When IMB missionaries hit the field, it is back to the classroom. Upon arrival in a new land that is not their own, missionaries often fill like toddlers learning to speak and trying to gain independence. Missionaries often have to go back to class to learn a new language and culture. It can take months and in some places of service years to reach an advanced level of language functioning. This can be a challenging time for missionaries who are eager to share the gospel with their people group. Please pray for missionaries who are actively learning the heart language of the people with whom they have come to share Christ. Pray for our missionaries on the Southeast team as they finish up their time in language school that they would be bold in using what they have learned to share the gospel. “Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,” Ephesians 6:19.
Southeast team missionaries learn Malagasy with a national teacher so that they can engage the Tanala with the gospel.
“What is the gospel?”, is a question that we begin our teachings on in the villages of Southeast Madagascar. Many times even though people are in church they can not tell you what the gospel is. People’s answers often vary from “the church, the Bible, or I don’t know”. The question is a great conversation starter to share Jesus Christ and Romans 10: 9-10. There is a high rate of illiteracy among the people groups of Southeast Madagascar. Therefore we have to present the gospel in a simple form teaching biblical truths in a way that is both memorable and reproducible. We train our believers in simple tools for sharing the gospel with their Malagasy neighbors. The results have been encouraging. Please pray with us as we seek to help the Malagasy people of Southeast Madagascar understand “What is the Gospel”, and as we train believers in sharing their faith.
IMB church planters train believers at the Baptist Church in Manakara, Madagascar using a simple drawn gospel presentation tool.
All aboard the train from Manakara to Finanarantsoa Madagascar, one could find the occasional tourist, Malagasy travelers from business men to villagers, and typical farm animals. The great thing about this old train is that it runs through the mountain areas where the Tanala live. These areas are very hard and sometimes impossible to reach by car or motor bike. One would have to hike days to reach many of the villages. Recently Tim N., church planter among the Tanala, took the train route to research and plan strategy to engage new villages. He stayed in the town of Tolongoina, which is a Tanala regional center along the train route. While on the train, Tim was able to share the gospel with man who knew the mayor of Tolongoina and agreed to accompany him in meeting the mayor. We give praises to God that Tim was able to find favor with government officials there to gain entry to share the gospel. Tim stayed three days in Tolongoina teaching and proclaiming the Word of God. We have been invited to come back to preach and teach in the surrounding Tanala villages. Please join us in praying how to reach these Tanala villages and engage them with the gospel as it takes nearly 10-12 hours to reach them by train.
“Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us,” Psalm 100:1-3
Ancil R. is a church planter among the Antemoro of Southeast Madagascar. He along side his national partners are living Psalm 100 out through their ministry with Antemoro children and youth. Ancil has trained his national partners on sharing scripture through song. They have taught and encouraged youth to put the Word of God to song and trained them in sharing the gospel through those songs in their community. The youth meet on Sunday afternoons to worship, then during the week they craft songs and do evangelism. Almost weekly they are entering village schools to share the gospel through puppet ministry and music. They will even stop on the side of the road to do their shows, which draws a crowd with whom they can share the gospel. Please pray for Ancil and his national partners as they make a joyful noise to the Lord, that they would continue to serve him with gladness, and the Antemoro would hear God’s truth through their songs.
Ancil with his national team sing scripture to children at an Antemoro village school.
When entering a new area of work, missionaries working in Southeast Madagascar must seek permission and favor from the local government. Missionaries must meet with local mayors, kings, and elders to find favor in entering a new community to begin teaching the gospel. When this process is not followed misunderstandings can happen and doors closed. We praise God that we have found favor with government officials among Tanala and Antefasy people groups. Recently missionaries shared the gospel with a mayor, who in turn told them that they must come and proclaim the gospel in his community. Please pray with us as we continue to press into new villages with the gospel that we would continue to find favor.
