When we arrived, we were told that the next day we would be going to an area on the outskirts of town to spend the night. The missionaries told us that they had never taken a team here and they really were not sure why we were going. All they knew is that as they prayed about the schedule for our team, the Lord had said to go here. They told us that this area had lots of worship of Satan and that Wednesday was a day to "celebrate" Satan with alters, sacrifices and worship. Trusting and obeying, we all loaded up on Sunday and headed out! Our only plan was to have some good team time in preparation for the week, and to hike to the top of the hill to pray over the city.
While on that hike, a group of children started to gather.
Jessica began to hand out candy she had bought at the store to the children. This opened the door for the missionary to ask if they wanted to hear a story. They enthusiastically said, "YES!" We all sat down on the side of the mountain and Jessica told the story of the lost son. In the group were small children, all the way up to some youth. The oldest being about 18. They all listened intently as the missionary translated.
As the story ended, the missionary began to ask the children questions to help them understand. As she brought the discussion to Christ, she asked them, "Who died for your sins on the cross?" In unison they all said, "The evil spirits!" What a shock! The missionary turned to us and said, "I have never heard this before." We all began to pray. Here was evidence of Satan at work in this area. They had been taught this lie! She continued to teach them until they understood and some believed! We promised to come back later in the week and tell them more stories.
Flash forward to Saturday, our last day in the country. We decided the most important thing we could do, was go back to the children. We had a national believer with us to determine the spiritual temperature of the people. As we drove out of town, we all began to pray. Our prayer was that we could find the children and that adults would come. I specifically prayed for the oldest young man that had been there before. He had listened so intently and wanted to know more.
As we turned down the dirt road we anxiously looked into the faces of each person we passed. Then in a distance we saw a group of men by the side of the road. As we got close I said, "That's him, the guy we prayed for!" We rolled down the window and he came running over. We explained we were back to tell more stories. He said they would meet us at the same spot.
We waited and prayed, wondering if they would come. A few minutes later, we saw 16 men walking toward us! We had planned for Mark to tell the story of the Good Shepherd. But the young man asked if we could tell the same story again. Little did I know that Mark's favorite story was the Lost Son and the he had been struggling with how to tell the Good Shepherd. He told the story, the missionary translated and the national believer explained more.
As they moved to story of Christ on the cross, one of the men said, "So Jesus paid for our sins, how do we get that?" Again, there seemed to be those that believed! The national partner said that they could come back and teach them more. The real test to their understanding, salvation and discipleship will take place in the storying group. 9 men said they wanted to learn more. But they said to come on Sunday. They explained that the only reason they had been on the side of the road is because the electricity had gone out 5 minutes before we arrived. As we wrapped up, the electricity came back on and it began to rain!
Before our eyes, a group of ALL MEN was birthed! The missionaries and the national partner said they had never seen an all men's group before. This is so crucial in this culture as they can lead their families to faith. We thought we were going on a simple hike, but God had bigger plans. Trust and obey!
Participating in the traditional coffee ceremony by roasting the coffee.
Grinding the coffee.
Now that is fresh coffee!
As we were debriefing, one of the students said that the greatest impact had been seeing the missionaries live life, do family and marriage. We really did get to see an up close and personal life of a missionary. As we did life with them, we also got to serve them. I was so proud of the students understanding that when we served the missionaries, we were helping to energize them to carry on after we left.
- Prayed over a missionary family that just got word the husband had leukemia.
- Helped pack and move a family from one house to another.
- Was the first team to go with new missionaries to pray over their mostly Muslim area of town during the Friday call to prayer. It was just the boost in the arm they needed to remind them they are not alone.
- Taught the kids, provided nursery and taught the adults at House Church.
- Martha cooked an amazing Mexican meal. (Pictured below shopping for the meal.)
- Played with the MK's (missionary kids) so that parents could do important work.
- Bought soccer jerseys for 4 MK boys. The national team just one a big victory and the boys asked fo jerseys. Mark heard their parents say they could not afford them. Our team asked to buy them for the boys. The boys were so excited and did not want to take them off. But more importantly, the parents were blessed.
On Wednesday, we were able to go with a national partner to story with a group of women. These women have all come out of abusive situations. They have all received training in textile and pottery so that they can support themselves and their children.
