Tag Archives: #africanmissions

May Believers Multiply Like Fireflies

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35

On Monday evening, I noticed the first fireflies of the season. Only two little lights were discernible across the newly planted cornfield next to my home. When I walked the corn rows on Tuesday evening, perhaps twenty or so lightning bugs flickered across the landscape. By Wednesday evening, the countryside was blanketed with tiny orbs of light.

As we’re preparing for our sixth trip to Africa, I can’t help but compare the few Christians working the fields there to the tiny fireflies. First, there were only two missionaries which had one convert. Then there were two, to be followed by a little house-church. The congregation divided and the gospel spread to the next village.

The fields in Niger are white, and the workers are few, but God will reap a harvest.

I dream and pray for the day the fields of Africa glow with the light of Jesus shining throughout the land, and Africa will no longer be known as the Dark Continent.

Our African mission team is still forming. Please pray those who are called will be obedient. Also, ask God to prepare us for the task ahead, and to soften the hearts of those we meet. And finally, ask God to help us discover affordable airline tickets with good flight connections. Nashville-Detroit-Paris-Niamey is my preferred flight route.

We’ll travel in later summer to one of the poorest countries in the world.  We can never provide enough food to feed the hungry, but I take comfort in knowing we can share the “Bread of Life” with everyone we meet.

Please let me know if you’d like to stay up-to-date with our mission activities and I can add you to our private Facebook page. Thank you for your payers. Prayers pave the way for us and give me the courage to travel to Africa.  It’s difficult to describe the peace that washes over me as people begin praying for our mission activities. It’s also something I miss when we return home.

Thank you for your encouragement and your prayers.

 

From Africa to the Omni

Last week I attended the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference hosted at the elegant Omni Hotel in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. https://www.omnihotels.com/hotels/nashville/property-details/gallery

Photo courtesy of Chris Mayhew

A week early, I’d stood in the schoolyard of an African village and measured the arms of women, infants, and children for malnutrition to verify the eligibility to receive a vitamin supplement. As I measured, I prayed for the child’s health, while mothers probably prayed her son or daughter would qualify for the vitamin supplement. Can you imagine wanting your child to be considered malnourished?

The culture shock of returning home from Africa is always a challenge, but my head spun as I sat in the five star hotel banquet room with a filet mignon on my plate and remembered one child in particular who was limp when I measured his arm. Most of the women and children we met were healthy, but I can’t forget the few who were not. Another team will visit in September. I pray they will find healthier children.

Photo courtesy of Scott Hudson.

We’ll never have enough food to distribute, nor enough medicine to heal the sick in Africa. But we can share the living water, the bread of life, with everyone and give them the hope of eternal life in heaven. That’s why I go to Africa and I have to focus on that mission or I’ll become discouraged.

On my drive home Friday evening from the Omni, I took the wrong exit off the parkway and ended up in a neighborhood that made me uncomfortable. A group of teens stood under a streetlight and yelled at me as I passed. It didn’t take long for me to turn around and return to the parkway. A week earlier, I’d walked through an African village, surrounded by Muslims, and I felt completely at ease.  But here, at home, fear clutched my heart. What if, I had treated the young men who yelled at my car the same way I treat the people in Africa. What if, I’d rolled down my window and said, “I’m a Christian, and I’d like to tell you about Jesus.”  I pray for the day I’ll be a bold witness wherever God leads me. The lost are all around us. I pray that all Christians will rise up and share the gospel. “So that we may boldly say, ‘The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.’” Hebrews 13:6

Our African Mission Trip Schedule

africa_team_2016It’s hard to believe the African mission trip we penciled on the calendar in March 2014 is days away. This is a picture of everyone on our team except Melanie. My bags are packed, weighed, and stored. Each team member is allowed to check in two 50 lbs. pieces of luggage and carry on the plane one 16 lb. bag.  Any extra luggage space is used to deliver supplies to the missionary families living in Niger. Food takes up the most weight, but it’s a necessity. We’ll be camping for five of the eight nights so I packed an air mattress and folding chair. Bible school supplies also take up space, but we’ve learned that it’s fun to visit an African market to buy cookies and snacks for the children in Africa. market

A trip like this isn’t inexpensive but our church family and community are supportive. We hosted a fish fry fundraiser last week to help pay for our supplies and thanks to my Sunday School class providing deserts and another church member donating ten lbs. of white beans, we cleared over $3,500. The most money we’ve ever raised at a fundraiser is $1800.  I feel this is another affirmation from God that we are to go and not worry.

