Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Mandouri Flood Relief

This past weekend, Matt and I loaded up two Landcruisers full of camping gear and Kabiye Christians (13 of them!) and made the 5 hour trek north to the town of Mandouri. The entire Savanes Region was devastated by widespread flooding after receiving a record amount of rainfall this past rainy season. This led to the destruction of a huge amount of the season's crops, and a subsequent food shortage that has crippled many of the people in this region in their ability to feed themselves until the next harvest. As usual, the very poor and vulnerable are the hardest hit. A widow who was given food. Widows can be very vulnerable in this society.

Mandouri is a city of the Gourma people, a group that we surveyed this past summer with our Harding University interns to see if the area is ready for missionaries. Matt has developed a friendship with a local pastor named Pascal, and when Pascal informed Matt about the situation, he began asking God how we might all be able to help. The answer came mainly in the form of a donation from Healing Hands International, who gave $6,000 towards the purchase of corn and rice. When put together with about $1,000 given by Harding University students and others, this past Monday we were able to distribute 220 sacs of corn and rice (keep in mind that the sacs of corn weigh over 200 pounds and the rice sacs over 100 pounds - this is ALOT of food!)Kpaatcha, and elder in the N'Djei church, taking notes of the event to share with his church family

Part of the vision that Matt had for this effort was to include Kabiye Christians in the endeavor, to broaden their view of the Kingdom of God and to be an encouragement to the Gourma Christians that were helped. The Kabiye churches banded together and gave about 2 full sacs of corn plus about 25 yams, a truly rich gift! We were reminded of the poor lady who, in spite of giving only 2 small coins, gave much more than the rich people who gave to show off their wealth. Praise God that He has instilled in our Kabiye brothers and sisters a passion to give generously! Kabiye Christians being interviewed by the Togolese National Press

Below is a slide show of pictures from the distribution. The spiritual implications of this day are still sinking in and will surely resonate for a long time in our hearts, the hearts of the Kabiye Christians and especially the hearts of those who were fed in Jesus' name. Our prayer is that God would use this event to expand His Kingdom here in Togo and beyond. Praise God for His mercy, compassion and love for all of His people! Matt, me, Pascal, the Prefet and the Kabiye Christians during the distribution

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Kabiye Teaching Kabiye

One of the benchmarks for a successful church planting movement is when native Christians express a desire to begin evangelism in villages near them. This has happened in several villages where our team was the original church planters, and yesterday I accompanied Matt to a teaching session led by Christians from the villages of Sande Te and Ajadaa. Here is the group (that is Matt sitting in the middle of the frame).
The village is called Kpangkulum, and it is a very remote village that is in the same district as Sande Te and Ajadaa. The session was led by these two men, Tchalo, from Sande Te, and Eyana, from Ajadaa. They are emerging young leaders who have a good grasp of what the Bible teaches about salvation through Jesus. Pray for these young men! One day they will be wise elders in their villages and in their churches, but in this season of their lives they are blessed with an energy and enthusiasm for spreading God's word! Matt has been involved in the process only in terms of helping out with transportation and giving some guidance when needed. For the most part, these brave young men are acting on their own faith and trust in the Lord.Teaching in Kpangkulum is at the halfway point. During this last visit, they talked with the people about Jesus' birth and baptism. There were many good questions asked, such as, "Why did Jesus have to be baptized?" and, "Why did John the Baptist have to come before Jesus?" Tchalo, Eyana and the others handled these questions very well and showed alot of maturity.

One of the biggest obstacles to any evangelism among the Kabiye is the stronghold that Satan holds over them through their traditional religion. We met just outside the chief's compound in Kpangkulum, and inside we found these two items:The first item is a fetish tree that has a prominent place in the middle of the compound. Notice the small concrete bowl that is built into the ground. This bowl receives sacrifices to spirits or ancestors.

The second item Matt and I are not totally sure about, but we think it's a fertility idol. Notice how the a hands of the wooden carved man are resting in the genital area. Holy Father, we pray that you would bring the people of Kpangkulum out of the darkness of their traditional religion and into the Light. Thank you for stirring passion for the lost in the hearts of the young men of Sande Te and Ajadaa, and I ask that you would give them strength, courage and absolute faith in Your power to change lives. We want Christ to be Lord in the lives of all Kabiye people! May it be so...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Kennell's Are Here!

Yesterday we welcomed Mark, Nicole, Madeline and Michal Kennell as a part of our team here in Kara among the Kabiye. (The only pic I could find of their family was this one with Mark Berryman, a good friend to our team. Mark Kennell is on the left.) Brett drove down to Accra with Matt to pick them up on Sunday, and then after a day in Accra for rest and shopping, we traveled back to Kara.

The Kennell's were original members of the Kabiye team that arrived here back in 2000, but they left after 2 1/2 years. Making a return after a 5 year absence takes alot of faith and courage, and we are excited to share in this new journey with them as teammates. God is going to do great things through them!

Please pray for the Kennells over the next several months as they adjust to life here. They will be returning to the States in May to wrap up fundraising and logistics, and then moving back for good sometime in the fall. We are so thankful that God is bringing more people to this team to work for the salvation of the Kabiye people!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

December Newsletter

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