As most of you are preparing to gather around the table with family to celebrate Thanksgiving/Christmas, we wanted to share with you about our mission family. Saying leaving family in the States behind as we come to serve the Lord overseas is “hard” is an understatement. But that said, the Lord has provided us with an amazing mission family that we can come and serve alongside. With all the many changes the IMB is going through, our mission family is changing and many are transitioning back to the States. I ask you to pray for those who will be leaving that the Lord would guide their steps. Also pray for those of us who are still on the mission field that the Lord would work mightily with those few of us who are left behind and that the nationals that we have been working with would step up even more than they already have and that many people would come to know the Lord!
Here in Botswana foot paths are everywhere so it makes sense in our presentation of the gospel to use an analogy of paths. We present Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” We draw this in the sand or on a piece of paper: a wide path with lots of people on it and an arrow leading to destruction; and then a narrow path with few people on it and an arrow leading to life. We explain that we are all on the wide path (Romans 3:23 and Psalm 51:5) and talk about the only way to get from the wide path to the narrow path is through repenting and believing in the gospel (Mark 1:15 and I Corinthian 15:1-5) and so we draw a cross between the 2 paths. We recently taught this at the Friday children’s ministry at Gaborone Baptist Church and 15 of them asked Jesus to come live in their hearts. We also challenged them to share this good news with someone this week. Maybe you have your own way of presenting the gospel to those around you and maybe you don’t. I challenge you to share the gospel with someone around you today.
A young man named Sets lived in the dark village of Ditshewagne (Dee-say-wah-knee). There was not an evangelical church in this area but Sets was searching for something that he didn’t even know he was searching for. He became involved in a church and rose up quickly in the church through works and donations. One day Sets received a bible and started to read it and noticed there were different things he was hearing in his church versus what he was reading in his bible. Upon questioning leadership, he decided to leave the church and began searching in other churches for the truth. After feeling a burden to visit this village 2 hours from the capital city, a national pastor alongside of a missionary started doing evangelism in Ditshewagne. One day they came across Sets and he said he knew all the things they were talking about and wanted to know how to have a relationship with Jesus. Sets gave his life to the Lord, was baptized and now is helping plant a Baptist church in his home village. John 8:32 says “You will know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”
“I want to be born again.” As these words rolled off of the lips of a young woman named Molly, I sat in amazement at how God is working in the village of Gatwane, Botswana. Two weeks earlier Abram, a local lay-pastor and farmer was in the village of Gatwane and met a young lady named Bonnie. Through using the story of Two-Paths found in Matthew 7, Abram shared the gospel with Bonnie. Abram called me and asked me to follow up with her. When I met with Bonnie I reviewed the story of Two-Paths with her and she was born again. My church in Lobatse was in the midst of a week of praying and fasting. As a church we prayed for Bonnie and the multiplication of believers in Gatwane. Eight days later I was sitting in Bonnie’s house and Molly walked in curious about what we were doing. I explained to Molly that we were studying God’s word together and she said, “I want to be born again.” Working together with Bonnie, we shared Two-Paths with Molly. That day we watched God answer our prayers as He added another believer to His kingdom .
Would you pray for Bonnie and Molly to grow in their walk with God that they would walk in obedience of sharing the gospel with those around them. Pray that they would start a small group bible study in their home that would lead to a group of believers meeting as a church.
Pray that God would continue raising up young people throughout Sub Saharan Africa to take the Gospel to the unreached on their own continent. Here’s one story of how God is at work: John’s* father was a traditional healer—communicating with ancestral spirits and performing ritual ceremonies. John’s home was a village in rural Botswana, controlled by African Traditional Religion and overflowing with desperate, fearful people, striving to gain power over dark spiritual forces. Jane* grew up in Zimbabwe with no knowledge of Christ’s love and sacrifice for her. When she was still in high school, her family fled their home in search of financial security and a better life in Botswana.Strangers, John and Jane enrolled at the University of Botswana, with hopes for future success and prosperity.But God had something more in mind for them. Something eternal.On separate occasions, they met an IMB missionary and began studying the Bible with a group of Christians on campus. Jane and John both accepted Christ at different times and began the process of discipleship, stretching their roots deep into their newfound faith. Through His power, God had transformed their lives, and they began boldly sharing that news with others. As they continued making disciples, they had a revelation: they were on the same path in life—both seeking God wholeheartedly, with a passion to see his name made great in Botswana. Why not make the journey together? In the near future, John and Jane will marry and serve Christ together. Will you pray for John and Jane? Pray that God would provide for them as they daily take up their crosses and follow Christ. Pray that He would continue raising up a new generation of African missionaries like Jane and John to take the Gospel to those who haven’t yet heard.
