West Africa Trip Update
Carson and I are back from our trip to Mali, West Africa this past couple of weeks. Although we were a bit wary of going where we were, we felt relatively safe. Mali is in the Top 10 Countries for Christian Persecution. We have to be very careful while we are there and follow the advice of our translators and hosts perfectly and I won’t say much about where we go and what we do on here. I do not want to endanger anyone but at the same time, I want to tell you about our trip and let you know what happened while we were there.
As I said, we never felt endangered while we were there and the people there were as friendly as ever. We do know that terrorism is still very much alive and well in this part of the world. We also know there are supposedly sleeper cells in downtown Bamako but that the majority of the unrest/terrorism is confined to the North. The terrorists were trying to get to Bamako but were held off in the town of Mopti by the Malian Army and French Army before they reached the capital city. There is still violence and a lot of unrest, especially in the North as this New York Times Article talks about. I said all that to say this. We know we were not perfectly safe doing what we were doing, but we kept a low profile and didn’t draw attention to ourselves. We followed the advice of the State Department and our friends in the Country.
So we arrived in the Country and spent the night in the Capital City of Bamako. Then, we went out to the bush to meet with the villagers. The purpose of the trip was to help encourage the believers in the village where we have made 26 trips and to also teach the gospel and Bible Stories. Every time we go, I get more encouragement than they do. But, on this trip, it had been 2 years since we’ve gone since the Miliary Coup d’Etat in March of 2012.
West Africa Trip Update – Discouragement
When we got to the village, we found out that the believers had not been meeting together on a regular basis. Some of them had gone to the gold mines to search for gold. Some of the believers were in the village and we did get to spend a lot of time with them. It took awhile for us to figure out what was going on with the believers. Finally we were able to get to the bottom of some of the issues they had been having. Food is scarce because of the rainfall they experienced and there is still alienation of believers from the other villagers. There are two mosques in our village and they do the calls to prayer on a loud speaker which is very surreal cutting through the animal noises. The people we tell the Bible Stories and teach the Gospel to say things like “I know what you are telling me is truth but I’m not ready to follow the Jesus Road yet. If I did, I would be shunned from my family”. We have several of the children that hang around us that have told us they want to be believers in Jesus but their parents have told them they would beat them if they did. Some of them have even told their children to stay away from us. In the villages, they have taken African Traditionalism and wrapped it in Islam so there is a mixture of what they believe. They put festishes on trees and around the children’s waists and wrists to ward off evil spirits and then, sometimes, they pray the Islam prayers in Arabic that they do not even understand. It’s a hard community with people working hard in the fields and having a community of pride and honor. They do not want to do anything that brings shame on them or their family. We had one man tell us that he wouldn’t care if his children were believers in America or Bamako, but in the village, it would bring shame on him and his family.
West Africa Trip Update – Encouragement
After several days of teaching the believers in the village and encouraging them and going to some of the surrounding villages and telling stories and making our greetings, we felt as though we were not making any headway into the people’s hearts. Then, on the last night, our former Pastor, Brad Bessent, told a story and then preached a bit because, in his words, this may be his last trip to Mali into our village. So, the man who said his son could not be a believer came with his wife and sat in and listened. After we finished the teaching time that night, the young boy’s parents came up to us and gave permission for their son to be a believer and said they also wanted to know more. You can see Brad’s website at www.churchunleashedglobal.com. He is now working to help churches and other belivers do what we’ve done with reaching an unreached people group somewhere in the world. He can hook you up on a mission trip if you want to go.
West Africa Trip Update – Just Go Spread the Gospel
I’ll end by saying that this was my sixth trip to Mali over the last 6 years. I want badly to go back. I was very concerned on my first trip that I wasn’t qualified or able to share the Gospel with these people. But, I realized when I got there, that these people don’t know anything. They can’t read or write. As the Bible says
New Living Translation (NLT)
14 But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? 15 And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”
If you want to know more or potentially go with us in the future, please Contact Me. I would love to talk to you about what we are doing and share with you how you can help. If you can’t go, but would like to help, you can give. Contact Me and I will tell you how. We are still paying off a credit card we put the plane tickets on for this trip so anything you can do will be a big help. Pray about going, but if you can’t, pray about giving.