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!
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?”
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!
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.
“‘If you remember my laws and commands and obey them, then I will give you rains at the right season; the land will produce crops, and the trees of the field will produce their fruit.
Namibia is experiencing its worst drought in thirty years. As the grass is depleted and the boreholes are drying up, cattle, sheep, and wildlife are dying. The clouds often begin building up in the sky only to dissipate before any rain has fallen on this extremely dry land. This physical crisis seems to be a daily reminder of the spiritual drought which is also evident in this country. The believers here are battle-weary and it has become a rarity to find those believers who are remaining actively faithful to all that God has called them to. Raising up godly leadership is almost insurmountable as Satan discourages and steals away any promising leaders. Please beg God to pour out His Spirit and move among His children in a refreshing and revitalizing manner that will cause these Namibian believers to mature and reproduce followers of Jesus. We also ask that you join us in pleading with God to “give us rain at the right season so that the land will produce crops, and the trees of the field will produce their fruit.”
The Baptist Convention of Zimbabwe is sponsoring a leadership retreat for pastor, deacons, as well as other church leaders and their wives July 11-13. Pray that the meeting will be well attended. Pray for the Convention leadership as they cast a vision and challenge church leadership to be more personally involved in supporting evangelistic outreach, church planting and other work in which the Baptist Convention is involved. The churches will also be challenged to support their convention better financially and through prayer.
Grant and Steve and two national pastor are in the rural Mahafaly land of Southwest Madagascar this week leading a Lay Leadership Training with two leaders from several villages. They will be teaching through Romans and the qualifications of a Christian leader. There will be difficult subjects such as leaving behind old customs (ancestor worship & sacrifice) and teaching Bible stories with others outside of their own villages. The guys will be able to equip them with an AudiBible that contains the Bible stories in their own dialect.
This is an exciting week in regards to bush ministry and church planting among the Mahafaly. Please pray for this training. Pray that these men will become Godly, spiritual leaders who will teach others with what they have learned and will live their lives as an example for others to follow. Pray for Grant and Steve and these 2 national pastors to have wisdom and the power of God to teach and train these men who are still very young in their faith.
Christian Youth Leadership camp takes place in Cape Town this week, March 12-15, wrapping up on Sunday, March 24th. We will be inviting the leaders from the schools, parents, campers, and local Baptist churches. FUGE leaders will be working with our CTMET team. We would encourage you to invite your prayer supporters to join us in prayer, as well. The more the merrier, well actually the more will have an opportunity to take part in and see our God be glorified!
“Now glory be to God! By His mighty power at work within us, He is able to accomplish infinitely more than we could ever dare to ask or hope. May He be given glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever through endless ages. Amen” Ephesians 3:20-21