Friday, March 28, 2014

Volunteer Testimony: FBC Franklin (March 2014)

If you have the opportunity to go on a mission trip and are able to go, I pray you will say, “Yes Lord.”  Perhaps you are afraid, lack the money, or feel inadequate. Consider how big our God is. He will clear the way.
God does not need us to accomplish His purpose. Instead, he allows us to be a part of his plan. WOW moments from our team included: Being the first person to say the name of Jesus in a village that has never heard His name, sharing the gospel with a woman who has persecuted Christians and then praying with her as she repented and accepted Jesus and then seeing a new light in her eyes, witnessing to workers at a goldmine and seeing the crowd grow as they pressed in to hear the true treasure of God’s word, helping believers learn a new skill so they can support their families and seeing believers have joy and hope in a hopeless environment!
It’s impossible to describe the heaviness of our hearts as we realized that the thousands of people we passed on the road are going to spend eternity in hell unless other Christians respond. The population of Niger is 17 million. Over the week, our small team divided into three groups and shared the gospel with perhaps 2000. Only God knows if the seeds we sowed will mature and be harvested.
Last year we conducted Bible School in a village. Perhaps 50 children received t-shirts with the logo “His Sheep Hear His Voice.” Jonathan ran across a child in the market wearing one of the t-shirts. The odds of seeing one of the same children was astronomical. I see it as God affirmation that He will reap the harvest.
One of our team members used his artistic gifts to develop pictograms to educate the Songhai on water sanitation and purification practices. For more information go to this link:  Jonathan Oglesby’s work is groundbreaking and may revolutionize teaching methods in the poorest places on earth. He said, “As much as they suffer for water; they suffer more for the living water.”  This is an example of how God uses each of our unique gifts to grow his kingdom. But we have to step outside of our comfort zone and be obedient. What are your special gifts?
I plan to return to Niger in 2016 and hope by then there are no more villages that have never heard the name of Jesus. For that to happen, someone else must go. I’m committed to continuing to go, as long as I’m physically able. God does not call us to go, He commands it. I pray that you will say, “Yes Lord.”
If you have time and would like to read about the experience of someone on the mission field who is afraid and inadequate, check out my personal blog at  Over the next few weeks, I’ll make a post for each day. If God can use me and my limited talents, He can use you.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Weekly Prayer Focus: NLTS 7.1

So sorry that I've let a few weeks go by without doing any of these. Things have been crazy busy around these parts with volunteer teams & other going-ons. We also launched our new Adopt-a-Road project & with sending out updates (sometimes weekly & sometimes daily) for 8 areas, I've let the ole blog updates slip up.

But for this week, would y'all please pray for our 7th installment of NLTS? We are so humbled & amazed at how God has taken this dream of training our believers in theology & made it bigger than we ever imagined. We never dreamed that it'd get so large & reach so many different peoples, that we'd have to divide it up into 2 segments. This week, we have the privilege of training men from the Road to Ayorou, Niamey & men from a people group other than the Songhai.

This week these men are studying the book of Acts. Mark posted on Twitter recently: "Message of Acts: The church is powered by the Holy Spirit & grown through persecution so that she might bear witness to Christ. We pray for the power and we hope for the witnesses but we don't want the persecution."

These men can definitely understand what it means to be persecuted. This is not a foreign concept to them. Pray that they will be able to retain all they learn about & from the book of Acts this week. Pray that God would use these men to grow His church in Niger. Pray for these men to have a passion to share His name with those in their villages that have yet to hear. And pray that God would give them the endurance to withstand the needed persecution to grow His church in their villages.

Volunteer Testimony: LHBC (February 2014)

"...And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard?"
             -Romans 10:14

Stop and ponder that statement by Paul for a moment.  How often in your day-to-day life do you actually come by someone who has never heard the Gospel?  Whether we are at work, running errands, or at a sporting event or concert, do we pass by people who do not know the love that God has for them?  Are there people out there who do not recognize their need for a Savior to pay the sin debt that we have no hope of satisfying on our own merit?

Our missionary team encountered this very scenario time and time again this week, and it was truly a privilege to be witness to the shining of the light of Jesus on lives enslaved to darkness.  Our team departed on the Road to Gaya with the intent of living out the motto on the Songhai team website: sow with hope, reap with humility.  There were some challenges that had the potential to interfere with our ability to share: would our bodies hold up to several days on a difficult-to-travel road?  Would fatigue set in and cloud our minds and confuse our words?  Would stepping out of our "comfort zone" make us too uncomfortable?  God took those worries and used them to humble us.  We never gave these concerns another thought once we started our journey.  As our pastor at Living Hope has said before, "Everything is small to God."

It was apparent from the initial contact in the first village that God had gone before us to open the minds and hearts of His people.  We encountered an openness and willingness to listen that could only be the result of the work of God.  In a country that in 99% Muslim, the message of Christ was proclaimed with little to no opposition or argument.  We were welcomed in each of the 9 villages we visited.  Even in villages where no one was ready to accept Christ, we were told by everyone to come back and share again because they need to hear more.  Many times, we were sought out by an individual rather than having to approach them; God was sending His sheep to us!  A man told the team that this message needed to be shared with the women (a radical statement in Islamic culture).

Whenever a person expressed a desire to become a follower of Christ, we emphasized that the Bible calls them "a new creation," and that their old religion and its associated beliefs were no more.  Each man, without hesitation, affirmed his decision.  The look of amazement and wonder on the faces of those who had never heard the Gospel story was something I will remember the rest of my life.  It was as if you could see God "putting it all together" for them as the plan for salvation was revealed.

