Sunday, December 12, 2010

I'm back, and Merry Christmas!

I'm back in America! Thank you all so much for your prayers and support these past two years. I praise God for allowing me to serve Him in Mali the past two years. Some days were definitely easier than others, but it is such a privilege to be used by God to share the gospel. Praise God for the work He is doing in Mali and all over the world!

This Christmas season I've been so thankful for my salvation and thinking about what it was like before people had Jesus. As soon as Adam and Eve sinned, they were promised that one day death would be defeated. God told the snake that Eve would have a descendent and that Satan would bruise His heal, but He would crush Satan's head! God called a people to Himself, revealed Himself to them, showed them their need for a Savior, and promised that one was coming. For thousands of years people waited for that Savior. They struggled to follow the law and have a right relationship with God on their own, but they failed terribly. We can't do it on our own, we can't be good at all, much less good enough for God. That was the point. Try as we might, we desperately need a Savior.
Can you imagine, after thousands of years of waiting, finally Jesus came! Most people didn't recognize Him, but those that did followed Him and many gave their lives for this message. Jesus is the only hope we have.
People before Jesus waited for Him to come, knowing they needed salvation, they needed help. Now, we live as a result of Jesus coming. We have salvation! Our lives need to reflect how great a salvation we were given, how much we were saved from.

What's heartbreaking is that 2,000 years later, so many people don't know. They know they need more, but they don't know what. All over the world we see seekers turning to false religions, trying desperately to work their way to a right relationship when we know that it's impossible. We can't be good enough but praise God we don't have to be! We live in a time of hope, but they don't know it!

Please pray for these people this holiday season. 2,000 years later and they still don't know that they don't have to struggle to find God, struggle to obey God, and still die not knowing where they will spend eternity. God came to them! They don't know that! Pray that they will receive the message of hope they need to hear. They don't have much time.

Here are they lyrics to one of my favorite Christmas songs, Oh, Come, Oh, Come Emmanuel

Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come O Rod of Jesse's stem,
From ev'ry foe deliver them
That trust your mighty pow'r to save;
Bring them in vict'ry through the grave.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Oh, bid our sad divisions cease,
And be yourself our King of Peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Monday, September 6, 2010

I can't think of a title....

My time here is really winding down! I have less than two months left. I extended my term by three months, so my term should really be over by now. I can't believe how quickly time has flown by.
Some really exciting things have been going on here in Mali. A few months ago, there was a training done by some men from Burkina Faso for believers here. The training was on how to share the gospel orally using Bible stories and was for any believer, not just pastors or church leaders. Believers came from all over the country to participate in this training and even put into practice what they had learned.
A couple weeks ago, two of the men who participated in these trainings decided to go to villages and train the people there as well. My supervisor and I went with them to these three villages to watch and help when needed. The people who are in this training first learn a "hook" story, which is really just a story to see if people are interested in hearing more or not. They also learned how to share their testimony and then the gospel, starting with creation and the fall and ending with what Christians do today as a result of our salvation. The believers are required to put into practice what they are learning at the training, and many people were able to here the gospel as a result. Please pray that these believers will have a heart for the lost in their villages and will continue to share faithfully.
Embarrassing story from the trip: Bathrooms in the village are outside and have no door. If you are lucky the walls overlap enough so that no one can see in but ofter times it's just an open space you walk in and you have to be careful to not accidentally scoot in front of it while you are bathing. I was bathing one night and some kids started acting like they were coming in. I screamed," Mogo be, Mogo be!!" which means, someone's in here. They started dying laughing and I realized they were being punks. It happened again, I screamed, they laughed, and I decided I was not playing this game anymore. No matter what happened I would keep my mouth shut.
A few minutes later I heard them say no one was in the bathroom but I didn't pay any attention. Shortly after, a man walked in! They told him to come in! He was mortified and ran out and I was less embarrassed but still a little. Those kids are lucky that I thought it was too funny to be mad!

Prayer Request: Right now Muslims are observing Ramadan, which is a a religious holiday where they fast during the day for 40 days and at the end they pray all night for power from Allah. Please pray that as they are fasting and praying that God will show them the Truth.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I'm Back

