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!
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!
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?”
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?
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.
A missionary couple had a dream to bring physical and spiritual sight to the lost. Over 20 years ago this dream was laid on their hearts and now the Lord is bringing it to fruition. For years now, John and Laurie have continued to wait on the Lord to show them where to go, what to do, and how to make His name known among the nations, particularly among the Antanosy people group in Madagascar.
The dream came true as Laurie followed the leading of the Lord to visit the eye clinic. She had been there before but the Lord told her to go back. The doctor wasn’t there this time but she visited with the director. The director showed her around and Laurie was amazed at the equipment and prescription glasses available, but none of these resources were being used! After a few visits to the eye clinic and conversations with the doctor an arrangement was made. Laurie would work for free. The clinic would offer their equipment for her to use for free. The patients would pay as they could to help support the costs of running the eye clinic. And the exciting part is John would come, tell stories from the Bible, share the love of Jesus and help the patients to know how to have spiritual sight along with their new found physical sight!
This new found sight is bringing smiles to the patients. Not only can they see and read, but they are being filled with love, peace and hope as this missionary couple fulfills the call God placed on their lives.
Pray this missionary couple and new believers from the eye clinic would be “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:2)
Everyday we see faces like this Antandroy man. He is listening intently to the stories from God’s word, trying to make sense of this new idea, Jesus, Savior of the world.
Men like this have been hearing these stories, believing and following Christ in faith. Many are also taking these stories and sharing them with their households and friends.
Praise God that children like these will grow up learning these stories! Pray they will come to know the Lord in a personal way and be able to take what they’ve heard and entrust it to those who will be able to teach others also.
Pray the Word of God and a relationship with Jesus Christ would take over as the ultimate source of power in each Antandroy and Antanosy person’s life. Break them away from the power and fear they live in trying to worship and cling to the traditions of pleasing their ancestors.
As they cling to this newfound faith, pray they would be laborers for the harvest is plentiful!
A friend of mine recently told me that she couldn’t separate her call to Christ from her call to missions. She was only five years old when she made that personal decision to follow Christ and it transformed her life forever. Now she has served as a missionary more than half of her life. She’s such an example of obedience to Christ. The status quo support of missions isn’t enough to reach all who are crying out to hear about Jesus. The status quo way of doing missions isn’t enough to reach all who are crying out to hear about Jesus. The status quo method of sending isn’t enough to reach all who are crying out to hear about Jesus. Programs, special events, methods, and just sending people isn’t enough to reach all who are crying to hear about Jesus. Words aren’t enough and it is time for action. Would you pray and ask God to revolutionize your life and my life in how we can be used right where we are and where He desires for us to be tomorrow? Let’s seek His will, His ways, and His power to complete a seemingly impossible task. Many are still dying without knowledge or hope of their future. Although the Lord is moving in miraculous ways among the Antandroy and Antanosy people there are still so many who have not heard the truth of Christ. Pray for national workers to put their plows to the field and catch the vision of multiplying themselves as they testify of what God has done in their lives and as they train trainers.