Tuesday, June 25, 2013

June 2013 newsletter

Dear Prayer Partners,

We can hardly believe that another month has flown by!! This last month was filled with welcoming 2 teams from our partnering churches in KY & TX, moving into a new HUB, finishing up with our summer interns, & following up on the work that God is doing among the Songhai. Someone commented to us recently that they have been amazed at what all God is doing among the Songhai right now. Well, we are too!! We are so grateful to be a small part of His name going forward among the Songhai & many coming out of darkness into His Light. We are also SO grateful for your prayer support as you hold the ropes for us, our team & our Songhai brothers & sisters. We know that your prayers are key to what God is doing among the Songhai right now! Thank you!

that ALL may know HIM,

Mark & Parker <><

Friday, June 14, 2013

Weekly Prayer Focus: LA

We have begun work in a new village but with heightened security & persecution, I fear to mention it's name so we're going with "LA." PS - if you haven't read this post on the top 10 countries for worst persecuted Christians, you may have missed that Mali (our neighboring country & home to a million Songhai) is number 7 on the list. 

 Mark described the beginnings of our entry & work in LA in this post. Since that initial meeting & follow up, he has been able to visit this village a few more times with equally awesome times of study & fellowship with these new believers. These men are committed, are growing & are sharing. They are fearless in that they meet in the open with a mosque as their next door neighbor.

Men & elders of the village, usually on their way to the mosque for their daily prayers, stop by to listen to the teachings from the Bible. They do not object & do not argue ... they simply listen, wash up for their prayers & go on their way while the believers stay behind to continue studying the Word of God (making an OBVIOUS statement that they are no longer practicing the Islamic faith).

Even a seasoned national believer & partner of ours noticed what a difference this group is compared to other groups of new believers we've encountered together. These men are eager to learn & excited about their new faith, new life & new hope they've found in Christ ... despite what persecution their obvious statements could bring to them.

This week simply praise the Lord that He is calling the Songhai to Himself. Praise Him for this group of new believers in LA. Praise Him that they are bold, committed & growing together as a body. Pray that they would continue to grow in their faith & boldness & share the hope they've found with their family & friends. Pray for the men who hear the Good News each week on their way to the mosque to realize that their current way of life is fruitless and that salvation is found only in Christ. Pray that even if persecution comes, they would grow in & through it & it would only serve to strengthen their resolve in knowing Christ & making Him known.

Monday, June 10, 2013

the shell story

On my trip to Niger in February of 2012, I knew ahead of time that I would not be able to go to Ayorou.   This was where several dear believers lived that on my previous trips, I had visited and began to love dearly.  My closest relationship was with a sweet brother named Ibrahim.  He is a rock.  His faith has cost him greatly, and he has gladly paid.   He has faced days that i could not imagine and has firmly stood in the strength of our Redeemer.  To my amazement, after we arrived, Ibrahim had made the journey from Ayorou to Naimey!  After greeting him, Mark told me that Ibrahim had a gift for me.  He had asked Mark before hand, because he thought that his gift may not be significant to me.  Mark assured him that the meaning was far more important.  Ibrahim then handed me a snail shell.  It was polished and he wanted me to take it so that I would remember him.  I told him that I would.   He then continued.   Snails often go to the same place.  They have the same needs and therefore go the same place to have them met.  He said we were like snails.   We both have the need of a Savior so we go to the same place to have our needs met.   The next thing he said was new information to me.   He said that it is impossible for a snail to go backwards.  Much like us, once God has chosen us, we cannot go back to our old life, praise God.  Then he took one finger from each hand and simulated 2 snails as they move along there paths.   He said that we, like snails, are on a path.  Sometimes we would be far apart, sometimes our paths would cross, but because God has set us on this path, and we can't back up, one day we would end up in the same place.   I am so thankful for Ibrahim and carry this shell with me daily.

- Travis A, Bowling Green, Ky

Friday, June 7, 2013

Weekly Prayer Focus: *Adam*

I apologize for the month hiatus of posting a Weekly Prayer Focus blog. You can look back at the volunteer testimonies from Campbellsville & LHBC as well as May's newsletter to see what's been happening over the last month.

