The people were all smiling as they came out to greet the missionaries driving into their cactus lined village. The national partner arriving with the missionaries made introductions as they all sat down on the woven mats laid over the dirt. The nationals and missionaries exchanged proper greetings. The missionaries asked, “Do you want to hear about Jesus Christ and sing a song to God?”
“Yes!” the villagers responded.
“What song do you know?”
“We don’t know any songs to sing to God. Teach us.”
The missionaries proceeded to teach them a song along with the gospel. A few people showed interest in following Jesus.
Within a few months, as the national partner continued visiting and sharing with the people, many came to Christ. They were hungry for more stories from the Scriptures and insights into how to follow Jesus.
The missionaries were able to visit every once in a while, but the national partner was key in meeting with the villagers regularly. The time came for the new converts to follow in baptism. In the deserts of South Madagascar water is scarce. Finding a water hole deep enough to baptize is a huge challenge. On this day, the villagers and missionaries walked 10 miles to get to the ocean and back. The lead missionary, along with a few volunteers from Louisiana, stood on the shore surrounded by the new converts and modeled how to baptize. After a little more teaching and verification that the people understood what this step in their faith meant, the leaders of the village took each new convert one by one and baptized them! The people from the village sang praises to God and celebrated with a meal on the beach; rejoicing in this step of obedience in their new found faith.
Teachings continued and the new converts gained more and more understanding of the Scriptures. After some time the missionaries were asked to come back and teach about taking the Lord’s Supper. The people were all smiling again as they came out to greet the missionaries driving into their village. The missionaries had permission to set up a tent and stay for the night. They got the tent up and began fellowshipping with the people. Some women missionaries were cooking with the women in the cooking house. The missionary kids were teaching the village children how to play hop scotch and the men were sitting and beginning to discuss the steps to take the Lord’s Supper, described by the Scriptures. It was an incredible experience to be a part of these milestones in the lives of new Christians who had no preconceived ideas of what these actions should look like. From the time they confessed Christ as their Lord and Savior and learned songs to sing to praise him, to following him in baptism and then learning what it means to remember the Lord through taking the Lord’s Supper, the missionaries were determined to teach them to do everything based upon what the Scriptures say.
Pray the people in the village of Amby will grow in their faith according to the Scriptures. Pray they will weigh every action in light of the Scriptures and that they will be able to stand firm in the midst of persecution and temptation. Pray for the people in the church to grow stronger in their faith and be diligent in sharing the gospel with their neighbors.
If the answer is YES, then you might be feeling like this tree, all alone, at high tide! Sometimes doing what is right and following the truths outlined in the Bible, can leave you standing all alone. I know for our national brothers and sisters, following Christ and His teachings, can leave them either physically or emotionally alone. Our prayer is that even in the midst of many people, they would feel the sweet presence of the Lord. That they can find encouragement and support through His Word, His people, and others that may come into their life. Our prayer is that they would never feel alone, but stand firmly planted in Christ! “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
Every rut, every rock, every turn made my brain feel like it was bouncing inside my skull. At the end of the longest day, my whole body felt out of sorts and I wasn’t sure if my head would stop hurting. I never felt like I was in such bad condition that I needed medical attention, but a few times I wondered, “What in the world are we doing!” You see, a few weeks ago our family spent two weeks traveling around the Southern part of Madagascar visiting national partners, new churches, teammates and taking care of a few errands. We we’re on the road anywhere from 4-11 hours in a single day with some days interspersed of little to no travel. The saying rang true for us that the people are “unreached for a reason.” The roads are terrible! There are a few nice stretches but others were nearly impassable. As you pray for the people of South Madagascar today, ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers from the fields. Pray more nationals would continue to evangelize and make disciples. We’re seeing the beginnings of a movement, but it won’t come without resistance from the enemy. Pray these national believers will be able to stand firm as each and their respective families are persecuted and face spiritual warfare like never before.
