Friday, June 27, 2014

Ramadan Prayer Guide

The Songhai team has come up with a prayer guide for Ramadan, which begins tomorrow. This guide has the name of 30 villages (one for each day of the Ramadan holiday). In each of these villages, there is at least one believer who will be experiencing Ramadan this year for the first time as a Christian. Essentially, this means that this believer will not celebrate a holiday that they have normally celebrated for every year of their life up to this point. More than any other time of the year, it is during this time that our believers are "set apart" from their community. While everyone else is fasting from food & water from sun up to sun down for 30 days in a row, our believers will continue to eat & drink. It may be hard for you to understand but this holiday & our believers' choice to NOT celebrate it is a BIG deal. While it does "alienate" them on some levels & brings persecution on others, it also is a great time for them to share their faith & explain why they are no longer celebrating this religious & cultural holiday.

So, if you would like, you can pray for these villages & the believers (whose names are being withheld) in them who will not be celebrating Ramadan for the first time in their life. It's a sometimes scary & lonely road to step out on their own as they take that first bite of food while everyone else sits by & stares. Pray that as everyone else is closing their mouths to fast for these 30 days, that our believers will open their mouths wide & be bold to proclaim the name of Jesus to their friends & family. Pray that this holiday would be a time where the believers take a deeper & firmer stand in their faith & not turn back to their former religion just because they are afraid of standing out. Pray that God would use this time in their lives to grow them in their faith in ways they'd never imagine.

*This prayer guide is a 4x6 card. Feel free to print it out & post it on your fridge, stick it in your Bible, tape it to your bathroom mirror, or just use it however you desire.

Friday, June 20, 2014

June 2014 newsletter

Dear Prayer Partners,

I cannot believe that we are already 6 months into this year!!! In another 6 months, we will be writing our newsletters from America while we begin our stateside assignment! Each month as I sit to write down all that has happened over the last month, I am always so humbled & amazed at all the Lord does each & every month among the Songhai. The Psalms speak so many times of recounting the wondrous deeds of God. And that's exactly what these newsletters feel like ... recalling all of the WONDERFUL things that God has done through your prayers!! We cannot thank you enough for your faithful prayer support for us, our Songhai believers & the ministry among the Songhai here in Niger!!

Again, I had to do a 2-page newsletter because there was just SO much to write about & praise God for! This newsletter really is just one huge praise after another. We hope that you will feel VERY encouraged as you read through all of the ways your prayers have been answered! I did not mention 2 things in the newsletter but they are definitely worth mentioning here ...

1. Ramadan begins in 8 days. If you aren't familiar with this Muslim holiday, do a quick Google search & read about it. Last year at this time, there were 30 new believers that were going to face this holiday (& not celebrate it) for the first time as a follower of Christ. This year there are 157 (ONE HUNDRED FIFTY SEVEN!!!!) NEW believers that will face this holiday as a follower of Christ & no longer a follower of Mohammed. Nothing else in all the year will make them stand apart from their former religion as them not celebrating this religious & cultural holiday. Please pray for these men & women to remain firm in their faith during these 30 days & faithful to Christ.

2. Jody & Sarah Fox (& their 3 girls) will leave Niger in 2 weeks after serving the Songhai team for 3 years. Their plans (& ours!) are for them to return January 2015. Please pray for them as they wrap up their ministry this next week in Boubon, say goodbye to their friends & pack up their house that has been their home for the last 2.5 years. It will be a HUGE transition, especially for their girls, to move back to the States & your prayers for them would be greatly appreciated.

Thank y'all again so much for loving on us & praying for us!

that ALL may know HIM,

Mark & Parker Phillips <><