Please be in prayer for the village of "ND" this week. This is a village where we have recently begun working in. It was only a few months ago, in September, that we had first ever stepped foot into this village. A group from Mt Olive Baptist Church in Knoxville was here to assist us in finding villages on a road that had little to no work being done among them.
On the first day of sharing Christ in this village with that team, 3 men immediately accepted Christ & were baptized. When we followed up a few days later, 3 more accepted Christ. And the numbers have continued to grow with those who are choosing to leave behind their false religion & trust in Christ as their one & only Savior.
For many Songhai, this break from not only their religion but also their community is a high price & many are not willing to pay it. For those that do believe in Christ, it is always a pull to return to their former life, especially when persecution arises. But, for a few, no matter the amount of persecution or temptation to return to "normal," they choose to pay the price knowing that a greater reward awaits them.
This is the case in "ND." While a dozen or so have professed faith in Christ, a handful of them are truly paying the price & making radical changes in their lives to show others that they follow the True God. Only Christ can take a man who grew up in an Islamic school, was taught to chant verses all day long, & memorize the Koran & bring him out of darkness into Light. Only Christ can cause that man to stand against persecution & make bold statements to religious leaders who persecute him so that all may know what he now believes is the Truth. Only Christ can uphold this man as he & a few others stand alone in a sea of people who bow down to a false god. These are your modern day Daniels.
Praise the Father that these men have chosen to trust in Him & follow Him at all costs. Praise the Father that He still saves & is faithful. Praise Him that He is bringing Songhai men from darkness to Light.
Pray for these young believers. Pray that they would continue to stand strong against the wave of unbelief that surrounds them. Pray that they would grow in their faith & knowledge of Him. Pray that they would be bold as they share the hope they have in Christ with others. Pray that many, many more would step away from the "crowd" & choose to follow Christ. Pray for protection of their minds as they are persecuted & pray for strength when unbelief, doubt or temptation creeps in.
As I reflect back on special moments during our mission trip, I want to record our time with the believers. We met in a small mud brick room, perhaps 8' x 12' no window, with everyone crowded around the walls sitting on benches, stools, bags of grain or water bottles, thatched roof overhead and few sitting on the dirt floor. I recall thinking "God chose to send His son to be born in a place that was probably very much like this room". As I* gave his testimony and then B*, I was encouraged to see how strong their faith is. They were so happy we had come and I am so happy that I went, even though I was afraid to go.
Now that I have met the Believers, I know that I have nothing to fear. We were covered in prayer & I have never felt safer. We were met with such love and graciousness in the most humble of settings. As we closed our meeting with small groups of 3 or 4 praying for each other, the hum and harmony of prayer in two languages, two cultures, two races being lifted up to God in love surely made God smile. I will never forget this moment.
Yes I could have just sent a check to buy things for the people rather than the money I spent to go. The food or medical supplies would have been appreciated, but those gifts would have been consumed and used in mere moments in a country so poor. We went to share the name of Jesus. We shared the bread of eternal life, and had we just sent a check, we would have missed out on the many blessings we received by just going and praying with them.
One man, Ba*, accepted Christ after our prayer time. I pray that he will grow stronger in faith and that God will shield him from persecution. And most of all, I pray that he will tell others about Jesus and others will receive the Bread of Eternal Life and they will tell others, and they will tell others, and at some point, the darkness in Niger will be overcome by the Light of Jesus.
On the first day in the village, Wanda, Becka, and I accompanied Sarah into the village to invite children to come to Bible School. As we ventured out, I remember being hesitant and reserved. We rounded up 10-12 children and started back to to the compound. The children were very loving and any reservations I had disappeared. The children spontaneously started singing Fo Fo Ba Ba (Thank You Father God).The children had learned the song last summer when 2 interns spent the summer in Boubon. Fo Fo Ba Ba is also one of the songs we had learned to sing in Zarma so Wanda, Becka and I joined the singing. My only thought now was how special this moment was and I thanked God. Back through the crowd we came parting cattle and the crowd of market day - a parade in the name of Jesus Christ.
