Friday, July 26, 2013

Weekly Prayer Focus: Night of Power

The "Night of Power" is "believed to be the night when the Quran was first revealed. ... This night being of historical significance, Muslims should worship as much as they can on this night. It is also believed to be the night when God decides the destiny of everyone." (taken from wikipedia)

As the definition above indicates, this night is very significant in the month of Ramadan. This night is not known on the calendar ahead of time but is expected to fall during the last 10 days of Ramadan.  It is a night that many Muslims will be seeking a direct word from God. Pray that many Songhai, who have yet to believe, will hear from the One True God. As they seek out Allah, pray they will find Yahweh instead.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Update on village "LA"

A few weeks ago, we asked y'all to pray for village "LA" where there were new believers. This village has been an amazing bright spot among Songhai villages. Eight men have decided to follow Jesus and are currently meeting weekly for discipleship.  However, lately the village has been growing in hostility towards their new faith.

We told them on the front end that this would be a hard road and they are seeing it for themselves now firsthand.  They have stood strong thus far until today.  As we met today I noticed a considerable number of our guys weren't there.  While this is rainy season and men are working, it seemed odd.  I asked the guys there what was going on and they told me that for 3 straight days there have been Islamic preachers who were sent from Niamey to come preach in "LA".  The subject of their preaching:  chastising these new believers.

Now, imagine if you can what these men are going through.  They are about 2 months into their new faith. They've already been shunned by family and friends and now a group of men are going around the village with bullhorns announcing that these men have become worse than pagans and shaming them to the world!  It is indeed a tough road.

Pray for them to remain strong.  I read with them Peter's response to Jesus in John 6 after the 5000 have abandoned him.  Peter's wonderful response was, "Where else would we go - you alone have the words of life."  The men lit up and said, "That's us, we've found the best thing no matter what it's cost us."

Friday, July 19, 2013

Weekly Prayer Focus: Ramadan

As many of you know, Ramadan began last week. For many of our Songhai believers (30 to be exact), this will be their first year to NOT celebrate Ramadan. If they haven't chosen to make their new faith known to their family & friends yet, it has become abundantly clear over this last week. While the rest of their former community declines from eating or drinking (or some, even swallowing their own saliva) from sun up to sun down, these 30 new believers are not participating alongside them.

There is usually much zealousness for the Muslim faith during this month of fasting as it is one of the "holiest" times of the year & one of the 5 pillars of their faith. Persecution tends to be at its highest during this time as well, yet there is also somewhat of an openness as some are truly seeking to know God.

Pray for our believers to remain strong in their faith during this month. Pray for them to be a visible light in the darkness. Pray for them to have many opportunities to share their faith with their neighbors & family. Pray for them to not back down in the face of persecution. Pray also for their growth in the Word & in love for each other.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Weekly Prayer Focus: New National Partners

We are so excited that we've had a group of 4 men join our national partner team! We began this team almost 2 years ago & have seen some stick with it, some drop out &, unfortunately, some had to be let go. The team is comprised of national men (some Songhai, some not but all that speak the language) who agree to work in an area of Songhai lands that needs a consistent presence of the Gospel. They are usually teamed up in pairs of 2 & work half of a week in their villages while spending the other half of the week earning an income in the city. They are not only sent out by us but also by their local churches in the capital city. They agree to partner with us in the Songhai lands for a 3-month period with, hopefully, a desire on both our parts to renew their "contract" each quarter. 

Recently, we've had a long lull in zero to low interest in anyone joining our team. We've been blessed with 2 national partners, besides Cephas, who have worked tirelessly by themselves in 2 areas of Songhai lands for almost a year. We are so excited that the Lord has called these 4 young men to join our team & thereby extending the Gospel to even more Songhai lands that are currently being unreached!!

Join us in praying for these men as they commit to answering God's call on their lives to take the Gospel to their fellow nationals. Pray for them as they will undoubtedly face persecution, ridicule, hostility & those that simply do not want to listen to the Message they've come to share. Pray that they would have boldness & integrity in their assigned villages. And pray that they will be encouraged daily to continue taking the Light into the Darkness. And pray that many Songhai will hear, know & respond to the Truth of the Gospel!

Volunteer Testimony: Summer Interns (May/June 2013)

Six weeks have passed and in those six weeks, we have seen, experienced, and learned more than we ever could have expected. Stepping out of our compound each day, whether it was to prayer walk, go to a local orphanage, greet our neighbors, or attempt to communicate with locals, we encountered darkness. Darkness presented itself in the form of hunger, sickness, deceit, and a community driven by the commands of a Quran that most can recite but don't understand. More often than not, we felt defeated because the darkness and need seemed to outweigh any efforts we made. See, we came into this internship with big plans- plans to share the Gospel with people who have never heard it.  Plans to teach children to praise Jesus. Plans to disciple hardened women to have hearts softened towards Christ, to teach them what love looks like after living in a society that hardly even uses the word love. This may come as a shock, but those plans did not play out the way would have hoped they would. In fact, the surface was barely scratched for many of them. It's a reality that daily we all had to face as we saw our time here growing shorter and shorter. It became easy for us to question our effectiveness as witnesses for Christ.  As we turned to scripture for direction and wisdom, we found encouragement through the example of Jesus and his ministry. Before Jesus began, he prayed. We realized that the area we were in, the people we saw daily, the children we grew to love may have never been prayed for before we got there. That was a difficult concept for us to begin to understand-to think that no one had ever approached God on behalf of this community, praying for their salvation.  It was our privilege to pray for them. Daily we prayed for the homes we passed, the smiling faces that greeted us, and the backs that were turned to us (belonging to the people who knew we were Christians). We prayed and prayed and prayed and 2 weeks before our internship ended, Biba and Cephas were kicked out of their home (with us in tow) for being Christians. God was in no way shocked by this and in less than 24 hours a new home was found, contracted, and moved into a week later. Just like that, we left our neighborhood for a new one. The Songhai team's theme became very relevant to us in that time: Sow with hope, reap with humility. We don't know what the future holds for our friends that we made, but we do know our efforts were not in vain. We may never see the fruit of our labor this side of heaven. We will continue to pray for the community of Bobiel and ask all who are willing to intercede on their behalf, trusting in God to once again bring among them the truth of his word. The enemy lurks searching for his prize but we know who has already claimed the victory. God has begun a work in the country of Niger and it was an honor to play even a small part in it. John 1:5 has been our motivation through these weeks and will continue to be as we head home: "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."

- Morgan G, LHBC, Bowling Green, KY