Giving Back – Our West African Mission
When you hear the word Africa, what do you think? Lions, Tigers, Zebras, Giraffes? Yeah, me too. But how about West Africa? For me, at first no images came to mind. Before about 2007, I had no idea what West Africa was all about, or really that there even was a West Africa. In truth, West Africa is about the size of the United States. It’s basically the bump on the west side of the continent that sticks out in the Atlantic Ocean where storms travel westward out over the Atlantic, some of which form hurricanes. Mali is a country in the middle of West Africa that is considered Sub-Saharan. It is VERY dry in the winter months, VERY hot in the Spring/early Summer, VERY humid and sometimes VERY wet during mid to late summer/Autumn (rainy season). Most of the people in the villages are farmers so they depend on rainfall to grow crops to either sell or to eat during the year. The people, especially in the villages, would be considered living in poverty by any standard imaginable in the United States. They have no electricity and no running water. Toilets are a big hole dug in the ground with wood laid over it and covered over the top with mud leaving a small, 6-inch diameter hole. Houses are “mud huts” with either a thatched roof or a tin roof. The villagers are farmers, goat, sheep or cattle herders, or they have some kind of trade such as a blacksmith, butcher, tailor, etc. There are no paved roads in the villages and when it rains, everything gets very muddy. It’s a tough life, for sure.
How it Started – What we do
A few years ago, our Pastor talked to some of the people in our church and a Global Impact Team was formed. We were taking seriously Jesus’ words about going into all the world and making Disciples. It is all the world, not just across the street and it all needs to be done simultaneously. We didn’t know where it would take us but we knew we would be going somewhere. To make a long story short, we deicded on Africa and then to West Africa. A vision trip was taken by 4 men in the church and we settled in on the Bambara speaking people of Mali. That meant many trips into the bush country of West Africa into a small village. I can’t say the name of the village here because of potential persecusion of the believers. In total, we’ve made about 25 trips into the bush with an average of about 4 people per trip. Our church has about 150 attending on Sunday mornings so, we aren’t a huge church. If you figure the cost, that is 25 x 4 x $3500 (minimum) so about $350,000 and all of it has come from private donations or people paying their own way, not from our church budget. It’s definitely a God thing.
During our stay there, our mission is simple. We build relationships that are long term relationships, we help (sometimes) with simple needs such as bandaging children who are injured from stepping or falling into an open fire (they cook with wood with open flames) or children who have splinters and such in their feet (most don’t wear shoes of any kind). We have also helped in the past with major medical conditions such as bone diseases and cancers as well as leprosy. We try to limit our financial help because, of course, we can’t help EVERYONE and we don’t want them to become dependent on us. But there are special needs that do arise and we definitely try to help when we can. In 2008, we participated with a food relief drive where we went into some of the villages and distributed grain. The grain they eat and that we distributed is millet and is a grain that we use here as bird food, although it is becoming more and more popular for people to eat here.
There is an old saying – People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Obviously, we have to gain their trust before we present the gospel to them. However, over our many trips there, we have seen many people come to faith in Jesus Christ. We’ve had as many as 25 people come to Christ on some trips and on other trips, we have no professions of faith. BUT, each trip is different. The main focus is to equip the new believers in the villages so that they can continue the work after we are gone. We can’t reach the entire continent of Africa, but as the gospel spreads, they can reach their own people that we don’t have time to get to. The task is too large so they have to be equipped to do it themselves. Most people in the villages cannot read. It is an oral culture and the stories have to be told over and over again so they can memorize them to be able to teach them to other people. Some can read so we do leave Bibles in their language for the ones who can so they can teach others. The believers in our village are still currently meeting together for church and they have had other professions of faith and the church we have planted there is growing. It never fails that while we are there, people are healed of various ailments and people routinely come to us to pray for them, The village chief, a very old man, and the Mayor of the village said they had had more rain since we started coming into the village than they’ve had since they were small boys. It is amazing to see how God is working in these villages in the bush of West Africa.
