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.
K & F were invited to a wedding in a community where they have been ministering lately. A young man, whom they have been discipling, shared boldly with the H**du guests.
The Lord brought K & F to a sari shop on the east coast of the island in a strong H**du town to start discipleship with a new believer.
A friend of K & F invited them to share with a doctor who was open to spiritual conversation. This meeting turned into weeping repentance as she placed her faith in Jesus.
Will you pray for K & F as they go into spiritually dark areas where the Gospel has yet to go?
- Pray for strength and stamina
- Pray against spiritual opposition
- Pray for them as they enter the last trimester of pregnancy for F
- Pray against discouragement as they encounter obstacles
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.
Thanks so much for praying for the Urban Conference in Harare. Urban Specialist, Kurt Holiday, showed us how to learn more about our city, the people in our city, and how we can be pro-active in bringing God’s “shalom” to our cities.
The discussion groups were lively as people began to generate practical ideas their churches could use to engage in Kingdom activities in Harare.
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We are praising the Lord that very recently 20 believers were trained in the Malherbes community in T4T/4-Fields. Many of these trained believers then went into their community and shared the Gospel over one weekend. From that one weekend there were 34 who accepted Jesus as their Savior. We give all glory to God for what He has done in this community. Now we ask that you’d please pray as these new believers are grouped into Houses of Peace (HOPs). Pray also that they’d continue to be obedient disciples, who make disciples, and that churches will grow from this one community.
On December 14, 2012, Riley Henri died in a tragic car accident. He was in the prime of his life, and left a young widow, Patricia, and her 7 year old son, Kendis. One of Riley’s dreams which he shared with us before this fatal day, was to have a Bible teaching church in his little town of Flic en Flac.
Now, 4 years later, that dream is coming true. Next month we will be starting “church” in Patricia’s home. God has done this in answer to prayer. When Riley died we were given the promise from John 12:24 “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” We believe that Riley’s death was not in vain. He are praying for much fruit to come from this one accident. We are praying that this new “church” will be the beginning of something huge. Please join us in praying that much fruit comes from this new church start
Remember the story of our Vincent*, and how God saved him from a life of Hinduism to one of freedom in Christ? Well we wanted to briefly update you on Vincent’s walk with the Lord since becoming a follower of Christ, and how you can continue to pray for him.
These past 2 months have not been easy for Vincent*. No one in his family is happy about his new commitment to Christ. He is daily studying God’s Word, praying, meeting with Fred, obeying what God shows him, but he’s also experiencing rejection and difficulties.
However, this past week we were incredibly proud of Vincent* as he obeyed the Lord in the waters of baptism. He had every reason NOT to be baptized on this particular day. He had woken-up earlier that morning with very high fever, headaches, achy joints, chronic coughing, and just feeling terrible. But he also knew that this was the day that he had committed himself to take the next step of obedience and be baptized. So here he came to our house as planned, and knocked on our door saying he was ready to go to the ocean and be baptized. Fred and I took one look at him and questioned him if he was sure he wanted to do it today? We didn’t want to discourage him, but he looked terrible. His eyes were swollen and red, his face puffy, his coughing relentless, and we just knew he felt awful. But he said: “Yes…I must do it today!”
Fred sat together with Vincent* in our living room, and walked him through all the examples in the book of Acts of all those who immediately followed the Lord in baptism. Fred reminded and encouraged Vincent that his job was only to obey God’s Word. We then sat together with Vincent* and taught him the song: “I have decided to follow Jesus”, and sang it together and then prayed with him. One of the verses in the song says: “If none go with me, I still will follow, No turning back, No turning back”, and we encouraged Vincent* that his job was to follow and obey God even when none go with him.
Will you pray for Vincent*, and for those Hindu followers of Christ who live with us on our island? Pray that the Lord would use them mightily to reach their households, and villages for God’s kingdom. Pray for them as they suffer persecution and rejection. Please pray that much fruit would come from their obedience to God.
The Father’s Heart
Christ loves the church so much and gave Himself up for her. As we obey His command to go and make disciples, we want churches to be planted all across the countries of the Ocean2Ocean Cluster, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean. Several of our personnel from different countries will be attending a church planting training to learn effective ways to multiple disciples and churches. In addition, several of our personnel will be going to teach at this same training. “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.” Isaiah 64:4 Pray that as we come together for training God will speak through the trainers, that all those learning will hear from the Father and know His Heart, that each of us will be challenged daily be obedient disciples.
Mako, one of the guys I have been mentoring, brought one of his friends today to our weekly discipleship meeting. I asked his friend, Q, why he was at the meeting today. He said “I want to learn to use the Bible.” I searched in my heart what the Lord would have me say to him, so I asked him if he knew for certain if he would go to heaven when he died. He said, “No, I don’t know for sure.” I told him that this is the first step in knowing how to use the Bible. I shared the gospel with him and Q trusted Christ! I shared with him the need for baptism and finding a church home. We will plan a time when we will go to the beach and he will be baptized. God is amazing how He brings people together! I’m so grateful that the Lord is giving Mako a heart to serve Him and bring others to Christ! Please pray for these young believers.