In case you’re wondering how we’ll spend our time, see below our schedule.

Day 1 and 2: Leave for Atlanta Noon. Flight departs Atlanta 10:00 pm and
arrive 23 hours later.

Day 3: Morning – Breakfast and orientation. Afternoon – Souvenirs & Market Shopping

Day 4: Morning – Pack for village. Afternoon. Travel to village A and set up camp.

camping2Day 5: Morning – Attend Church Service. Afternoon. Evangelism training with adults &
Children’s Day Camp.

Day 6: Morning: Men farming with believers. Women Children’s Day Camp. Afternoon: Return to Niamey.

 

Day 7: Depart 6:00 am for Village B. 10:00 – 4:00 Women/Children’schurch
Malnutrition Clinic. Return to mission compound.

bible_schoolDay 8: Travel to Village C. Evangelism training all day. Show the Jesus film Camp.

 

Day 9: Evangelism in villages(s) 10:00 am travel to Village D. 2:00 Children’s Day
Camp. 5:00 Evangelism Training. Camp.

parachuteDay 10: Children’s Day Camp. Overnight in Village D.

Day 11: Women/Children’s Malnutrition Clinic. Morning. Afternoon depart for Mission
House, Pack and catch midnight flight to USA.

Day 12: Arrive home.

Please keep our team in your prayers. Pray that we will remain healthy, safe, and there will be a sense of unity and love among us as we are tired, hot and dirty. Pray that God will prepare the way. Pray that God will soften the hearts and minds of those who hear the name of Jesus and that His sheep will hear His voice. Pray for a bountiful harvest. We covet your prayers. And so I invite you to travel with us. Please cover us with your prayers and be one of the most important parts of our mission team – a prayer warrior. Thank you.

A Hard Row to Hoe

This summer has been unusual in that it’s rained almost every day in June and July. One afternoon in June, it poured 4 inches in less than an hour, which led to flash flooding and part of our road being swept away.  A new bridge is still under construction. As a result of the excessive rain, I’ve not been unable to weed the garden and I’ve lost the battle.  It reminded me of a time in my childhood when the weeds almost overtook our tobacco crop because of wet weather. Losing the cash crop to weeds was not an option. We called this task, “chopping out tobacco.”AdobeStock_99823358_WM

I remember those long, never-ending rows, filled with thick grass, almost choking the plants. Mama and Daddy both had full-time jobs, plus garden and farm work, so chopping out tobacco usually fell to me and my three siblings.  But on this occasion, the weeds were so fierce it took all of us. Daddy sang as he worked. If one of us got to the end of our row fist, we’d help the next person until everyone finished together and started a new row together.

Daddy would say, “Just keep your head down, don’t give up, and before you know it, you’ll be at the end of your hard row to hoe.” And he was right. There are seasons in life when we all have a “hard row to hoe.” I’ve learned that this is the best time pray. One favorite passage in the Bible comes from Paul, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9.

Lately, I feel as though I’ve had a hard row to hoe. I’ve suffered a minor health issue, signed a contract to write ten devotions with a deadline, had over three-hundred children registered in our summer reading program, and I’m planning a mission trip in a few weeks. With the latest coup in Istanbul, terror attacks in France and Germany, I’ve lost more than one night’s sleep. For a brief instant, I considered cancelling my trip to Africa, but as I prayed about whether to stay or go, a song from my childhood Bible School days played in my head, “Onward Christian Soldiers.” I whined to God. But I don’t want to be a soldier.

Then I remembered Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane. “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done. And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.” Luke 22:42-43. What if Jesus had said, “No” to what God asked of him? None of us would have hope. Surely I can live in difficult  conditions for a week. After all, He suffered and died on the cross to redeem me.

