolate.  Eat bread and sit and talk, take a quick nap, and then go out for a day of selling onions on the streets.  They come back late in the day tired, hungry and thirsty.  They eat more bread, drink more coffee, tea and hot chocolate, they rest up a bit and head out to the places they sleep for the evening.  We laugh together, and we cry together.  They have given me glimpses of the life of being a onion seller from a third world country in West Africa.  God has shown me a greater picture of the depths of His Love.  Pray for the onion guys, pray that they will all one day know Jesus as Savior.

Praise God for the families back in Niger of the onion guys.  I get an occasional call ever now and then asking how is someones son, are they alright, are they healthy, are we helping them be good men.  I hear from the guys of Moms and Dads they miss and long to see again.  I hear stories of home and I see in their eyes the longing to go home for many of them.  Pray for the families of these young men.  Pray that through the work here many of these families will also be exposed to the Gospel and that they will have the opportunity to accept the truth of Jesus as Savior.

Praise God for Mitch* and his family.  They are truly wonderful people and I have grown so very close to them.  I praise God for putting a man and his family like them here to be a family to me, to be a partner in this ministry with me, someone to encourage me, to show me the way sometimes and to help me understand people who are so culturally different from me.  God has used Mitch* to show me so many things, to help me to understand so much and to be a good friend.    Pray for this family, that God will bless them, that as they seek to understand Him better they will be drawn to minister together also.  Pray for Mitch's wife as she is seeking Jesus, as she tries to understand all that is going on inside her heart and mind right now.  Pray for the children, M and U.  Pray for the expected little addition to the family.  He or she is due to arrive sometime in March.  Pray for a healthy baby and a healthy mommy.  Pray for Mitch as he tries to be strong and supportive throughout this time.

Praise God for the H family.  They are Southern Baptist International Mission Board missionaries here and have truly become great friends.  They run the logistics of three West African countries from here and have helped me so much in so many ways.  They helped me get my immigration papers through the system, helped me get housing I could afford, they have done so much for me words can never do them service.  My first bout with malaria Jimmy went and bought the medicine I needed and made a special trip here to bring it too me.  They have helped us in our daily lives and in the ministry, the onion guys all know them.  I praise God for them always.  Pray for them, after 22 years in West Africa, they are set to retire in April.   They will be moving back to the US to care for aging parents.  They and the work they do here will be greatly missed.  Pray for the young couple, the W family, who have come here to fill in for them when they retire.
  • Praise God for healing Darin*, praise Him for healing many of these young guys when they have become sick or wounded.
  • Praise God and pray for our little schools.
  • Praise God and pray for our many Songhai friends here.
  • Praise God and pray for the Onion Guys.
  • Praise God and pray for the families of the Onion Guys.
  • Praise God and pray for Mitch* and his family.
  • Praise God and pray for the H family.
  • Praise God and pray for the W family.
  • Pray for me that I will always and only seek to do the will of God as we seek the Songhai and minister to them.
       In His Service,

december 2011 newsletter

Dear Prayer Partners,

Can y'all believe that it is December?! This year is almost finished! We can hardly believe it, but as we look back at the last year, we are so thankful for all God has done among the Songhai. Thank you for PRAYING! We are MOST thankful for your faithful prayers for the Songhai people & we are in AWE at how many of those prayers we've seen answered first hand. Oh to recount all the things that God has done this year as a result of your prayers!! It has been an incredible year of ministry & your prayers have played a VITAL role in it! Thank you!!

Thank you for GIVING! As you most of you well know, your gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering are what keep us here. They give us a roof over our heads, a car to drive, gas to fill the tank, funds to support our ministry as well as pay our salary! We could not do what we do or be where we are without your gifts! Thank you, on behalf of the Songhai team & every other IMB missionary across the world, for giving to this offering & helping spread the name of Christ to those that have never heard.

And thank you for GOING! We had such a busy year this year with lots of volunteers (& even MORE signed up for 2012!). We are so grateful for the time & resources you sacrificed so that you personally could share His love with the Songhai - with those that have never heard or to encourage those that have made the hard, yet life changing, choice to follow Him. Thank you for also encouraging us with your presence & friendships!

Words simply cannot describe how thankful we are for each of you. I'm almost in tears as I type this because I really wish I could convey just how much we love & appreciate your commitment to pray for a people halfway across the world, so that they might know Christ as their Savior! Thank you. We cannot wait to see all God does in 2012!

that ALL may know HIM,

Mark & Parker <><

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Weekly Prayer Focus: Mehanna Road

Please be in prayer for the believers on the Mehanna Road this week. For the last 3.5 years, there has been a constant Christian presence on the Road; a national partner that has committed his time to sharing the Gospel & discipling those that believe.

The Songhai team has been blessed with 2 national partners (L&A) who committed so much of their time & efforts to the people on this road. Unfortunately, their time there has come to an end. We wish these men the best as one begins a new life with his bride & the other begins a new journey of his own. We are grateful for their many years partnering with us in sharing the Message with the Songhai.

For those on the Mehanna Road who have chosen to believe, however, they no longer these national partners but they do have each other. They have the Word (whether in written or oral form) & they have the lessons that have been taught to them from the discipleship conferences or when members of First Hurst have spent time on the road.

Please pray for these men as they continue to grow in their relationship with Christ. Pray that they will continue in any of the meetings that L&A had begun with them. Pray they will grow into a church. Pray that they will take the torch, so to speak, & be the light in their communities & villages. Pray they will grow in unity & love for one another. Pray that the absence of these national partners would make their own faith grow stronger.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Volunteer Testimony: FB Hurst, Discipleship Conference


    We, a team of three from FBC Hurst, Texas, arrived in Niamey on October 18th to conduct a conference for the believers of the surrounding villages.  There were eighteen men from the villages along with five other believers from the local church in which the conference was held.  There were farmers, fisherman, a metal worker, a merchant, and a gardener, all attending to grow in their faith as well as to worship and fellowship with other believers. The focus of the conference was to equip each man to tell his testimony, present the gospel, and be able to tell the Creation to Christ story.  In addition we sang hymns, prayed, ate meals, played games, laughed and cried together.  The thread that bound us all together is the belief in and a love for Jesus Christ. It was a beautiful picture of the church at work. At the end of the conference, we the teachers were humbled and blessed as each of the believers had contributed from their meager resources to purchase each of us a gift. It is the first time in my four years of going to Niger that I have seen African men, out of love; want to do something for me. We are amazed at how God is working in the lives. We ask that you pray these men will be bold in carrying the Gospel to their villages.