You know you love a moment when you take a bazillion pictures. That’s just what our day held at Calvary Baptist Church as they baptized 10 new believers. There are so many things that are so different from our culture that the experiences can sometimes be overwhelming and I mean that in a good way. The baptisms here are a day long event, not necessarily because of the services but because of having to make a makeshift baptism, fill it with water, and then try to heat some of the water since we are now in our “winter” season. One of the most memorable baptisms is of this young lady who has been crippled from birth as they lifted her over the side of the baptism and lowered her in the water…I know heaven was rejoicing! We had an amazing day with these new believers. See http://theturneradventures.blogspot.com for more pictures from this day.
Life is all about choices, sometimes we make the right choices and unfortunately sometimes we make the wrong choices. Mary had been involved in bible study for 2 years when she showed up at my gate unwed and pregnant. The women in the bible study stood beside her and helped her as she became a single parent. When she told us her boyfriend was going to move in with her, we confronted her with the Truth of what the Bible says about it. She became more and more distant over the next couple of years and rarely attended bible study. Not all stories have the “happily ever after” that we read about, but I am thankful to tell you about how our God has restored Mary beyond any hope I had…He never gives up! Mary showed up at my door recently with her now 3 year old and told me how God had been working in her life and she realized she was not living a life that would be pleasing to God. She told her boyfriend that they could no longer live together and that she wanted to do what was right and get married. He told her he did not want to marry her, so she is no longer with him. She now is happier than I have ever seen her as she has experienced the FREEDOM that is found in Christ. God is working in her life and she is starting back in bible study. Thanks be to God for never giving up on us!
Sitting under a tree on a carved wooden stool, I opened my Bible and began sharing the gospel with a family I had met only moments before. As the translator was translating my English into Setswana many thoughts of doubt entered my mind if this family really understood what I was sharing. When finished, most of them laughed with nervousness, not really knowing how to respond. The next day we went back to the same family. There were fewer of them this time, but the mother was there again. We shared with them the story of Zacchaeus, and as we were discussing the story the mother asked the question; “How can I be saved? I am living with a man who I am not married to.” That day she surrendered her life to Jesus. God gently spoke to my heart that He had been working on the hearts of these people long before we arrived. At the beginning of March six college students from Mississippi dedicated their spring break to come to Botswana and share the gospel in the village of Sese. The volunteer team and national believers worked together in sharing the gospel house to house and discipling new believers. The team was used by God in the village of Sese, and we were able to see God bring salvation to people who had the hardest of hearts, such as a man who was making a living as a witch doctor and to those who were deceived by false prophets. God is working in the village of Sese!
In a country with a total population of just over 2 million people, Botswana has about 26 Baptist churches in the entire country and only 15 having pastors. Recently, the Baptist Convention of Botswana held an ordination for a man who the Lord has called to be a pastor. Please pray that the Lord would call more men like him to the ministry and that we would be “equipping His people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.”
God is faithful and shows us how much He loves us through great and mighty ways but also in the small everyday things of life. We live in a primarily English speaking city here in the capital of Botswana, but when we travel outside of the city to the villages to share Christ we really need to use the local language of Setswana. As we went out as a family to the village of Mochudi, this day all of our possible interpreters were busy. My husband understands the language better than I do. yet I can speak it better than he does. So as I tried to my best to relate to them what scripture we would be studying this day I just could not remember the word for “read”. I had the rest of the sentence formulated but just couldn’t remember. A young girl walked up and my husband told me to ask her her name. As I asked her in Setswana, she responded to me, “My name is ‘Bala’ which means ‘read’”. I just smiled as God yet again showed Himself faithful in providing for all of our needs…even that one Setswana word I couldn’t remember.