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!
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
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.
Grant and Steve and two national pastor are in the rural Mahafaly land of Southwest Madagascar this week leading a Lay Leadership Training with two leaders from several villages. They will be teaching through Romans and the qualifications of a Christian leader. There will be difficult subjects such as leaving behind old customs (ancestor worship & sacrifice) and teaching Bible stories with others outside of their own villages. The guys will be able to equip them with an AudiBible that contains the Bible stories in their own dialect.
This is an exciting week in regards to bush ministry and church planting among the Mahafaly. Please pray for this training. Pray that these men will become Godly, spiritual leaders who will teach others with what they have learned and will live their lives as an example for others to follow. Pray for Grant and Steve and these 2 national pastors to have wisdom and the power of God to teach and train these men who are still very young in their faith.
Southwestern Seminary has adopted the Mahafaly of Southern Madagascar. They have partnered with IMB missionary apprentices Adam and Suzie who live among the Mahafaly.
Please pray for a team from the seminary who are in Madagascar now working among the Mahafaly. May the message of the Lord to spread rapidly and be honored (2 Thess. 3:1).
Pray for the Lord to do a great work in the lives of these seminary students as they see God at work among this unreached people group.
Apprentice missionaries Steve & Nickolee and their toddler will be leaving the city of Tulear in which they live and are headed out to the bush in the southwest part of Madagascar where the Mahafaly people live. While it is normal for Steve to go out to the Bush to do ministry, Nickolee and their toddler have only done a trip like this a couple of times. Leaving the comforts of the city and heading out to the very rough and rugged bush isn’t easy so they are asking for your prayer.
They will meet up with Doug and Nathan, two journeymen, who have already started Bible storying sets in the villages of Kilimary & Andremba. On Monday, the guys will be continuing the storying sets in Kilimary or Besatra. Nickolee is excited because it will be her first time to be there when a story is presented. On Tuesday, they will possibily travel farther south to the village of Tanatsoa. Wednesday morning the guys will present the next story in Besatra or Kilimary and then they will travel back to their home in Tulear.
Nickolee writes in their blog: “We’d love to know that while we’re “out of touch” that you guys are faithfully lifting us up to the Father.” Steve and Nickolee ask that you pray for their safety along the roads, opportunities to teach the stories, language & cultural learning/awareness, Nickolee as she has prepared a short devotional to share with the women, bonding as a family as they are able to do bush ministry together, and connections in Betioky as they seek out information towards moving there one day.
Pray also for the villages mentioned: Kilimary, Andremba, Besatra, Tanatsoa. As the Bible stories are presented, pray that the people of these villages to hear, receive and tell others the stories. Pray also that they would take the truths of the stories to heart and respond in obedience to God’s Holy Word.
Please pray for the new believers of Andremba and Tanantsoa village. Pray that God would give them the strength to turn from their traditional ancestral practices, despite the pressures from their communities.