Please keep our missionary families, the national believers and my Africa team in your prayers. We will be travelling to a remote area, camping where temperatures might reach 120 degrees during the day with a low of 90 at night. We’ll be teaching a Bible School for children. These same children might someday be asked to join the terrorists. I believe the best weapon against terrorism is the love of Jesus. We’ll also be training national believers how to evangelize. I feel strongly that the window is closing and someday in the near future, we will not be able to travel to this remote area. But if we teach the national believers how to become fishers of men, then God’s kingdom will continue to grow without the American missionaries’ support. Africa_a Please pray that they will not grow weary. Pray for the missionary families in Niger and the national believers. They are the ones who truly have a hard row to hoe. The national believers are often persecuted, and rejected by their family and friends. Many of the Songhai who we will be seeking have never heard the name of Jesus. Thank God for the missionaries who have left family, friends and the comfort of an easy life to share the ‘Good News.’  Pray that they do not grow weary. We are simply going to support their efforts. I know in due season, God will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Thank you for your prayers and support. #africanmissions

Do You Love Our Muslim Neighbors?

A friend posted a picture of himself holding a sign that said, “I  love my Muslim neighbors.” It surprised me, but I’m grateful for his bold witness because it inspired me to write this post. I usually avoid controversial topics, but Christians must take a stand and demonstrate love. God commands us to love our neighbors, and our enemies. (See Matthew 5:44-48).  If I didn’t love Muslims, would I travel to Niger, a country that is 99.9% Muslim, camp in primitive conditions, endure the Sarah sun, when I could be enjoying a beach vacation?

Some of the news stories that unsettle me the most involve politicians, their rants, their actions, and promises. I understand the desire to protect Americans, but the sad truth is, there is no safe place.  If I ask a bully to protect me, who will protect me from the bully?

I’m not naïve. I understand there are Muslims who would like to convert, enslave, or kill Christians. Just read, Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali or In the Land of Blue Burqas by Kate McCord. The Muslims I’ve met in Niger, Africa are gentle, gracious, welcoming, and more concerned with feeding their family than anything else. Many citizens in Niger have not had the opportunity to learn to read, so they’ve not read the Qur’an or the Holy Bible. Do you consider all Americans, to Christians, because America is called a  “Christian” nation? People are in Niger are considered Muslim, because they live in a “Muslim” nation, yet many have never read the Qur’an and don’t receive religious training. They participate in some of the rituals, but how many people in America exchange Christmas gifts with little knowledge of the birth of Jesus.

Women in Niger spend their days gathering water, pounding millet, and caring for their children. They don’t seem to be concerned about world politics, or religious differences. When visiting compounds in Niger, women graciously remove a mat from their home and spread it in front of us. If they possess a chair, they offer the very best seat to us. We share our names and ask them their names. As we begin telling them the purpose of our visit, the group usually grows in number, as others become aware that Americans are visiting. They listen, with rapt attention, when we tell them about God’s plan for salvation. I’ll never know if the seeds planted will be harvested, but I pray for God to soften their hearts.

When I was in Niger, and passed people on the road, I felt heartbroken. Many will die never knowing there is a God who loves them so much that He sent His son to die for their sins, and well as for my sins.

I love Muslims, and if you’re a Christian, you should too. Not everyone will have the opportunity to travel to a third world country, to share the gospel. But we should all love our neighbors, and that includes Muslims (and politicians with whom we do not agree.) No one is perfect, especially me.

Burning a mosque will never bring someone to know Jesus. Removing a Muslim from a group setting will antagonize other Muslims. Asking Muslims to register will not protect us from the evil people who wants to harm us. That activity reminds me of Hitler requiring the Jewish peoples to register, and makes me shiver.

My experience of showing respect, grace, and love has opened the door to friendship, love and a heart open to receiving the Holy Spirit. I’m NOT perfect, and I struggle to love everyone, especially politicians who treat others disrespectfully. Thank goodness, I have a Savior who intercedes for me.

Let us all strive to love our neighbors, and our enemies.

But I say to you, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (46) For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? (47) And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? (45) You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.’” Matthew 5:44-48

#africanmissions #missions #loveyourneighbor #loveyourenemies