David and Julie write: “We had an unexpected revelation about the resistance we have been feeling in the L* community over the last year. When the children stopped coming to Sunday School for no apparent reason and our weekly visitors suddenly stopped coming, we were suspicious that something was not right. This week it has finally been revealed to us that a rumor has been spread in the community that we are not really a church but a part of one of the South African political parties, and our reason for being in the area is to recruit votes for that specific party. There is a great political battle in the area in light of the upcoming elections next year. The area was controlled by one party, until the last election when a different party took control in a close election. So, people are being told that they had better not be seen associating with us or they will be considered as joining a specific political party. While it is good to know what the problem is, we are uncertain of how to overcome the false perception that has been accepted as truth by the community.” Pray that the truths of God’s Word will penetrate the hearts of people in these areas. Pray that those who follow Christ will stand firm in their faith. Pray for protection as missionaries travel in and out of communities like these across South Africa.
There are 800,000 Northern Betsimisaraka, a people who live on the northeast coast of Madagascar. Less than 1% is thought to be born again and there are no known evangelical missionaries working among them, at least not until a month ago.
Sleve (yes, like a shirt sleeve) was visiting a town in the northwest 13 hours (by taxi bus) from his village. IMB missionaries met this man on the street, witnessed to him and sent him home with a tract. He called Michael, one of the missionaries, a week later and joyfully proclaimed that he had decided to follow Christ. After a couple of months, Michael was finally able to travel to Sleve’s village. Sleve gathered a crowd to hear the gospel. Michael shared the gospel, beginning with creation and culminating with Jesus’ death and resurrection. Then Michael shared Mark 1:17, “Come follow Me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”
Sleve didn’t just simply hear this message; he took it to heart and obeyed it. He immediately began sharing with the people in his village. Michael gave Sleve and his village several Bibles because they had none before. Sleve began reading his Bible every chance He could get. He would learn something from the Bible and then turn around and teach others what He learned. Then Sleve thought about the people in the further out villages that needed to hear so he hiked into the rainforest to share the gospel with six villages. Three villages were open to listening and three rejected the message. On Sleve’s first journey, he traveled 67 kms (41.5 m). When he returned a week later, he said his feet were very sore. (of course)
Sleve is a vanilla farmer so he returned home to work in his fields. But as soon as he caught up with his work, he set again to return to the villages that were open. Praise the Lord for this life that has been so radically changed by Jesus. And praise the Lord for a believer who passionately walks by faith (literally) in obedience to the Lord.
Pray for Sleve. He is still a new believer and needs to be disciple and grounded in God’s Word. There is an IMB missionary request to work with the Northern Betsimisaraka. There are currently no other foreign evangelical missionaries working in this area. But praise the Lord there is a home missionary. Pray for the Lord to call out the right family to fulfill this request and pray for the Lord to raise up more fishers of men among the Betsimisaraka.
Being overseas tells a lot about a person. The most important lesson that I have learned is to trust God and no-one/nothing else, including myself.
“You see when everything is taken away from you; you start to see that you now have everything.”
For Example: When I had surgery, I truly thought that was my last 6 months to live. When you’re faced with that, you can shut down, get mad or continue to live each day with what means the most to you. For me that was glorifying the One I love, God. I don’t know if I ever told my family this, but I had goodbye letters written to them, that they would have found in a journal and a letter to be read at my funeral.
Then I made it through surgery, through the grueling year and ½ of recovery, learning how to do everything all over again. Learning how to walk, sit, stand, sleep, take a shower, walk without a walker, get out of bed without assistance… Learning everything again. But through all that God showed me how to truly love and how to truly live. Without that 6 months leading up to surgery, without learning how to live again after surgery I would have never learned how to love the unlovable, how to forgive the unforgiveable. I learned what it was like to live as Christ. When you live for Christ you stop living for the money, or the job. People are who is important. People are who need to be shown God’s love.
Now being overseas, everything is taken away again, my family, my church, my friends, my culture, everything I know is on the other side of the world. But God is here, and He is showing me, teaching me, and saying “TrustMe.” He has brought me to the end of myself and all that is left is Him.
That’s when “everything is taken away from you and you see that you now have everything.”
Pray for Matt, the strategy leader for Madagascar. There are many, very spiritually needy people groups in Madagascar. Matt has the difficult task of prioritizing these unreached people groups. The higher the priority, the more likely this people group will receive a missionary to work among them. Pray for Matt to have wisdom from the Lord in determining the greatest areas of need and lostness. Pray for Matt to have wisdom and the Lord’s power in all his work, including teaching and training future Malagasy pastors and church planters to reach the the lost peoples on their massive island.
A missionary family and Malagasy national partners are needed to help reach the 424,000 Sihanaka peoples of Madagascar. Please pray for the Lord to call laborers into His harvest field. The Sihanaka who live north of the capital of Antananarivo around the extremely large Lake Alaotra have been neglected by mission outreach. Please pray that they will be neglected no longer and that the Lord would burden His people to go to and pray for these very lost people.