Please be in prayer for the believers in Ayorou this week. They have recently dealt with an issue that could have easily divided the church. As the community gathered to watch them fight with each other, they instead saw the believers offer forgiveness. As the community gathered to mock them, they were instead amazed at how easily the believers showed grace to each other.
These believers still have a long way to go in the maturity of their faith but, like all of us, they are daily being conformed into Christ's likeness as they follow Him. They were able to take instruction & discipline without resentment or conflict.
Please continue to pray for these believers as they face persecution & even attempts of division among the church. Pray for their unity. Pray for them to grow in their faith. Pray for them to continue to show grace to each other & anyone who "wrongs" them. Pray for boldness in their faith. Pray that others in the village would continue to see Christ shine through them.
Again, thank you for another month of your faithful prayer support. But even more so, thank you for a YEAR of praying for the Songhai. If you have not seen Mark's post on the blog about all that God did in 2011, you need to check it out right now! Your prayers have played a HUGE role in all that God has done this past year. And we anxiously await all that God is going to do through your prayers in 2012. We also are anxiously awaiting seeing many of you on this side of the world as you partner with us in speaking the name of Jesus boldly & often in places its never been spoken & to people who've never heard trusting that God's sheep will hear His voice.
We cannot say it enough: your prayers are SO important to the ministry among the Songhai. We are forever grateful for the time you sit aside each day, week or month to lift up the Songhai & pray for their salvation. Thank you, thank you. May 2012 be a year of salvation and freedom for the Songhai!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas time and experienced the love of Jesus during the Holiday season. We here in Accra had a nice Christmas. We were able to buy a few gifts for many of the guys such as shirts, mosquito repellent, soap and handkerchiefs. We also bought a lot of apples, bananas, bread, crackers and some cookies to go along with their Nescafe instant coffee, Lipton tea, Millo hot chocolate and water. The guys really enjoyed having a little time of fun and friendship.
We do always strive to be good stewards of all the resources God provides us with. We have taken Matthew 25 seriously. We have used the resources to buy untold amounts of bread, fruit and other food items to help give some nutrition to the guys. We have made a shower and toilet facilities available to them, we have handed out over 300 shirts, over 300 pairs of flip-flops. We have provided medicine to help with anything from malaria to pimples to pink-eye, first-aid for injuries ranging from cuts and scrapes, to twisted knees and sore muscles from carrying loads too heavy. We have two little schools we have helped them start so they can learn to speak English and to read and write and to do basic math. We have passed out somewhere between one and two thousand Gospel cassettes, Jesus videos and bibles. We have been able to now place four Proclaimers (audio New Testaments in the Zarma Language) in areas where they can come listen to the words of God. We have fixed bicycle tires and brakes, we have provided them with soap and a bucket so they can wash their clothes, we even let them use the dryer here at the house to dry their clothes so they don't have to wear them wet as they normally would have to do here.
There is so much we have been able to do and we thank God for you all and for your faithful response to God's calling to come alongside us in this ministry. There is much more to be done and I know God will continue to supply all our needs. I truly thank God for His faithfulness.
Please know that all this has been done to honor and glorify God. We have seen so much going on in the lives of some of these young men. One young guy was preparing to return home last week when he came to greet us goodbye. He told of hearing the Gospel for the first time, he told of believing it was true and his desire to know more. He spoke of the kindness and love he has felt from the Christians who have come to share with him.
We have people now coming to us asking for cassettes. One guy came to the house just two days ago, I had never seen him before, he was a lot older than most of the onion guys, maybe 30 to 32 years old. He drank a cup of coffee, then started looking around the kitchen, as he spied the box of cassettes on the table he looked intently at me and said he needed some of them. He said he had heard them in the village when one of the young guys brought them there last spring, now he had his own radio cassette player and wanted to have his own copies. What if I had none to give him? What if we had never given the ones to the young guy who took them to the village in the first place?
One young guy told Mitch* he had come to believe that Christianity was true because of the kindness, compassion and Love he felt from us and from all the Mission team members who had come to share with him from our Bible. He had heard for the first time about Jesus through this ministry. What if we had not been able to be a part of his life, what if we were not taking Matthew 25 seriously when Jesus talks about being hungry, thirsty, cold, sick and lonely?
