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Category Archives: North Africa

Deserts of Africa – November 2016

img_3135“And so the day we have heard, we have not ceased to pray from you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual
widsom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Colossians 1:9-10.

These words of Paul’s to the church at Colossae, are the same prayer that we have uttered as a church for the believers among our B People.  Since 2012, we have begun to see many ladies, particularly in one village, lay hold to the claims of Christ and wanting to turn from trusting after a false god and place their faith in the one, true God.

It is with great joy, that I came away from this recent trip to the Deserts with encouragement in hearing of many who are walking in the truth, after having first professed faith.

On our third day of being in the deserts sowing many new seeds of the gospel among the B People, we were able to return back to this particular village that our teams have ministered in on previous trips.  We ate in the home of Ms. A, the first known believer among the B People in North Africa.  She was very hospitable in opening up her home for lunch.

It was in a conversation, though, that our global partner had with her that was most encouraging, as she had been listening to the MP3 playerimg_3196 with the story sets from the Old Testament.  She made note that she can tell of others who have heard the message and are seeking to believe and walk in obedience.

As you can imagine, their growth is slow, but nevertheless progressing.  It’s very hard in thier culture, as a woman, especially, to ‘go public’ with their faith for fear of divorce and even worse being completely removed from any community, as these villages are isolated.

Pray that these ladies would continue to walk boldly in their faith, that it might bear fruit in due season.  Pray for increased knowledge of God in their lives, and consistency in discipleship among our partners.  Pray for the church to be established among both B men and women for the glory of Christ.

Written by Ryan Martin

 

Deserts of Africa: Day 5 – November 2016

On the fifth day, the men on the trip went with Joshua on a trip through the city and the women prepared a traditional meal with one of Kayla’simg_3326

friends. Joshua was planning for us to meet with a couple individuals he has built relationships with. After about a thirty minute drive, we arrived at our destination. Joshua called the man we were going to meet with, but he said he was not home. After trying to find a couple others to meet with, due to the time constriction, we decided to head back for lunch.

Joshua showed us his office space, and the many places he frequents. As we drove through the city certain men would wave to Joshua, all men that he has built a relationship with. It was encouraging to drive through the city and see the relationships Joshua had built over the last five years.

For lunch, Mr J. joined us and we ate a traditional meal. It was encouraging to hear stories of ministry over the last year from both Joshua and Mr. J. I was reminded of Paul’s words to the church at Philippi as we conversed.

” I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 1:3-6

The partnership with Joshua, Kayla, and Mr. J is truly a partnership for the advancement of the gospel. As we departed the city and boarded our plane home that day, I was reminded that it is God who will bring the work among the B people to completion.

Written by Michael Abraham

 

Deserts of Africa: Day 4 – November 2016

img_3152We are making our way back to the city from the desert today. Our time in the desert was filled with so many emotions. Our hearts are burdened for the people there. The imagery from the mountains, rocks, night sky, homes, livestock and people reminded us of God’s unfailing faithfulness to His people. The promises we have through the Father offer hope and life.

On our journey back to the city we felt the protection from the Lord. Going through the check points were uneventful (for the most part) and those that needed much needed rest were able to sleep somewhat. It was also a blessing the van never had to pull over for sickly situations!! The Lord placed people within our path that offered protection for this entire trip and the trip back to the city was no exception! A passage I read continually while away was Psalm 115. The passage begins with “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name goes all the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness.” Ps. 115:1 Everywhere we went, I was reminded of God’s unfailing love for His people. We also saw how people have ears but are unable to hear, hands but are unable to feel, and hearts that have not yet been softened. My prayer is that the seeds of truth that were laid will grow for the glory of our God.

Once we arrived to the city a shower was the first thing on our minds! We were so thankful for running water, a warm shower, trash cans, soap to wash our hands and a time of rest. Even though we were hungry, “lunch” was not an easy task! The Lord provided a restaurant that was not even ‘open’ for us to eat. A sweet man who worked in a bakery said they had a sister restaurant where he could offer us a couple of sandwiches, salads and a place to sit inside even though they were not open. We were so thankful to sit in chairs, in air condition, at a table, with cold water. It was comical to see the waiter pour a glass of water only to have it empty by the time he made his way around the table. Needless to say he left the water at the table for us.

The setting of the meal was restful and calming. We found joy in sitting in chairs, not swatting flies from our food and visiting about our time in the desert. The Lord provided us rest before we head out tomorrow to visit with Joshua and Kayla. Our bodies are weary, tired and hurting. As we head back to the hotel, most everyone goes down for a rest. We were so thankful to have dinner at the hotel that evening. One of our team members was not able to join us because of sickness. We were all beginning to feel the effects of some food we had eaten in the desert and hoping it passed soon. I personally was thankful for rice! I have an autoimmune issue that causes problems when I eat gluten. The Lord protected my body from a gluten reaction this trip and provided nutrition for my body…so thankful!

