Thursday, May 31, 2012

building the Songhai into your church's DNA

One of our partnering churches, Living Hope Baptist Church, has taken their partnership with the Songhai seriously & has infiltrated praying for the Songhai into every part of their church. The missions department promotes & send teams to work among the Songhai four times a year, the church as a whole prays for the Songhai, & even the children learn about the Songhai & pray for them, too. 

After one of the church's recent trips to Niger, they had a special day for their children's groups to teach about the Songhai & pray for them. Here are some pictures of that day & a testimony from Dwan, who's been to Niger twice to serve the Songhai & also serves in the church's children's ministry ...

walls were covered with souvenirs from recent trips to Niger

songhai songs were taught to children

recent volunteers gave their testimonies about their trips

the children learned about the Songhai through testimonies & songs

"Our church's commitment to serve and to share the Gospel with the Songhai began many years ago.  In those first years, our church would send teams to do ministry work among the Songhai people from prayer-walking to VBS to C2C to discipleship.  When a team returned there would be opportunities to share testimony of God at Work among the Songhai.  In recent years, our church has worked to build the Songhai into the DNA of the church.  The past few years our Children's Ministry has spent an entire Sunday morning teaching about the Songhai people.  Teams share testimony about past trips.  Also, information is taught to the children about the Songhai people as far as their culture, beliefs, traditions, and so much more.  Children can experience tangible things like beating an African drum, pounding millet, and trying on an African skirt.  Our children and adults worship singing a Songhai song in the Zarma language.  From adults to teens to children, our church strategically shares and incorporates the Songhai people into our congregation in hopes that people will respond in one of three ways:  to pray, to give and/or to go."    - Dwan Graham

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Weekly Prayer Focus: Rain & Crops

Please pray for our Songhai friends who are desperate to have good crops this season. The rainy season has begun somewhat but not nearly as plentiful as it needs to be. Last year, the rains did not come as steadily & sure as they needed to in order to produce good crops. Because there was little to no harvest for many farmers, the Songhai (as well as other Africans in our region) are on the brink of a famine.

Please pray for the rains to come now & come often. Pray for the crops of the Songhai to grow bountifully so that this time next year, they will have more than enough harvest to last them.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Newsletter: May 2012

Dear Prayer Partners,

Is May really almost over?! We apologize for the delay in sending this newsletter. We've had an exciting & busy & hot month here! We were able to host a team of 11 from Campbellsville University (our alma mater) for 2 weeks & enjoyed it immensely!! The Lord did some amazing things in & through this team & we're excited that we may see many of these students back on the field soon. You can read testimonies & updates & see pictures & videos of their trip on the blog.

Isabelle celebrated her 4th birthday this past month. We are still beside ourselves that our baby is four years old. Many of you can probably remember getting the email 4 years ago from us while we were in Senegal that she had made her grand entrance into the world. Even something like celebrating our daughter's birthday reminds us how blessed we are to have all of you as prayer partners. You not only pray for the people we work among & for our ministries, but you also pray faithfully for our family. You've prayed for us from the moment we stepped foot off the plane into this country & through all our ups & downs & even as we welcomed our first child into the world. Words cannot express how grateful we are for your prayers for us!

that ALL may know HIM,

Mark & Parker Phillips <><

Photos & Videos: Campbellsville University

Here's a very short collection of the thousands of photos that the students from CU took during their 2 week trip here.

To see a video compilation done by one of the students, go here. (I tried to upload it onto the blog but youtube was not cooperating!)

update on urgent request

Let me start this post by saying that we are all sinners in need of grace. Whether you've trusted in Christ for one day or 50 years, we still need His forgiveness & grace because of our sin. For some of us, our sin is rather subtle & not obvious to others. For some, it may be more blatant or addictive & something that has to be fully overpowered by the transforming work of Christ.

For our new brother in Christ, he had such a sin-issue that had not yet been submitted to the authority of Christ. Unfortunately, it reared it's ugly head within about 3 days of his conversion. He believed & was baptized on a Friday, ridiculed & persecuted by an entire village of Saturday, attended his first church service on Sunday, allowed this specific sin to creep up on Monday & was forced to leave the village by Tuesday.

For the team that was here volunteering, they got to see a wide range of things some missionaries only see over the course of many years ... but they saw it in 5 days! For our new believer, a sin that he has struggled with for years came out in full force. It was obvious that Satan was trying to undo everything that God was making new in the life of this man. As a team & with our volunteers, we began to think, "What kind of testimony is this going to show to the village? They all know this man is now a believer in Christ & what will they think now?"