Just this week we had six of the guys listening to the Proclaimer here at the house. They were listening to the birth of Jesus when they got into a rather long and detailed discussion about whether Jesus really was the Son of God and was He the Messiah?
It has been amazing to be here and to watch as God has worked in the hearts and lives of so many. I praise God for you all and for your constant prayers and support.
Now, we are seeing God and hearing Him as he directs us into 2012. We see many wonderful and exciting changes coming. We feel God is going to use us in new ways in the next few months, we feel God has allowed us to come to a time of growing and reaching out to new areas. We feel as if Mitch will take a new more pastoral role here in Accra. I believe I am to go to the village next year for a period of time to work on my language skills and to also share with them what we have been trying to share here. We have many relationships that are extending from one place to the other and we want to be there to allow God to work through us there also.
Mitch* just passed up an offer in the north that would have given him a solid future financially, he said he needed to follow Jesus and share the Gospel rather than do what was offered him there. Please join me in prayer for all that God is doing, that I will be faithful to do all and only what God would have me do. Pray that I will be faithful to be a good steward of not only money but also of time. Pray that I will be able to spend the time wisely this year doing all that needs to be done to make each end of the ministry effective. Pray that I will always and only be in the will of God.
Praise God for His Son Jesus.
Praise God for all He has done in the hearts and lives of so many here.
Pray that as God continues to work here that many will accept Jesus as Savior.
Pray for each Gospel cassette, Jesus video, Proclaimer that through these God will speak to the hearts of many and that many will come to know Jesus as Savior.
Pray for Mitch and his family as we make changes and shift things around. This is a very tenuous time for them, as they are looking to add a new family member by the end of March. Pray for them as they prepare for this new little baby!
Pray for Barbara* as she is having a difficult time with this pregnancy. Next week she needs a blood transfusion, the doctors agree this is vital to the health of her and the baby. This is beyond their means but we decided to do it and trust God to provide.
Pray for us as we feel God lead us in new directions. Pray that we will be faithful to do all we can to glorify and honor God in all we do, pray we will be prepared to go through whatever door where ever it may be to share the Good News of the Gospel of Christ.
Thank you and God bless you all.
In His Service,
Please be in prayer for FBC Franklin, Ky this week as they minister to the Songhai here in Niger. After a delayed flight & many ups & downs, they finally arrived in Niamey last night ... & only 2 days late! We had to do some quick rearranging of their schedules but they'll be hitting the field tomorrow. They'll be spending time in Boubon conducting a VBS for 30-50 children while also prayerwalking the areas of Boubon in the afternoon & doing C2C. They'll also visit the believers in Ayorou & encourage them. One of their other activities in this trip is music based. They'll be doing a concert of hand chimes in Boubon, Ayorou & Niamey.
This team has already hit a few bumps in the road (spending 2 nights in Paris was not on the original plans) but they are facing their adversities with great joy & strength. Please pray that the rest of their trip may be smooth sailing from here on out!
Pray for the children in Boubon who will hear of Jesus' love for them & learn Bible stories as well. Pray that, even as children, His sheep would hear His voice. Pray that the lessons they learn & the truths they hear would not depart from their hearts & minds.
Pray for the men & women who the team will encounter while canvasing the village in the afternoon. Pray that many would be open to hearing the Gospel & many would respond. Pray that the team would be bold as they shamelessly declare His Word to those that have never heard.
Pray for the believers in Ayorou. Pray that they would be encouraged & strengthened by this time with their fellow brothers & sisters in Christ. Pray that as the team desires to meet some of their physical needs, the believers would see this as a gift from God & it would increase their faith in Him.
Pray for our translators, C & B, who will be working long hours & also sharing the Gospel with the men, women & children of Boubon & Ayorou. Pray that their minds would be clear as they translate & that they would also boldly proclaim His love.
Pray for safety & health for the team as they travel many miles to share the Hope of Christ with the Songhai!