I am officially the worst blogger ever. I can't believe it's been six months since my last post! Well, a lot has happened since then. I can't talk about everything, so I'll start in April, the busiest month ever! I had one volunteer come who wanted to stay for three weeks among the people her church has engaged. It was pretty brave of her because April is one of the hottest months! We left Good Friday with the intentions of celebrating Easter weekend with them. It's already an eight hour drive to this village, plus we had a major tire blow out that required buying a new tire (thank God for protecting us and providing someone to change the tire!) so we didn't get to the village until pretty late. The believer there had no idea we were coming, and he was definitely surprised to see us (I'm not sure if it was a pleasant surprise or not). We talked to him and found out that he and the other believers were planning on celebrating Easter the next day, from Saturday night until Sunday morning. In true Malian fashion, they would celebrate with food and dancing.
The next night, we got dressed up in our nicest Malian outfits and started the party. Peter, the leader of the believers spoke to them about Easter, then we got started dancing. We danced the exact same dance to different songs from 9pm-1am. Everyone stands in a circle and walks around doing two steps with their left leg, then two with their right, then back to left, back to right, and so on. No one really kept in beat and some people went faster than the other, so it kind of created a domino effect with all of us in such a crowded circle. There was a lot of tripping and falling into the person in front of you, then pushing them into the person in front of them, and so on. Anyways, after a couple minutes of this the music starts to pick up and the dancing gets a little faster. At this point you turn to face the inside of the circle and your left leg stays semi-still while your right legs does two steps in the front then two in the back. I say semi-still because you're still moving to the right in the circle. Honestly, it's not difficult at all, but I'm a terrible dancer, so it was a little challenging for me. I was the weakest link in the dancing circle and no one liked to be behind me because they would run into me so much. They did, however, like to watch me from outside the circle; they laughed and laughed.

Easter morning we were all tired, but about 20 believers gathered together to hear about the resurrection of Jesus. It was a privilege to celebrate with these new believers, but heartbreaking to know that the rest of the village has no idea what or why we are celebrating.

The rest of the trip went really well. We went to many new villages and found a lot of people interested in hearing more. We even were able to train Peter in going to other villages to share stories from God's Word. Although we have a car and could have driven, we wanted to show Peter that you can go to villages and share the gospel even if you don't have a car, so asked him if we could walk to a village and share the gospel with him. He picked the village and told us that it was 6 kilometers (about 3.5 miles) away (we went back and drove it and it was definitely 9 kilometers!) Our visit went really well and about 50 people heard the gospel. On the way back, Peter told us he wanted to go to another village, this one would be a 15 K (about 9 miles) walk.
"Round trip?" we asked. "No," he replied, "each way." We didn't want to squelch his enthuiasm for sharing the gospel in other villages, so we agreed. That's 18 miles! Oh my, it was a long walk. I was terribly sore the next day, but it was completely worth every step. We were all able to share the gospel and Peter presented a powerful gospel message. He told them plainly that they had to roads to choose, one led to heaven and one to hell. He is a very timid man by nature, but the Holy Spirit has given him incredible boldness in the last year that I've known him.
God is really working among this people group and it is such a privilege to be a part of it!
Please pray for them for two things: First, they are facing a lot of persecution, so please pray that God will give them strength to bear it and that He will continue to grow the church through it. Also, here at the end of dry season, food is running out. It will not be until the fall that the harvest comes in and they will have food. Please pray that God will provide food for them.

After the three weeks in the village, I went on vacation! We went to Paris, Mersaille, and London. France was fine, but London was freezing! I was actually looking forward to coming back to the 110+ temperatures of Mali!

Now I need to share with you two "compliments" I've gotten from Malians.
1) "Oh, Lala (my Malian name), you went to America and you came back big!" It's a compliment to tell people they've gained weight, it means America was good to you.
2)"I want to gain weight so I can be like you, big but not too big"
I realize this is a genuine a compliment as us telling someone they're beautiful or they've lost weight or something, but please keep your compliments to yourself, people!

That's all for now, hopefully it won't be 6 months before my next post!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bainbridge and Baptisms

I just got back from a great week in the bush! I got to go out with one of out teams from Georgia to one of the more southern people groups here. This people group has been notably hard to reach, but God has been so faithful to lead us to a few seekers. One man, Peter told them on a previous trip that he had been waiting 30 years for believers to come. Shortly after, his best friend, Paul, got saved. We have had the privilege of watching them grow and share their faith with people in their village and nearby villages. Both of them have experienced a lot of persecution, especially Paul. He told us the day he became a believer that he would be persecuted, and he was right. He was kicked out of his village and had nowhere for him or his family to live. They told him that he had too much influence on the young men
and they did not want the young men to stray from their muslim faith. He was eventually let back into his village, but he had to promise that he would not try to share Christ with anyone in his village. A couple months ago, he was on a trip to a different city and when he came back he found out that his one-year-old daughter had died of malaria. Because he was a believer, no one was with his wife. She had been alone there with the little girl's body and no one even cared.Through all of this, though, the church there is growing. They now have 50 believers who are meeting together regularly! Praise God! We talked to them on this last trip about the importance of being baptized, and they agreed. Baptism is hard here because it opens them up to even more persecution as they are truly abandoning the muslim faith, but they bravely went forward with it. Please continue to pray for these Christian leaders as they continue to endure through persecution and evangelize their area. They told us that they knew the only way to get through the persecution was to continue to witness. They needed more believers so
that they could encourage each other and work together. Pray for more believers to be added to this number!

Other news, I'll be coming home in a month for 2 weeks for Christmas! I'm so excited to get to see my friends, family, and America for a little while!