Meeting with elders in a Tanala village
For years, we have been praying for the church planting job to be filled among the Tanala. The Tanala are 900,000 plus peoples scattered among the Southeast Mountains of Madagascar. Our family realized the magnitude of this task and the need for more workers to join us both from our mission sending agency and in partnering with nationals. In January, our prayer was answered. We welcomed a new missionary couple to the field to work with the Tanala. They are eager to begin learning language and reaching their people. We ask that you would continue to pray with us as we reach the Tanala with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field,” Luke 10:2
Tim, Tanala missionary, hiked with national believers 9.5 miles into the mountains to reach the village of Antaralava. While there, Tim was able to teach the king of the village about the gospel. Pray that he would accept Jesus as his one true King.
Please pray that the message of salvation would spread from the Southeast rain forest to the coastal peoples of Madagascar. Pray as the land is vast that the peoples of the Southeast Madagascar would know the one true Savior. ” I am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior. ” Isaiah 43:11
When we hike in the rain forest to reach the Tanala or go by a wooden canoe on coastal waterways to reach the Antefasy, it can often feel like we are at the ends of the earth. We take comfort in your prayers and that God is with us. “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.” Isaiah 45:2
Tanala women hike narrow paths to their village.
People use wooden canoes for fishing and travel along the coasts.
Upon a recent trip to the Tanala village of Ankazotsara, Tim, missionary, and Jeremiah, stateside volunteer, were encouraged to find families remaining faithful in studying God’s word. Work began in this rain forest village in the fall of 2010. A group began to form and study God’s word, believers were baptized and trained. Of that original group, two families have remained faithful in meeting to worship and study God’s word. The families have continued to baptize new believers. Most recently Papan’ i Dery, the leader of the group, reported that they had baptized two more people.
Before Papan’ i Dery met Jesus he loved Toka-gasy, locally brewed sugarcane liquor. Tim remembers a few Bible studies in 2011 when Papan’ i Dery showed up intoxicated. Now, he has repented of his alcoholism and believed the gospel. Jesus changed his life; The Holy Spirit is empowering him to live sober at the feet the of Jesus. He is growing in knowledge of the Bible and shepherding his family and others in Ankazotsara. Today his family stands firm in their faith and they no longer practice the traditions of ancestor worship with their village neighbors, instead they share the gospel with them.
Please pray that Papan’i Dery and the believers in Ankazotsara continue to study God’s word together and endure in the faith. Pray that they would be bold in proclaiming the gospel among the villages of the Tanala.
Tim makes a cooking fire in the home of Papan’i Dery.
Lolo, with her baby, she is a faithful believer.
Reading God’s Word in the village of Ankazotsara
Recently the Washer family traveled to Southeast Madagascar to accompany Amber and Kayla, journey girls, to minister among the Antefasy. While there, Washer followed-up with Dada, a man he had previously led to Christ. Washer led Dada and his family through a lesson on baptism. Immediately, Dada wanted to go to the river and obey in baptism. However, while on the way to the river Salva, national partner to the journey girls, said that he had never been taught about believer’s baptism and wanted to be baptized too. Many surrounding villagers came to watch the baptism. Dada was all smiles and excited to share his faith with the people. Washer said that the best part of their trip was sharing with Juan, Dada’s friend, who accepted Jesus as his Savior. Juan said that he saw the change in Dada’s life and wanted what he had. We ask that you continue to pray for these new believers among the Antefasy, and that they would be bold in sharing their faith.
The guitars are strumming, the drums are beating and the Antaimoro (ahn-tay-MOO-roo) tanora (young people) are spreading the Gospel and Creation to Christ through music that they have written themselves. As they travel from village to village, they are teaching songs, with words taken directly from The Word, telling the story of God’s redeeming grace. All Malagasy love to sing, make music and learn new songs. In one village, 250 people come each week to learn more about the Gospel, as they learn God’s Word through song. Pray that as the Antaimoro people learn these songs, that salvation would take root in their hearts.