For this next week, however, would you please pray for a young Niamey believer named *Adam* (name changed for security reasons)? Adam was led to Christ by another young believer ... one many of you have met that is originally from Ayorou. We call him "the Bible." Adam & the Bible have been meeting with Mark on a fairly consistent basis over the last year for discipleship lessons & have grown & matured in their faith.

Adam showed up at our house this morning to tell us that he had been kicked out of his house. He has nowhere else to go so he decided his best bet was to travel to a nearby city, enlist the help of his older brother & return to Niamey to defend himself against his father.

While we know that persecution comes with the territory for the majority of our Songhai believers & things like that are sometimes par for the course, we also don't shrug it off & say, "Well, this sort of thing just happens. Get used to it." We told Adam that we would pray for him ... to have wisdom in confronting his father and for God to provide him a place to live, whether that be in his father's house or elsewhere.

We are now asking you to join us in praying for your brother in Christ who has nowhere to lay his head tonight or nowhere to call home. Pray that the Lord would give him wisdom on when & how to confront his father. Pray that the Lord would provide him grace & patience in doing that. Pray that the Lord would also provide him a home ... wherever that may be. And pray that in all circumstances, Adam would praise His Father & bring glory to His name.

Volunteer Testimonies: LHBC (May 2013)

This is the second time I have been to West Africa.  This trip was more demanding, both spiritually and physically than the last.  We did struggle, but all of us knew that God was doing something big while we were there.  It was a constant battle between darkness and light, and the whole team could feel it.  As we were sharing C2C with multiple people, we came into quite a bit of resistance, with a few patches of light.  The team could see God's presence in this light and it lifted us up.

We also met with a few believers and saw one of them preach the Word to other believers at a worship gathering.  It is something we take for granted in the U.S., but it something rarely seen in the villages of Africa.  It is very encouraging to see the believers stand up for their faith and worship the One True King.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5

--- Josh B

Over the past week we have been immersed into a culture that is drastically different from our own. The Songhai are a people that are friendly, polite, hard working, and proud. No matter where we went we were always greeted with a friendly "Fofo!" and a bright smile.

We were invited into many women's homes to sit and talk to one another. In both Boubon and Tagabati we presented the 'Christ to Creation' story to many women and children.  We told many Bible stories of God's love for his people and of the prophecies of Jesus Christ.  We also shared the stories of the miracles Jesus performed while he was living on Earth.  We invited children to come listen to our stories and we sang songs about Jesus and played games.

It was wonderful to be able to share God's love with so many people.  We saw God move in many ways.  For some it was the first sign of hope they had ever seen. For others it was the only testament of love they had ever known. 

We will continue to pray for the Songhai people and that the seeds we have sown will one day bear fruit.

---- Monica Y

We were able to teach and share stories with current believers our first day which was both insightful and humbling. Then the next day we went to Tagaboti, did C2C and had 4 younger men say they believed and come back to the bush-taxi with us. The next day we met with 2 of the 4 and taught them on the Genesis E-Track and they confessed Christ. Then Brian had a epiphany and told them they had to go teach their children what we had taught them. That night we did C2C in Boubon and the man we spoke to listened intently, when we were done he said he wanted to go and talk to the elders first. Jody said, ''You know they will tell you I'm lying." He said, "I am a man, I make up my own mind." I was encouraged by this.

The next two days we did C2C around Boubon, not much occurred fruit wise, but I feel the sowing was important. Even in the midst of arguing, and other goings on while we were talking we could still see His Sheep Hear His Voice. That was the most profound part of the trip Sunday was the Worship service at the Fox's and it was great. We sang with the kids and a couple of the women, then we were taught by a local believer the story and meaning of Daniel in the lions den. It was a good way to finish out time there, however for me it ended too soon.

I have taken the names of those I met with me and I hope to see them soon. I look forward to continuing to see His Hands and His Feet reach His people.

--- John K