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?”
This sounds like an unusual title, and an unusual prayer request, but this is exactly what we ask you to do for us. In Exodus 17 the Bible tells of how Joshua and his army were victorious over the Amalekites only when Aaron and Hur supported his hands. When Moses’ hands dropped down, the Israelites would be defeated, but they were victorious when his hands were held up. This is a model for us in prayer. This past weekend, March 10th and 11th, our two families who work in Pretoria (see the two men on the far left and far right) did a very intensive discipleship training at a church in the Durban area. More than 60 people were trained with “tools” in how to be “a disciple who makes disciples”. Luke 10:2 says: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few, PRAY to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers” – and this is what we need you now to do…PRAY. These individuals have been trained now to go into the harvest with their testimonies and the gospel of Jesus. Will you support their/our hands through prayer? Satan HATES what we do when we teach followers how to share the gospel, and he loves to cause trials or distractions to stop us/others from doing what God has called us to do. PLEASE pray for boldness, courage, and for much fruit to result for God’s kingdom.
Storms come whether you are ready for them or not! In life these storms can take on many forms: sickness, stress, loss, and chaos. How do you respond when life brings you a storm? We’ve been in the rainy season here in northern Madagascar for the last few months and it has been a good one. However, we’ve had several storms come through our area as well. Through the lightening and thunder we get the glorious rain. That made me think about the storms of life, even through the chaos we can come out the other side to “glorious rain” as long as we trust in the One who can calm those storms. My prayer is that those we walk beside each day, those we teach, those we share His story with, and us as well, would come to hold tight to Him through the storms of life. May each of us hold tight to His promises and comfort shared in His Word. “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2
Recently, Adam made a trip to the capitol, Antananarivo, to visit the seminary and convention leaders. As he was at the seminary he was able to see a handful of students from the South of Madagascar. As he was reporting back to me on the visit and as I later saw the picture of some of the students I was so encouraged.
Sometimes we forget how the Lord has worked and moved in the lives of the nationals when they go away to pursue theological studies. May we reflect and remember all the Lord has done and may we pray as Paul in Philippians 1:3-6, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” God is doing a mighty work among the people of South Madagascar. Would you remember them in your prayers and agree with me that he who began a good work in each of them will bring it to completion?
Recently some of our missionaries visited a new “squatter camp” called Killarny, which is located just outside the beautiful suburbs of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. A “squatter camp” is what is known as a settlement with shacks made of wood, cardboard, tin and other scrap material, where whole families live in a single shack, the size of a garden shed. Most of these people have come from all over Zimbabwe in hope of a better life near the city, and hopefully a job. These few missionaries, along with the partnership of the local Baptist Church, went into this settlement in order to do a “food distribution” to those who are starving. We gave out mealie meal, oil, salt, soy products, beans and tuna chunks. But even more important we went in with the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Most of the 150 people were only hoping to get some nourishment, but we also fed them the word of God, and gave them the hope of salvation which only comes from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Will you pray for Killarny, and for the local church who is reaching out to them, that much fruit would come from the teaching times in this community? The “harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few…so pray” says Luke 10:2. Pray that many would come into God’s Kingdom through the outreach in this community.
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.
If the answer is YES, then you might be feeling like this tree, all alone, at high tide! Sometimes doing what is right and following the truths outlined in the Bible, can leave you standing all alone. I know for our national brothers and sisters, following Christ and His teachings, can leave them either physically or emotionally alone. Our prayer is that even in the midst of many people, they would feel the sweet presence of the Lord. That they can find encouragement and support through His Word, His people, and others that may come into their life. Our prayer is that they would never feel alone, but stand firmly planted in Christ! “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
Swaziland is new territory for our family. My husband was given a new role that includes strategy for reaching the people of Swaziland with the gospel. There are presently NO IMB personnel working among the Swazi. We have made several recent visits to Swaziland to determine God’s plan regarding the spiritual needs of the people living there. We have surveyed the lost and the found. We have met with pastors, churches, and leaders of the Baptist Convention of Swaziland. Here is what we have discovered_
There are 21 Baptist Churches in Swaziland.
There are 12 pastors for the 21 churches.
They are hungry for education in evangelism, discipleship, and church planting.
There is great confusion spiritually, as a nation.
There are many churches, many faiths, few truths.
People are dying with AIDS, Swazi has the highest HIV rate in the world, and the people are dying without Jesus.
There are orphans being raised in Africa Traditional Religion which does not equate to eternal life with Christ Jesus. Swazi has the highest orphan rate in the world.
We will be holding a church planting conference Nov 26-Dec 4. Will you pray for us as we try to equip the local church?
We are also looking for US churches to partner with national Baptist churches to provide ongoing CP training. Could it be that your church could commit to coming 3-4 times per year to encourage and train a group of Swazi believers?
Currently, we have one US church, Ridgecrest Baptist, MO that has committed to this task. We cannot do it alone, will you PRAY?
The strategy utilized among the Basotho of Lesotho, Africa has not changed…engage US churches to engage Lesotho nationals. It is difficult for IMB missionaries to access the hundreds of mountain villages, and lowlands population without help. God has commissioned HIS church to Go and we are asking you to pray and see if God may be asking you to come and work among this unreached people group. Presently, we have 2 IMB career families on the field. We have 1 SBC Direct family working with the Basotho team. How could we possibly reach the 98% of the almost 2 million that remain unreached? An impossible task, but God…but God has given us the following churches to work alongside of us. God has given them a valley full of villages full of lost, hopeless, and confused people. People that He loved enough to give His only Son to provide eternal life. If only they knew of this gift! Please pray for:
FBC Perryton, TX in the Matsoku Valley
River Oak Church, VA in the Khubelu Valley
FBC Roanoke, VA in the Mabunyaneng Valley
Selmore Baptist/Ridgecrest Baptist, partnering together to reach those living in the Makhoaba/Senqu Valley
Broadview Baptist, TX in the Senqu West Valley
Calvary Baptist, FL partnering with another church to reach the Ntsupe Valley
FBC Griffin, GA and Edgewater Baptist, LA in the Senqunyane Valley
A South African church is coming to Lesotho in December to determine where God would have them serve.
Who will go? Could it be you?