Village Baptiste
Rod & Angelika Ragsdale - C�te d'Ivoire
Reflections from Germany
July 2011
In This Issue
July in Germany
The April Fall
The Troubled Days
Life for JC Volunteers
Greetings to All
Rod & Angelika
In this issue we would like to share some of what has happened during the past six months in C�te d'Ivoire and in our lives. We also want to let you know that we do let our hair down on occasion and this time we are doing so in Germany.

If there is one thing that makes Angelika smile it is good German bread and sausage, quark, and good discussions with friends auf Deutch. F�r mich das ist nich so einfach!

If there is one that makes me smile it is knowing that Angelika is having a good time and getting these feet off the ground for a bit!
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It has been far too long since I sat down and wrote anything of substance and let you know what is happening with us. I hesitate to write you today because I find myself on a train headed to Heidelberg, Germany and then on to Bruchsal where we hope to spend the week with friends and supporters who have asked us to come a spend a few days with them and do some paragliding. YES, we are in Germany for a short 4 weeks while we have left our charges of 9 Journey Corps volunteers in C�te d'Ivoire in the good care of Bakary Coulibaly, our national coordinator and each one of their host families.

The Fall of the Gbagbo Regime

As most of you are aware, we were through some rather tough days during the first part of the year. With the elections in December the clear winner was Alassane Ouattara, the actual president. As expected, Laurent Gbagbo, the former president did not accept the results, declaring himself the winner the day after Alassane was declared the winner by the Independent Electoral Commission. This lead to an impasse, which Alassane and the international community attempted to resolve peacefully. Gbagbo, refusing to step down and call off his supporters, encouraged by a plethora of self-proclaimed "prophets", retained his grasp of the national television and the military which was under the command of generals partial to Gbagbo and his Popular Front party.

 

During the months of December to March there was a continuous flow of diplomats from all over Africa who came to C�te d'Ivoire to try and convince Gbagbo to step down and release his hold on the military. To no avail came these visits and by the end of March it became clear that Gbagbo would not step down and that force would be necessary. During this time we received a string of refugees from Abidjan, fleeing the violence and uncertainly of life in sections of the city which were under attack by troops loyal to Gbagbo. Troops loyal to Alassane marched on Abidjan the first part of April. There was significant loss of life and serious destruction and looting which took place during these uncertain days.

 

Obama - ADO
Obama greeting Alassane at the G-8 Summit in Deauville, France end of May 2011    

Following the arrival of troops loyal to Alassane in Abidjan, the UN troops and the French military were called into action to neutralize the heavy weapons which were being used by the Gbagbo troops against military and civilian targets. This lead to the pounding of both the presidential palace and the presidential residence in Abidjan as well as the military camps  where troops loyal to Gbagbo were using heavy arms to slow the approach of the Republican Forces of C�te d'Ivoire (FRCI). For over a week Gbagbo held out in the presidential bunker under the presidential residence. Finally on the 11th of April Gbagbo was captured and placed under arrest as well as over 200 others who were found with Gbagbo on the residential compound. It was, as you can imagine a tense time for everyone, one which we are glad is now history!

How We Spent Those Troubled Days

During this time we were relatively unaffected living in the north of the country which was and still is solidly in the hands of troops loyal to Alassane. However, for reasons beyond our control and due to previous issues, during the month of April we had 4 people from our Journey Corps team leave. We also had visits from the US which also entailed making trips to both Abidjan and Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. I think that during the months of March, April and May, we may have traveled over 10.000 kilometers when we factor in all of the round trips from Bouak� to wherever and back again. Through all of ,  this we were never in danger nor had we a break-down and aside from tired backsides, we got to see a lot of country, sleep in a lot of beds, eat in some interesting places and had some great times with visitors from all over the world and our Journey Corps volunteers.

 

So, as I sit here on a train going from G�tersloh to Heidelberg I could ask myself "Why another trip?" Well, besides visiting friends and supporters (as I mentioned earlier), there is a friend of ours who has been flying paragliders for years and he has developed a backpack propeller which allows one to take-off from flat ground without having to jump off a mountain (of which we have relatively few in C�te d'Ivoire). I think you can see where I am going with this! Yep, this is most definitely a pleasure trip.  

Paraglide 

I guess that in life these are necessary from time to time. Yes, I am bringing my parachute but that is just in case we happen to find someone who flies around with his door open!

Life for our Journey Corps Volunteers

As you can imagine, it was with a considerable amount of concern that we left C�te d'Ivoire the 23rd of June, thinking about our Journey Corps volunteers we left behind. We are more and more impressed with them however. They can handle most situations that come their way and if not they know peo

ple who can help. They have a good network of family and friends who understand them and issues that may develop.  They have lived through some of the darkest days C�te d'Ivoire has seen in recent history and although we are a long ways from seeing an end to the violence and uncertainly they have learned th

at life continues in the midst of conflict and destruction. Even more important, they have and are seeing the hand of God move with power through these dark days.

JC Team Lataha
Our JC Team with Bakary Coulibaly, our National Coordinator and Pastor Yeo Abdoulay - Lataha Conference Center, end of June 

 

The longer I work at this the more I am convinced that when an individual has the opportunity to live cross-culturally, he or she begins to see Christ more clearly! It brings into focus those things that are of greater importance and of deeper significance. Somehow discussions about worship forms, music, burial rites, when, where and what, become far less important than the "who". As we have been saying to our Journey Corps volunteers from the beginning, this program is not about what you can do for God, rather who you become because of who he is.  

 

When our Journey Corps volunteers first arrived some of them were heard to say that they joined Journey Corps, "...to give God a year of my life in missions." What they didn't realize at the time is that God doesn't need "a year of my life" for anything or any reason. God allows us to participate in what he is already doing. In some ways we feel badly because we knew what many of them now know and that is that after a year in an Ivorian home in C�te d'Ivoire during times like this you are desperately changed and they will always be drawn back to the relationships they have nurtured during this past year.  

 

Our prayer for all of them is that their relationship with God will be forever changed, that because of having lived outside what had become traditionally "Christian" that they have found a vibrant and living God who interacts with us at all levels.  

 

If you would like to follow some of their journeys click on this link and read about what God is doing in their lives. Journey Corps Reflections  

Thanks again for letting us share our journey with you all. May this find you well and without concern for what tomorrow brings. Blessings too you all.
Because Christ Lives,

 

Rod Ragsdale 

Rod & Angelika Ragsdale - C�te d'Ivoire