But as God clearly shows through Scripture & specifically in Genesis 50, "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good." What seemed like could be a train wreck, God used for His glory. As Tuesday unfolded & all the events came to light, at the end of the day what was shown to the village was a story of grace & forgiveness. For this culture, when someone is caught in this specific sin (regardless of their faith), the villagers take it upon themselves to dole out punishment ... & it is not pretty.

What the village of Boubon saw instead was that although this man did deserve to pay for his crime, he received forgiveness instead. What they saw was that although this man was obviously in the wrong, he was imparted grace.

This story did not play out like any of us would've imagined. But God knew. The village of Boubon would have never seen such a public display of what our faith in Christ is truly like without this event ever taking place. They would've never seen such a loving act of forgiveness & grace if this situation did not occur.

One of the newer believers in Boubon said to us, "Now I see. Now I see that you truly live out your faith in everything you do." This was not the ending to the story we would've thought, but God knew it would be. "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28) God knew that He would receive even more glory this way. And, for that, we praise Him.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Volunteer Testimony: Campbellsville University (May 2012)

Coming to work with the Songhai people has truly been a life-changing experience. I have wanted to come to Africa & am so blessed to have had this opportunity. This trip was so far outside of my comfort zone on so many levels, but I loved every single minute of it.

It is one thing to know the Gospel & believe it. Actually putting the Gospel into action is a completely different thing. I have really felt the Lord moving & working in everything that has happened during our 2 weeks in Niger. I have grown up in church & have heard the Great Commission more times than I count. This trip completely encompassed everything Christ commands of us in the Great Commission. In our work with the Songhai people, our team experienced leading one man to Christ, baptizing two believers & discipling new believers.

Spending time with the Songhai people in the village of Boubon has truly opened my eyes to a completely different culture. While on this trip I really feel like God allowed me to see more & more of His heart than I have seen before. I was able to live life with these people that God created & dearly loves. The Lord opened my eyes to see the things that He cares about and the things that He calls us to care about. there are still so many people who need Jesus and don't even know who He is. I've never met anyone before this trip who didn't know anything about Jesus. God desires for no one to perish, but wants everyone to come to Him for eternal life.

I'm so grateful for this experience to spend time with the Songhai and share about Christ with them. They are such a gracious & hospitable people. The Lord has placed them on my heart and I will be continuing to pray for them after leaving Niger.

- Kaela Vessels, student at Campbellsville University

Friday, May 25, 2012

News from the Saleebys - May 2012

Hello Dear Friends,

Randy was in Accra, Ghana this last month teaching the Songhai believers there. He had a great time of fellowship with old friends from our very first term there.

Our volunteer team from Campbellsville University came on the 9th.  They have done a great job.  Painted the school buildings in village B and storied throughout.  My, they have a lot of energy!  They were very active even in the heat of 107 degrees.  They kept going for Jesus! They will be missed.  Love having volunteers to come alongside of us and minister to the Songhai.

Susan and Biba (local blvr) continue to prayer walk through the KK area of Niamey.  Praying for someone to whom we can story and evangelize; someone who will listen.

Kids Clubs are going well too!  Kids love the stories of David.  Pray that we can reach their parents as well.  One Mom was interested in some of the stories.

We are looking forward to our summer missionary to arrive on the 23rd.  Please keep him (Mark R) in your prayers.  He will be learning the language and living in village “B” with a young couple we have been living out there.  He has a lot of adjustments to make. As the young couple also has three little girls…  It will be an adjustment for all.

We trust all you Mother’s out there had a wonderful Mother’s Day. Happy belated Mother’s Day to you all…

We want to thank the Ladies of Hoffmeyer Baptist Church for all your prayers for us.   You all have a special place in our hearts.  Your faithfulness is amazing.  Thank you ladies!

Starting to gear up for a summer full of volunteers.  Please pray for their preparations, flights and their health.

Please check out our blog.  Prayer requests and other things are posted there....

Thank you for your prayers and you gifts to the Co-operative program and the Lottie Moon Offering.

We could NOT do our ministry without you.

Your servants for Christ,

Susan & Randy Saleeby

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Weekly Prayer Focus: Summer Intern

Please be in prayer for Mark R, our Songhai Team summer intern. He is arriving today for a 6 week stay in our wonderful country! Over the next few days, he will be oriented to Songhai culture as well as doing some intense language lessons. He will then head to Boubon where he will serve with the Foxes in ministering to the Songhai men there.

Pray for Mark as he adjusts to the heat & culture & living conditions (his housing situation is a few steps up from Emily & Erin's last year!).