As the evening approached we were thankful for a bed to sleep in. Some of us even enjoyed another shower that evening! The things we see asimg_1151 necessities or normal were made valuable. The culture of the B People we embraced for three days’ was very different than ours, but they are just like us at the same time. They are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of the creator and loved just as much. They are in need of a savior just like us and when they hear about the goodness of God they want to know more. That night I prayed for Mr. R and Mr. M that both of these men would know the Father. I praised the Lord for the work He has done with in this region through Mr. J. I prayed that He would sustain Mr. J and bless the work for the kingdom.  I did not understand how instrumental Mr. R and Mr. J were to the work among the people until now. I was also brought to tears at how the Lord is using Mr. R who does not know the Father. “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name goes all the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness.” PS 115:1

Please continue to pray with us that the Spirit moves in a big way among these people. Please continue to pray for Mr. R and Mr. M specifically that they will know the Father. Please praise the Father for the work He has begun and will finish among these people.

Written by Casey Rainer

 

Deserts of Africa: Day 3 – November 2016

thumb_img_3054_1024Today we visited what I call ‘the magical village’. God is moving in this place. We were able to visit one of the known believers (Ms. A) that professed her faith in Jesus a few years ago. She is still following Christ, and she says she only prays to Him. Her husband is not a believer, so I pray that Christ would move in his heart and bring him to faith. This believer lives across the street (or dirt road rather) from two women that Hanna and I were able to share the gospel with. These two women were so ready and eager to hear the message of Christ. They prayed to commit their lives’ to Jesus. We rejoiced and prayed with them, but felt a sense of sadness when we had to leave that day. We encouraged them to meet with the other believers across the street, so that they could grow in discipleship. This could be difficult, though, if their husbands or unbelieving neighbors found out. Pray that these woman would be bold and crave fellowship.

The men on our team were also able to share with men around that same village that day.thumb_img_3299_1024 We stayed in this one village for at least four hours. We at lunch in Ms. A’s home. She cooked us a traditional B people meal which consisted of tomatoes, cucumbers, foul, and of course… tea. We ate this meal with bread while we were seated on the floor. This is how we ate every meal in the desert. The children tried to make their way into the room that we were eating our meal in, but the woman shoed them out. The children in this village were adorable. They are were always smiling and posing for pictures. It warmed my heart to see them laugh and play together. The B people have an interesting way of life that they are so content with. I pray that one day they will be content with Jesus Christ and Him alone.

Written by Lindsey Bertrand

 

Deserts of Africa: Day 2 – November 2016

img_3190Today we traveled to four different villages. At each village, the women on our team would find the other women in the village and sit and drink tea with them while the men on the team would look for any men in the village. At each village, we were able to share the good news of Christ with at least one person. Praise God! The people we met had never heard of Jesus. I cannot fathom what it would be like to grow up without at least hearing His name. In one village, a couple of team members were able to share the story of the woman at the well. When the lady who was listening heard about the living water Jesus offered, she was amazed! She asked how she could receive such living water. We tried to explain it to her, but there was so much to share about who Jesus is and we had such a short time. I left burdened for those who have never heard the Good News before and the immensity of the challenge to reach them.

At the end of the day, we settled in a little valley and spent the night under the stars. There were some trees and bushes near by that appeared more green than any we had seen before. We asked why this was and were told it was because it had rained last week. I was struck with how quick a little bit of rain can cause growth. Pray that the hearts of those who heard the gospel today would come to life just like the trees who received the little bit of water. Pray for believers to come to these same villages and share more of the Good News.

Written by Samantha Burgess

 

Deserts of Africa: Day 1 – November 2016

The long awaited trip was finally here. No more team meetings, Skype calls, support letters, or last minute preparations; it was go time. Five of desert1our seven team members boarded our first flight from Northwest Arkansas, praying often over the many hours that awaited. God was gracious during the travel time, ridding anxieties, preparing hearts, and allotting some much needed sleep. Several flights later, our team stopped in Dubai to join together with the remaining two members…our team was finally united!

After five flights and over 30 hours of travel, the long awaited arrival to Africa finally happened, only to find ourselves with an eight hour journey through the desert. We stopped briefly for lunch at the first village encountered, drank our first cup of hot sweet tea (and I mean SWEET), and attempted to chat with the women, realizing the reality of language barriers. This was the first moment we realized the challenge that was ahead of us- the challenge that Christians face with all unreached people.

After somewhat of a discouraging attempt at conversation, we were back in the van. To paint a picture, imagine a local man driving seven Americans squeezed together side by side in a Land Cruiser, going 70 mph in the middle of nowhere and flying down sand dunes. It was during these eight hours of desert driving, we found ourselves dwelling upon stories in the Bible that took place in this desert. It was quite surreal and truly brought God’s word to life. We beheld the beauty of what seemed like the entire desert and desert2were thankful. Although head bumps and nausea occurred, we arrived safety to the next village. Here we joined with several long-term missionaries who had come to work with us in the desert. It was here where we were first welcomed with a traditional meal and a place to sleep by a local family. With full bellies, we gave thanks to the Father for the generous hospitality we received and asked that these sweet people would come to know Him. And with that, we worshiped God in song, proclaiming the truth of who He is. We continue to pray now that God will bring each person we encountered to follow Him faithfully through Jesus.

