Friday, May 24, 2013

Volunteer Testimony: Campbellsville University (May 2013)

What a week on mission in Niger is HOT!

            After spending 9 – 10 day s here in Niger, Africa sharing the gospel, distributing children’s vitamins, baby formula, prenatal vitamins and sweating a whole, whole lot… I have come away with the remembrance of HOT.  Yes it is hot in a physical sense, but hot goes much, much deeper than the sun burn or the amount of sweat that issues forth each day.  HOT is what makes Niger, these Songhai people and the Phillips so encouraging, and mission for Jesus Christ so exciting here in this part of the world.
HOT has a deeper meaning.  The Hospitality we have been shown show’s Christ’s presence here.  The Outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the leaders, translators and new brothers and sisters in Christ is evident.  The Transformation that is taking place amongst the Songhai is more than a miracle, it’s a promise of God and the transformation among this team from Campbellsville University that has come is apparent as well.
Mention the Songhai people, and the very first word that comes to my mind is hospitality.  These people are never too busy to offer you their time, a cup of tea or even their best chair, which could be their only one.  In every village we visited, on very few occasions, a handful in fact, were we asked not to share the story of Jesus, we were treated as honored guests.  Anywhere from 20 minutes to over an hour we shared the Creation to Christ account of how God created, man sinned, separation came between God and man, God’s bigger plan would involve His only Son, and Jesus dying a death we all deserve yet defeating death on the third day after crucifixion.  Hospitality is something I will look back on this trip and see that it can be exhibited even in the most remote places in Africa.  If those that are unsure of where their next meal may be coming from are able to sit, listen and hear the story of Jesus, it makes it more significant that I display patience, time and value to conversations I have with others, whether it be in the United States or around the globe.
Outpouring of the Holy Spirit is upon the Phillip’s and those they work with each and every day.  This Songhai team made up of Mark, Parker, Cephas, Biba and countless others are determined to make Jesus known to all people here in Niger, and the Holy Spirit is opening the ears and hearts of these people to hear this message.  Just sitting and sharing Jesus with an individual who have never heard the name of Jesus can be frightening, yet encouraging at the same time.  On this trip, we saw the Holy Spirit speak new life into five new believers in a village of Latta.  To see some people think about what we share but not fully commit to following right away is somewhat common, but not always.  To see five men at the same time, at a village that has never heard of Jesus, realize they are lost and without hope without Jesus is beyond encouraging.  That is the work of God.  To say that I was a vessel and this team helped share Jesus to celebrate new life with new brothers is by far the most important and exciting part of this trip!  And this was all due to the overwhelming and all-consuming power of the Holy Spirit.
Transformation has taken place.  In the lives of new believers, there is transformation of a life with purpose in praising and sharing Christ.  In the lives of those who have heard the story of Jesus, they now have the opportunity to reflect and choose whether to follow this truth or choose to ignore it; pray that they will be transformed through the power of God through the Holy Spirit.  The transformation amongst this team has shaped each of us to understand that the Gospel truly knows no borders.  A trip to Africa doesn’t have to open your eyes to see the desperate need of Jesus that the world needs to see, but it does give you a good perspective of how you are individually making Jesus known.
As we conclude this trip, and we reflect upon the villages we’ve shared the Gospel, the many vitamins and formula we’ve passed out at health clinics and once-in-a-lifetime experiences of camping out in a Songhai village, eating true African cuisine (African style too) and attending a church service in the heart of Niger, we know that God was at work.  Through the many reflections, the passage from 2 Corinthians 12:9 comes to mind which says,
 “…’My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
All that we have seen, been a part of, and accomplished this week is because of God’s power working through us and enabling us to the work we came here to do.  We all became tired, hot, hungry, sleepy, hot, sick, frustrated and hot, but we keep enduring.  Even when we were affected by so many difficult weaknesses, we still found the strength to spend another day in the heat, sharing the story of Jesus with people and saw lives forever changed.  That is only through the power of God.  God’s power is sufficient enough for all people, and with his power in place of any and all our weaknesses, His plan will prosper.
Our team is thankful for all the prayers of those who knew we were hearing serving, and it is because of these prayers that lives were forever changed.  Because of those prayers, you have been as instrumental in this trip thousands of miles away as we were here serving.  Be in continual prayer for this Songhai Team; pray that lives will continually be transformed into the likeness of God, and may Niger and these people stay HOT (hospitable, outpouring and transforming) for the Lord!

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