The missionaries and the national partner had gone to their shop area several times before they asked if they could have coffee and share a story. They shared the Creation to Christ story with the women and all 6 believed! Since then, they have gone regularly to train them. Each time they share another Bible story with them, ask them all to repeat it, and ask questions to make sure they understand. Then the women are challenged to share the story with someone before they return the next week. This week one woman told us she had shared with 10 family and friends. These new believers are already teaching others.
Each woman shared a Bible story they had memorized with us. One woman, I will call Betty, said to us, "I will tell the Lost Son, I was the lost son." Later she explained more to the national partner. She had been asked to marry a man, but turned him down. This man went to the Satan priest and told him he would give him his first born child if the priest would make it possible for him to marry Betty. The man and his friends then kidnapped Betty and forced her to marry him.
Shortly after her first son was born, her husband died. Until then, she knew nothing about the promise to the Satan priest. But then family and friends told her. She began to save up money to buy the needed items for the sacrifices that would need to be offered - meat, butter, etc. - when she handed over her son. He would have been forced to work in the fields of the priests and basically be a slave. She had just raised the funds when the national believer and missionaries showed up that day. Because she heard of Christ and believed in His sacrifice, she did not take her son to the Satan priest.
|Go Now Missions has been partnering in this North African country for years. We have sent more than 80 students and staff to serve as semester, summer and impact team missionaries. We have seen several of them return as career missionaries. Leading this team allowed me a unique opportunity to see 17 years of my ministry, all in one place!
In 1996, I took a team from Samford to Southeast Asia to teach ESL among an unreached people group. This was before I came to Go Now. One of the students on that team is now one of the career missionaries in North Africa. She and her husband are the missionaries we first began to partner with years ago. They are now the leaders of over 180 missionaries in several countries in the region. I have had the honor of taking her on her first international mission trip when she was a Sophomore in college to seeing her become a trainer and leader of missionaries.
The missionaries we went to serve with were BSM staff in Texas. I had the opportunity to invest and mentor them during their early years of ministry. And to see their heart for this nation grow as they led Go Now teams here. As BSM Staff, they helped us begin the partnership in this country. As they began to think and pray about missions, I had the chance to be one of their confidants and cheerleaders. What a blessing to get to be part of their work.
As we arrived at our guest house, I looked across and saw someone that looked very familiar. It was a former Go Now missionary that has returned as a career missionary in the area! I had no idea she was in this city. It was a great reunion. Later in the week, she shared with our students her journey from a seminary student looking for an internship who came to this country as a summer missionary, to being a career missionary among a very hard to reach people. What a joy to relive that journey with her.
Last year our two summer missionaries were able to share the stories of the Bible with a college student who became a follower of Christ. Because I knew the girls, we became the perfect excuse for the missionaries to reconnect with her. We met her for lunch and just minutes into the conversation, we were able to ask about her spiritual life. She has continued to study the Bible and even read it with her family. Before we left, one of the missionaries had made plans to meet with her regularly to disciple her.
I was humbled and blessed to have this flash back over 17 years of ministry. What a wonderful gift it was to be reminded why I do what I do.
Trying out some of the
As you finish reading this report, will you take a few more minutes and pray for these needs?
1. Pray for "Emma," the national partner I mentioned. She is presently meeting weekly with several storying groups training them to share the stories and gospel with family and friends. This is crucial as it is National believers training national believers to be a witnesses.
2. Pray for "Ken," one of the guards for the missionaries. He is a Muslim and finally listened to the gospel earlier this month. Pray for his salvation.
3. Pray for the group of men on the hill side. Pray for deeper understanding of grace, full commitment to Christ and that they will lead their families to Christ.
4. Pray for "Yolanda," the college student lead to the Lord by Go Now students last year. Pray for her discipleship relationship with the missionary.
5. Pray for People of Peace among Muslims in the large marketplace where the new missionary couple is concentrating.
6. Pray for protection for the missionaries and MK's as they minister on the front lines. Pray for health & unity.
7. Pray for a nationally ranked athlete that has come to faith and now has the opportunity to witness to people of influence.
8. Pray for our team - Mark, Martha, Jessica and Brenda - as we apply what we learned back home.