God provided a plentiful harvest.  In all, 30 men accepted the invitation to become followers of Jesus.  While only God can know their heart, my hope is that all these men were sincerely drawn to God and will remain strong in their new faith despite the radical life changes or persecution that may come.  Chains were broken as these men experienced true forgiveness of the sin that had shackled them their entire lives.  There was great rejoicing in Heaven at the redemption of these men.  I praise God for a safe journey and the honor of serving alongside the Songhai missionary team.  I pray that these men will grow in their faith and can be used by God to continue to call the Songhai to Himself.

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

--- Caleb B, LHBC, Bowling Green, KY

march 2014 newsletter

Dear Prayer Partners,

Can y'all believe that March is more than half way over with already?! This year seems to be flying! Since our last newsletter, besides ministry, our family has celebrated Luke's 4th birthday, John Cole turning 6 months old (wasn't he just born yesterday?!) & my birthday (Parker). So in between our family celebrations, the last NLTS class, hosting a volunteer team, & trips to the villages, we've had a lot going on!

Thank y'all so much for your prayers for our ministry & our family. And thank you to everyone who committed to Adopt-a-Road. We are seeing so much fruit from this already with an openness like none other in the villages we are working in. We are so thankful for the 83 of you who have committed to pray daily for these roads!!

And again, there was just too much to put in the newsletter ministry-wise (which is always a GOOD thing!), I didn't have room for pictures or a volunteer testimony.

Love y'all & appreciate y'all more than words can say! Thank you for being our "rope holders"! Your prayers are so vital to us & we cannot thank you enough for your support!

that ALL may know HIM,

Mark & Parker <><

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

What Do the Foxes Say? March 2014

I remember many important milestones in my children’s lives. Their first smile, first time sitting up, then crawling (army style for C*), first time eating baby food, and then of course their first steps. It’s so exciting to watch a baby grow and learn these things in front of your eyes. And I’ve tried my best to record these events in a baby book and by taking pictures.

The same is true spiritually. When someone first becomes a believer they are an infant in the faith. But the goal is not for them to stay that way. We want them to grow into a healthy and strong believer.  I also know this doesn’t happen overnight.  We have to be patient and gracious with new believers. We can’t expect them to know everything and do everything right all of the time -­‐ just like we don’t expect our children to be walking and talking in their first week of life!

I’d like to share with you some milestones of the people we work with. These may seem small to you, but they are steps in the right direction.  

This past week S* (a baptized believer) prayed out loud in front of a group for the first time! She’s been meeting with me for well over a year and I’ve asked her to pray several times. She’s always laughed and said no, I don’t know how to. Even when it was just the two of us, she would not be willing. But this week we were meeting with her and two other women and Sakina agreed to pray. I was very excited at her reaching this milestone!

Another exciting event was when Jody was playing Luke 2 on the proclaimer, M* (a 9 yr. old girl, sister of A*) was quoting the words right before they would play. Even though we’ve focused a lot of time teaching her parents and brother, she has been listening and learning! Pray for her salvation.

About a month ago S* and I* came to our church meeting. They are not believers, but at the end they wanted to pray for God to protect Jody while he was in Senegal. This seems like baby steps as God is opening their hearts to want to understand Christianity. Pray for their salvation.

Lastly, a woman named H*, who is the mother-in-law of one of the believers, had been against our message and said we were not welcome in her compound. This week she showed up at our house and wanted me to teach her! Pray for her as well!

• Praise the Lord that we had our biggest church meeting. Many were unbelievers, but we are grateful for more people coming to hear.
• Pray for the Songhai team as we meet this month and learn more about community development opportunities for Niger.
• Pray that the Lord will open the hearts of three men named S*, I* and H*.• Pray that our believers will share their faith with others in our village.
• Pray for Jody because he is taking a seminary class this semester.
• Pray for Sarah balancing homeschool, family, and out of the home ministry.
• Pray for strength that we would finish our first term with health and diligence.

Recently we have had to do things to prepare for our home assignment (coming up from July 2014 - Dec 2014). With all of those preparations our minds have been thinking about what the transition will be like coming to the states after living in Niger for 3 years. Our two youngest hardly remember anything about the U.S. and so it will be like a whole new world to them. So, I’ve compiled a list of things that our kids have done in Niger that are completely normal and ordinary for them. But...if they were to tell their family, friends, or teachers in America... the response may be “You did WHAT???”

1. Ate grasshoppers and called them a ‘snack’
2. Rode a donkey
3. Crossed the Niger River (with hippos) on a canoe
4. Slept outside under a mosquito net
5. Stayed up way past bedtime watching the Jesus film outside
6. Bought bread by ourselves using the Zarma language
7. Helped make pottery
8. Have visited 4 other African countries
9. Saw a cobra
10. Had to ride a boat and walk to get to church (took 45 min.)
11. Saw a scorpion in our bathtub
12. Had a cow market right outside our gate each week
13. Ziplined over the Zambezi River by Victoria Falls
14. Constantly saw people with babies on motorcycles
15. Tumbled down sand dunes
16. Ate rice and sauce using our hands
17. Haven’t worn shoes in three years (only flip flops or bare feet)
18. Learned a new language
19. Have a pet tortoise, goat, and cat
20. Peed on a squatty potty
21. Lived with an African family for three days

So we think our kids are pretty amazing...Let’s just hope they can learn to tie shoes and ride a bike before too long!!!

• Praise the Lord for a healthy month!
• Praise the Lord for a safe and fun vacation to Burkina Faso.
• Pray for perseverance in school.
• Pray for continued building of friendships and sharing the gospel with these friends.