Any involvement in ministry has its ups and downs.
In Fort Dauphin, we just wrapped up a week of ups! Sixty brothers and sisters in Christ came together every day this past week to learn under the teachings of a seminary professor and pastor from the States. In the mornings, they studied and discussed Christian Ethics. These sessions included much conversation about cultural influences on a Christian’s life. In the end, the Word of God is the plumb-line. Each afternoon, they looked at God’s grace. What an amazing study with unfathomable reason, but for grace! These individuals represent 25 churches that have been planted in recent years. There was not enough space for all our partners, but these individuals will go back and teach their disciples and congregations what they’ve learned. Pray they will continue to ponder the truths they learned as they teach others and spur one another on. Also, praise God for all he’s done and is going to do in the Antandroy and Antanosy regions!
How often do plans get changed?
Why are we surprised?
Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Yet when it comes to plans any change can be so hard to accept. Recently, there was a bush trip planned. Brett and Katelyn were so excited to follow up with a village they had shared at previously. About two and a half hours into the trip, their car broke down. They wanted to press on but were advised to turn back so the car could be repaired and they could be safe. They obliged. But it wasn’t until they arrived in town after being towed in and got the news that the issue with the car was serious that they accepted the change and were thankful they’d turned back. The next day they got word that the national partner they were going to work with had a baby that morning. We don’t always know why plans change, but we can rest assured that God is not surprised. His ways are higher than our ways. May we trust him at all times in all ways!
Making disciples is a journey. It takes each believer along a learning curve that is continually ebbing, flowing and growing. The vastness of strategies, ideas, trainings and books that offer suggestions for what’s best can be overwhelming. In the midst of all these amazing ideas and tools, one truth remains, the plumb line, the best strategy, the Word of God. As missionaries and national partners go out proclaiming the gospel and seeking to make disciples it’s important to take many things into consideration including context, reproducibility, longevity and end goal. It’s also just as important to know “what’s next”. Each time a new relationship is formed or a group meets, the missionary or national partner, every believer, should ask themselves, “what’s next?”
In Fort Dauphin and the surrounding bush villages much thought, discussion and planning has gone into this process of making disciples. There is continuing discussion on best practices and consideration for what needs to change. Two years ago a group consisting of the six leaders over Antandroy and Antanosy work met together. Recently, another group of leaders over these same two regions met. This time there were 30 leaders. The gospel is spreading. Disciples are making disciples. Workers and leaders alike are rising up. As you pray for this work to continue, don’t forget to ask yourself, “What’s Next?”
Recently some of our missionaries visited a new “squatter camp” called Killarny, which is located just outside the beautiful suburbs of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. A “squatter camp” is what is known as a settlement with shacks made of wood, cardboard, tin and other scrap material, where whole families live in a single shack, the size of a garden shed. Most of these people have come from all over Zimbabwe in hope of a better life near the city, and hopefully a job. These few missionaries, along with the partnership of the local Baptist Church, went into this settlement in order to do a “food distribution” to those who are starving. We gave out mealie meal, oil, salt, soy products, beans and tuna chunks. But even more important we went in with the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Most of the 150 people were only hoping to get some nourishment, but we also fed them the word of God, and gave them the hope of salvation which only comes from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Will you pray for Killarny, and for the local church who is reaching out to them, that much fruit would come from the teaching times in this community? The “harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few…so pray” says Luke 10:2. Pray that many would come into God’s Kingdom through the outreach in this community.
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.
In just 5 days a very exciting event is beginning in the city of Pretoria, South Africa. Proverbs 27:17 says: “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend” – and for the next 5 days 70 leaders from all over Africa will gather for a “sharpening” time. During this week we will all participate in what we call a “SWARM”, which is when we all enter an area, walking down the streets of downtown, two by two, sharing “My Story” (our testimonies) and “His Story” the Gospel with those we encounter. Is it any coincidence that there are 70 missionaries due to attend, and in Luke 10:2 it talks about “70”?! This SWARM event is an opportunity for the participants to find God Prepared People (GPP), and Houses of Peace (HOP). Please pray now for this very important meeting, also pray throughout the next month that much fruit would result from this teaching time.
“Satan dreads nothing but prayer. His one concern is to keep the saints from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, he mocks our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray.” (Samuel Chadwick)
This is the month that a brand new discipleship group begins in a Pretoria home! This group will be training men and women on how to be a disciple who makes disciples! Already much spiritual warfare has been experienced by those preparing for this training. Ephesians 6 tells us clearly that we “wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places”. Therefore, we are commanded to put on our spiritual armor each and every day, and to “pray always” (Ephesians 6:18) for each other.
Will you do this now? Satan is working overtime to stop this teaching from beginning. Pray now for this group, that God would strengthen them and establish them for His glory. Pray for their protection from the schemes of Satan. Ask God to use this group to bring much fruit for God’s kingdom.
*Burt and *Belinda have been working full-time in Kingdom work for the past twelve months. They are leaders in the work on the island. They have baptized numerous people, and they are currently leading two house churches. They disciple 10 people regularly and have participated in most of our SWARMS. We have loved seeing God change their hearts to be busy in broken and lost communities. They are faithful to share the Gospel to their family, neighbors and in communities where many people will not go because of the crime and drugs.
They have found creative ways to maintain their livelihood, while at the same time dedicating much time in the Kingdom work on the island. One of the creative businesses they run from their home is “Nature’s Creation”. They make natural, orgainc soap in their living room. *Belinda grows and uses plants, flowers and herbs from her garden (and sometimes ours) and she and her husband use all natural ingredients to make this incredible soap.
*Belinda is also an amazing cook and we regularly order food from her when we have fellowships, CORE meetings and leadership trainings.
They have been a blessing to us in ministry! Will you pray for them?
- Pray for setbacks as they work in many broken communities and have experienced personal hurts while helping people whom they are ministering.
- Pray for their livelihood. Pray that God would continue to sustain them and provide for them so that they can continue in the Four Fields work on the island.
- Pray that they would continue to trust in Him and walk through each door He opens, trusting that God will be honored and glorified in all that they do.
- Pray that they would remain faithful, fruitful & obedient!
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.
It is almost impossible to imagine a people who have never heard the story of Jesus. In the Maluti Mountains, of Lesotho, Africa there are literally thousands of villages living in darkness. In June of 2017, IMB missionaries will make a huge effort to dispel the darkness by providing evangelism and discipleship training to approximately 200 young adults from Lesotho and Swaziland. Teams from America will come and help train these potential “church planters” to take the gospel, to disciple, to worship in Spirit and in Truth. Will you PRAY that the God of all Gods makes Himself known among these people? June 23-28 Church Planting Boot Camp 2017