Faucet? Well? Bucket? An old used vegetable oil container, called a jerry can? Lately, we’ve been getting our water during the day from jerry cans, just like the ones in this picture. As we gather water from our faucet each night, when we have running water, I’m reminded of those that have to gather at the local community water pump each morning to fill their jerry cans and buckets. They use this time to visit. catch up, some are even washing clothes. Sometimes they just leave their buckets in line and come back later to pick them up. I started thinking about our “living water” and the source. Do we put our buckets in His line and decide to come back later to pick them up? Or do we decide to stop and stay at the Source each day to visit and spend time with Him. There are many in our community who are dry, not only because its the dry season and the water source is low, but there are many who are spiritually dry. Many are gathering at wells that don’t offer any source of “living water”, they are hoping to get nourished, but coming up empty. Please join us in praying for the peoples of northern Madagascar to seek the true source of “living water.” “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water i give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14
Have you ever looked out amongst your city or the place where you live and wondered, “If everyone needs a chance to hear the Gospel, where do I start?” It can be a daunting task. One of our national partners, whom we are walking side by side in church planting here in in Antananarivo, came and asked the same question. “Where do I start?”
My husband asked him, “Where is your Jerusalem?” In other words, where do you go every day and who do you see? After some thought, our national partner begin to list his daily routine. One of those routines included taking his children to school each morning. When he thought further, he realized that he talked to the security guard at that school every day.
“That’s your Jerusalem!” said my husband. With a smile on his face, our national partner said he understood. The next day he shared Christ with with that very security guard and the guard was ready to accept Christ as his Savior. Our national partner was so excited.
He called us and said, “It worked! Now I’m ready to disciple him.” We are now working with our national partner giving him ‘just in time’ training so he can disciple his new brother in Christ.
Where is your Jerusalem? Where do you go everyday? Who do you talk to? Matthew 28:19 instructs us to “go”, but that verb actually mean ‘as you are going’. As you are going to work… As you are going to school… As you are taking kids to practices… As you are going to the bank… As you are going to the grocery store. As you are going, proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. That’s your Jerusalem!
It’s that time of year, when many people pack up and prepare to serve the Lord around the world. International World Changers from the state of Louisiana are in route to Fort Dauphin, Madagascar. They will be on the ground from May 19-30. Pray for the villages they will serve, including Tsihombe, Salohimahasoa, Marovato and more. Pray for the hearts of those they will be sharing with to be receptive to the Gospel. Pray also for their time in Fort Dauphin as they use sports ministry to reach the youth of Madagascar. Pray for logistics and their health.
There are other volunteer teams in and coming to South Madagascar. Keep this area of the country in your prayers. Pray the Lord would continue to see the missionaries and these volunteer teams through to the finish
“Why do you love us?” We’ve heard that on more than one occasion. Why? “Why do you travel difficult roads, leave your family, leave comfort to sit with us, live with us, and share with us.” Why? There is only one response: CHRIST! We love you because Christ loves you. He loved you so much that He sent His one and only Son to die on a cross, so that you can have eternal life. What greater example of love is this? Our greatest desire is that our community, our town, and all of northern Madagascar comes to know that kind of love. Please pray that we would remain steadfast in not only sharing the love of Christ, but showing it as well. That the difficulties of daily life here won’t weigh us down, make us bitter or discouraged. Please pray that our national brothers and sisters would come to understand the greatest example of love and be free from traditions that keep them grounded in fear and unworthiness. Please pray that Mr. S would find that his love for Christ far outweighs his love for alcohol and that he would become free from that bondage. Please pray that Miss Y finds that her love for Christ outweighs the fear that her parents have with her new found relationship with Him and that her household would come to know His love.
For two years God was telling us to start a church in our home for the purpose of modeling the Acts 2 church model. We resisted wondering if it was putting too much dependence on us, as outsiders. Finally in October 2015 we started a church meeting in our home. The name of the church group became “The Refuge” and it continues until today.
