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!
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’s that time of year, when many people pack up and prepare to serve the Lord around the world. International World Changers from the state of Louisiana are in route to Fort Dauphin, Madagascar. They will be on the ground from May 19-30. Pray for the villages they will serve, including Tsihombe, Salohimahasoa, Marovato and more. Pray for the hearts of those they will be sharing with to be receptive to the Gospel. Pray also for their time in Fort Dauphin as they use sports ministry to reach the youth of Madagascar. Pray for logistics and their health.
There are other volunteer teams in and coming to South Madagascar. Keep this area of the country in your prayers. Pray the Lord would continue to see the missionaries and these volunteer teams through to the finish
As the time of singing came to an end, the congregation waited in anticipation for the young preacher to begin his sermon. He set his Bible and notes on the table before him and paused. “Raise your hand if you’re alive?” he started. “Raise your hand if you’re alive?” One-by-one most of the people raised their hand. He proceeded to preach verse by verse from Colossians 3 about putting on the new self. When he reached verse 3 he asked the congregation again to, “Raise your hand if you’re alive.” This time there was hesitation. “Raise your hand if you’re dead,” he rephrased his question. More hesitation, but again one-by-one hands started going up.
You see, we are called to die to ourselves and be hidden in Christ that when he returns we would join him in glory. In Galatians 2:20 we are reminded, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” This young preacher captured the attention of the congregation and made a lasting impact on the fact that we need to put away the old self and “whatever we do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Col. 3:17)
Pray for this congregation to live out Colossians 3.
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.
The cassava crop, their staple food, has been devastated by famine and drought.
As in many other parts of Africa, a famine has taken over southwest Madagascar and become the consuming fear for the thousands of already drought ridden Mahafaly people. Families who were already living off of one meal a day, are now faced with the choice of eating unripened cassava, causing poisoning and sometimes death, or of going without food at all. Few families have any livestock left to trade, and men, women, and children alike are deteriorating in the midst of one of the worst famines and droughts the people have ever experienced. In the midst of the fear and suffering, the believers of these isolated villages continue to travel out in order to share the Gospel, disciple new believers, and train up churches. Their faith in the Lord during one of the darkest times pushes us to pray harder, serve with more passion, and to minister unwaveringly. Please pray with us as we do what seems like an impossible task. Please pray for the hundreds of thousands of people suffering and dying, and also for the many believers who are desperately clinging to the Word of God in the midst of such a time. Pray that we would be compassionate, culturally aware and diligent in ministering to these people. Pray for wisdom in the days ahead, where we are called to minister to both the physical and spiritual needs of these beloved people of the Lord.
James* is a 16-year-old Malagasy believer who has hung on every word of Bible training and disciple-making. He travels to villages with his pastor to introduce the Gospel to those who have never heard. He recently has seen the need to organize a regular activity for youth his own age. Beginning in June, James will host a soccer day one Saturday a month for the hundreds of youth in surrounding villages. He will then teach the Bible stories that he has learned as he tells the youth how God changed his life. Let’s join together to pray for James. Pray for his physical strength. Pray for his ability to keep studying. Pray that God would use him as His mouthpiece to the youth of His land.
Please pray for the indigenous church planting movement that has begun among the Vezo people. Pray that the churches would reach out to remote villages and that they would be strong in doctrine and discipleship. Pray for the congregations to be generous in their giving to support the pastors and evangelism efforts.
We praise God for the great work He is doing among the Masikoro people and throughout the island. As the gospel is spreading throughout many unreached areas, we are witnessing an increase in spiritual attacks, specifically towards the missionaries.
Please pray for the national believers and missionaries to stand strong as we face these attacks. Pray for the Malagasy believers to continue to reach out to the Masikoro people and other people groups. Pray for God’s will to be done and the kingdom work to flourish even in the midst of great trials and tribulations.
There were 18 people in the small mud house. It had to have been 100 degrees inside, but the room was so small that there wasn’t enough space for everyone to sit comfortably without touching someone else. So we just kind of overlapped as we sat, sweated, and watched the Jesus Film in the Bara language. No one in the room had ever seen anything other than music videos in their heart language. They gasped when they saw Peter pull in the net full of fish. They clicked their tongues when they saw Jesus being beaten. They heard how to become a follower of Jesus like Peter was.
Please pray for the Bara people–that they would have the opportunity to respond to the message of hope of new life available through Christ’s sacrifice. Please pray for us–that we would learn how to present the gospel in a way that is easily understood by the Bara people.