It was here that God gave us rest for our bodies and for our souls. Thank God that His mercies are new each morning and He so faithfully provides all we need. Pray that the B people see His faithfulness and understand their need for a Savior who loves them more than they can fathom!

Written by Hannah Abraham

 

Deserts of Africa – October 2015

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After several hours of winding and weaving through the desert on the main highway, our driver abruptly turned off the road. As we continued down this path, the minutes ticked away, the bumps grew, and the mountains thickened. The “flattened” dirt was set out to resemble a rough path of some sort, and mile after mile, the deeper in we got. There was not another car in sight. Mountains of rock and sand as endless as the sea were all consuming to the eyes. Every once in a while, a tree would pop out in plain sight and you wonder how such life could ever sustain here in this endlessly dry wilderness. There were no snakes or spiders even, as they couldn’t survive in this land. It was dry and desolate.

Just when you think you’re so far from any possible civilization, that’s when our driver points up ahead and suddenly you see it – a few cube-like boxes of concrete walls and little brown faces that nearly blend into the landscape. The dogs are barking and the faces are moving closer at remarkable speed, and the anticipation builds. As we approached this village where we were to sleep for the night, my stomach began to twist into knots.

How in the world is it possible for these people to survive here? How is it that these beautiful women serve us all through the night and even sleep right beside us? How is it that they live here? How is it that they cook and clean, guard the sheep, marry, and have babies? How is this their home, the only existence they have ever known?

And how is it that when we tell them a miraculous story of Jesus’ love for them, they are quick to respond with, “Who’s that?”

IMG_0842I’ve heard about and studied and prayed for unreached people groups (or UPGs) for several years now, but I never could have imagined what it would be like to meet someone from one of these groups. To reach out and grip her hands, drink her tea, kid her babies and exchange deep grins in the middle of this wilderness land laced with the glory of this Father who loves her, sees her and desires to be reconciled to her right here in this place just the same as He loves you or me.

“And thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, ‘Those who have never been told of Him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.’” (Romans 15:20-21)

These men and women and their kids had never heard about this “Isa al-Masih,” this Messiah. Many of the B-people practice a “folk Islam” as they are often taught by stories and rules passed down from one generation to the next. Only certain parts stick and others seem to dissolve. This makes for a very broken understanding of who God is and what they are created for.

As we pulled into that village, there was a woman, cloaked in red and gold, waving us to a place to park the vehicle. She yelled things at our driver in a jibberish unfamiliar to us, and it seemed clear she was welcoming us to stay. This was becoming a norm—to pull into a village and look for a person of peace. If they received us, we stayed, and if not, we kept going. As the sun lowered behind the mountains, it began to settle in that we are about to sleep here, under the stars. I have never felt quite so small.

We talked, drank tea, ate good food and told stories inside the wall of this woman’s home late into the night, all gathered around the fire. This woman (who we will call ‘Joy’) sat and listened to us the whole night. Even when she couldn’t understand, she just sat there, her eyes following the speaker and soaking it all in. As the other women and kids came and went about their evening, she didn’t move. Every now and then I’d glance up and catch her eye, she’d grin and we would grab hands. She was a woman of peace; there was no doubt about it.

Later in the night, we got to share God’s story of redemption with her. She asked many questions and took great interest in the topic. Her biggest question that night was, “ How could my old heart possibly become a new heart?”

The next morning, the ladies from our team took Joy for a walk away from the village. We hiked through the sandy rock and down a hill where no one in theIMG_0829 village could find us. We found some shade beneath an Acacia tree and sat on some rocks in a circle. Soon our translator found us and we proceeded to share about how that old heart becomes new. For hours, we talked and she asked questions and contemplated. We couldn’t understand everything going on towards the end, as the discussion was quickening and intensifying.

Suddenly, our translator stands up and declares, “We have a new sister in the faith—let us rejoice!” Let us rejoice indeed! Our new sister Joy had accepted the Truth and placed her faith in God’s ability to remove her heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh! We gathered tight around her, gripping her tight and praying. We held hands all the way back.

Y’all, there is no greater joy then witnessing a woman hearing the name of Christ for the very first time and responding in obedience to that call. Miss Joy is one of eight believers on this side of the desert, among a people group of two million. Next week, she will be getting married and moving to another village. Join us in praying and believing for our Father to strengthen her faith and for the Spirit to teach her from the Word, and that as she goes, she will make disciples.

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches, for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people I formed for myself that they might declare my praise!! You are my witnesses, declares the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. I am the Lord and besides me there is no Savior”. – Isaiah 43

Written by Courtney Osborn