We spent all of 2016 modeling healthy church and took the group through the books of Acts. It was very basic teachings with emphasis placed on simple obedience. Our structure has been much different than traditional church meetings and the “Three-Thirds Process” became the structure of each meeting where we would spend time together in fellowship, pastoral care, prayer, small group accountability, vision casting, learning the new lesson and goal setting with prayer. (Look back, Look Up & Look Ahead). 2016 was a growing year for us as we saw individuals get stronger in the faith and in evangelism & discipleship. Every believer in the group is considered an active disciple with a role in Kingdom work.
2017 has looked much the same in regards to individuals growing deeper, but we’ve also seen a shift where churches are being birthed out of this initial church plant. It’s been exciting to see this evolution take place since our goal is to have a healthy church in every village here! In 2015, we envisioned this to be the role of The Refuge as we started, but it was obvious that this would be a gradual process initially. The group is thinking multiplication now and that has encouraged us. Sometimes a church group meets on a different night of the week so the church will come to join The Refuge meeting on Sunday night. This has been a perfect time for accountability, training and follow-up conversations.
We praise the Lord for how He has taught us to just obey even if we have doubts about how things will turn out.
Please Pray for The Refuge as it has become a training center for multiple leaders and church groups. We get constant feedback each day from people being impacted and challenged. Please pray for the new church plants on the island… House of Prayer, Amazing Grace, & House of Faith to name a few.
Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin! Zechariah 4:10a
Until There is No Place Left!
As the time of singing came to an end, the congregation waited in anticipation for the young preacher to begin his sermon. He set his Bible and notes on the table before him and paused. “Raise your hand if you’re alive?” he started. “Raise your hand if you’re alive?” One-by-one most of the people raised their hand. He proceeded to preach verse by verse from Colossians 3 about putting on the new self. When he reached verse 3 he asked the congregation again to, “Raise your hand if you’re alive.” This time there was hesitation. “Raise your hand if you’re dead,” he rephrased his question. More hesitation, but again one-by-one hands started going up.
You see, we are called to die to ourselves and be hidden in Christ that when he returns we would join him in glory. In Galatians 2:20 we are reminded, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” This young preacher captured the attention of the congregation and made a lasting impact on the fact that we need to put away the old self and “whatever we do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Col. 3:17)
Pray for this congregation to live out Colossians 3.
Like much of Africa, the entire region of southern Madagascar has been experiencing an inconceivable drought and subsequent famine. As a result, many have died, are severely malnourished and have no hope of future harvests. Some villages have sold the last of their livestock and are surviving off of bitter, often poisonous, manioc.
In October, we partnered with BGR and coordinated the “Seeds of Life” seed distribution project. Through the sacrificial giving of Southern Baptists and others all over the world, we were approved to help aid in this time of crisis by providing seed to the Mahafaly people, in hopes of a reproducible harvest next year. Despite being limited on preparation time, God heard our prayers and provided 165 tons of seed. If you are like me, and struggle to understand how much 165 tons really is, imagine about fifty-five elephants! You can imagine what it took logistically to get that much seed way out to the remote Mahafaly villages!
Our first generation church leaders played a major role in the planning and implementation of the seed distribution. They received training from BGR on distribution protocols and worked hard to develop an evangelism strategy. Each first generation church/village was given the seed for their village, along with the bags of seeds for the villages of their second, third and fourth generation churches. Each first generation church took seed to the second generation church and helped them distribute within their village. This continued on with the third and fourth generations.
In all, we were able to distribute over 3,000 (50 kilogram) bags of corn, cowpeas and peanuts to 55 villages with a combined population of nearly 41,000 people! The Gospel was spread to thousands who have never heard God’s saving message and over 700 people have received Christ. Over thirty new villages have new groups of believers meeting!
Now that the people have seed to plant, please pray God would send rain to the dry, parched land. Pray for a bountiful harvest, not only in their fields, but also among their hearts. Pray for many more to come to Christ and for the believers to continue to grow in their faith and commitment.