What They Believe
If you ask the average villager in West Africa what they believe as far as religion, they will tell you they are a Muslim. However, most of them wrap the Islamic faith around African Traditionalism. So, they have a mosque in nearly every village. They pray to Mecca sometimes, and they listen to what the Imam (the local religioius leader) in each village has to say concerning religion. The most devout of Africans also participate in Ramadan, unless it is rainy season and they are working in the fields or are traveling and then they are exempt. They believe Ishmael was the child of the promise because that is what they’ve been told and since most can’t read, they follow the teachings of the Imam. Although they do these things, they still believe evil spirits can be warded off by trips to the local witch doctor and by blessing and placing amulets and fetishes around the waists and wrists of small babies and children. They also sacrifice chickens and other small animals to different gods. It is a hard nut to crack, especially with the leadership in the villages, because they are all about traditions and doing things the way their ancestors did. Many of them feel if they leave their roots and do things differently, they will be dishonoring to their ancestors and there is also a very real threat of physical persecution at the hands of devout Islamists if they convert to Christianity.
What is the Cost?
It typically costs about $3,000 for a plane ticket and then there are “in-country” expenses totalling about $500 a person including but not limited to – food, bottled water (filtered water), transportation to and from the bush, traslators, etc. There are also other expenses such as passports, immmunizations, malaria medication, etc. In the past, I would also have to take off time from work and burn vacation time or time off without pay in order to go. At this time, being self employed, that isn’t an actual cost but time away from the family is. So, as you can tell, there are many financial costs that have to be taken care of. In the past, we’ve traditionally paid for our “in-country” costs but we do our best to raise the money for our plane tickets. On this trip, we are planning to go in January 2014 and spend 12 days in the bush spreading the gospel and encouraging the believers. My son, Carson (16 yrs old now), is also planning to go with me. His first trip with me was October 2008 when he was 11 years old. He went again with me in January 2012 when he was 14 years old. He had the opportunity to meet up with some of his friends he met in 2008. Now, he feels led to go back with me again. One of the hardest groups to reach are the late teenagers so this will likely be an incredible opportunity to help young men and women come to faith in Christ. In order to do that, we need to raise $6,000 FAST so we can purchase plane tickets and get our plans together.
How you can Help!!
I am asking for donations at this time in order to purchase two plane tickets for our West Africa trip in January. No amount is too small. I will also be doing fund raisers at out church and in the community in order to raise money for our trip. We haven’t been to our village in about 2 years so we don’t know what condition our mosquito tents, sleeping bags, water filtration system or any of that is in. We do know we need to repair the mud hut we had constructed to stay in while we are there. We have never gone this long without making a trip into the bush but have had to because of the military coup in 2011 and the threat of terrorism in the North along with the way things have worked out since we were there last. We have no idea what we will have to do while we are there to get things back in order since our last visit. I am sure it will be a fantasic trip though. I’m already getting excited about going and seeing old friends and spreading the gospel again. You can read more about it at http://beulahbaptist.com/ministries/westafrica/
If you would like to donate to our ministry in West Africa, you can do so by going to paypal and entering in our paypal email address as firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure you let me know you’ve done that so I can make sure it hits the account properly. You can also send a check and include a note that it is for the West Africa trip for Jay and Carson to:Beulah Baptist Church 9487 Garners Ferry Road
Hopkins, SC 29061
Phone: (803) 776-2188
Please help us raise the money to get back to West Africa. If you want to see more pictures, you can see them in a photo album on my facebook page at www.facebook.com/jay.floyd1
Thanks for helping. The gospel of Jesus Christ depends on people who support ministries as well as those who are capable and willing to go. We are willing to go. Are you willing to give? Any fool can count the number of seeds in one apple, but only God can count the number of apples in one seed. Plant your seeds for eternity and of course, pray for us because the fields are indeed white for the harvest in West Africa.
If you want to know more, Contact Me. I’d love to tell you how you can participate by going with us on a trip if you’d like sometime.
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