Pray for Mark as he spends 6 days in 6 hrs/day language lessons. Pray that he would be able to retain as much as he can so that he can communicate to the Songhai men in Boubon.

Pray for the men that he will encounter in Boubon. Pray that many would befriend Mark & that he would develop relationships with them despite his limited language. Pray that, more than anything, he would be bold in his witness to them & that many would hear of Christ's love & salvation for them.

Pray for his health. It's hot. It's malaria season. It's a lot to adjust to & good health is key to surviving & thriving here.

Pray that he would be an encouragement & help to the Foxes in their ministry.

News from Gomer: May 2012

Dear Friends,
Today I come with a very special prayer request from Mitch*.
He has traveled north in Ghana to the village of Nalerigu where he spent his childhood.  His Senior Uncle, the man he will call his father, is very sick.  His name is Matt*, he is more than 100 years old.  I have met this unclue, and he is a very kind and gentle man.  He has taken in and raised so many young children that would have been lost in the world had this man not taken them in.   He is a small man, but he is held in very high regard and looked up to by many in the village.
Praise God,  he accepted Christ as his Savior some time back.  He has not shied from sharing his faith in both word and deed.  He has touched many lives.
When Mitch* called today he requested that I would ask you all to pray for his father and for his family.  His father is in his last hours, he is sleeping now and Mitch* said it is just a matter of time till he goes to be with his Savior.  He asked that we pray for comfort and peace for his father as he passes from this life to a new life in heaven.  He asked for prayer for the family, that they will find comfort during this time of loss.  Pray that this will be a time when many of his family will see God's Love in the peace his father has in his last hours.  Pray that Mitch* will be strong and be a pillar of comfort to his family during this time of grief and loss.
As I talked with him today, I could hear the sadness in his voice.  Please pray for him during this sad time in his life.
Thank you for all your prayers, and love for Mitch* and his family.
 God Bless you all.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

urgent prayer request

Just wanted to get word out to our prayer warriors to pray for a new believer in Boubon.  We have a team there this week and yesterday they saw firsthand what we've seen over and over:  His sheep hear His voice.  They were sharing with a group when a guy came up, sat down and said he wanted to believe.  He'd been waiting 14 years to hear this news and he believed and even wanted to be baptized immediately.  Only a few hours passed and word spread around the village about what had happened.  Over the next 12 hours he'd been kicked out of his home, lost his job, and being cursed everywhere he went. 
He, unlike so many Songhai, can read and is devouring Scripture.  He's very eager to learn and obey.  In fact, he was just going to leave the village and go somewhere else when he read the first 6 chapters of Matthew about loving his enemy and being blessed when he's persecuted.  He decided to stay and be a witness to the Gospel. 
We just ask that you would pray for his safety in these next few days especially.  We've seen a real anger in the village over his decision, more intense than what we've seen in the past.  Even today in the village, most people would not greet, much less listen to our team (a very un-Songhai thing).   Pray that he will remain strong in the face of intense persecution.  Also, please pray for us as we try to seek wise ways to help him during this time. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Weekly Prayer Focus: CU team

A team of 11 from Campbellsville University will head this way tomorrow! They will spend 12 days on the field with us. We are SO excited that they are coming as this is my & Mark's alma mater. They will spend their time in Boubon painting a school & sharing C2C in the village.

Please pray for the team. It is hotter than hot right now. These students will spend 8 hours either outside or in a school with no fans in temps hovering around 115 degrees. If they are walking around the village, they will be painting. Pray for them to have good health as they will have 9 full days of ministry & physical labor back-to-back. Pray also for their boldness to share the Gospel with anyone & everyone they meet. Pray that God would use this trip to teach them more about Himself than they ever imagined. Pray that their eyes would be open to the lostness of the nations & God would call some (or ALL!) to go to the uttermost parts of the world to share His name with those that have never heard.

Pray for those in Boubon who will encounter these students & may hear the Gospel for the first time. Pray they would be receptive & that God's sheep would hear His voice. Pray that many would choose to follow Christ as they hear about His salvation & love for them. Pray that God would make it clear & obvious to those that listen to the Gospel that He is THE only True God! Pray also for the school officials who will be there to watch the students work day in & day out. Pray that they would see the love of Christ through these students, they would be open to hearing the Gospel & they too would choose to believe.

Pray for all involved (our team, the CU team, the translators, national partners & painting supervisor) to have good health during this week. Pray for all of us to stay focused on the ultimate task at hand ... sharing Christ with those that have never heard!