Friday, July 14, 2017

There’s Another Angel In Heaven

Daniel & May TiehWe just learned that our close friend Daniel Tieh, died in a bus accident in Mali this week.  Daniel, his wife May, and their oldest son Darius were returning to Mali from Liberia where they were attending Darius’ graduation.

We were shocked when we received the news as Daniel has been such an important part of our lives.  His wife May was seriously injured and was in a coma.  She has awakened out of the coma, but is suffering with substantial injuries including several crushed ribs.  Darius has been thrust into the role as leader of the family and is working on the details of caring for the family.

We originally met Daniel when we first arrived in Mali in 2001. Since then, he has been our closest friend and colleague.  He played an instrumental role in many of our evangelism ministries and was a key part of our Jesus Film outreaches.  We are devastated by his passing.  Three weeks ago, Daniel dropped us off at the airport.  We had no idea that would be the last time we saw him.

Daniel was a missionary from Liberia.  He felt a strong call to Mali and has been ministering in the country for over 25 years.  He was an amazing evangelist who passionately shared the Gospel with everyone he met.  He was also a compassionate and very attentive pastor.  He planted many churches in Mali, ran a Bible school for new pastors, and operated a Christian elementary school.  He loved Malians and his life was dedicated to sharing the Good News with them.

Daniel’s family lives on very limited resources.  They now face an urgent and large financial obstacle of transporting the body back to Liberia for burial along with relocating the family to Liberia.  Due to her injuries, May will need to fly to Liberia, adding to the cost of transportation.  Please be praying for the Tieh family, Daniel’s colleagues, churches, and students.  Please contact us if you would like to donate to the family to help them in this time of distress.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

I’ll Be Right Here

BXC Sendoff - June 2017Today was an emotional day at Bamako International Church as we bid farewell to our congregation.  There were a lot of tearful good-byes.  Due to the transient nature of the international community, many people will be gone by the time we return.  A strong sense of community and family has been built at the church and we are going to miss everyone dearly.  Starting this church has been John’s vision for many years and it’s a joy to see it come to fruition.  But in the end, it’s not our church, it’s God’s church and we trust He’s going to continue shepherding it while we’re gone.  We are so grateful for Frank and Sharon Arthur who have stepped forward to lead the church until their retirement in November.

John’s message today focused on departure.  He began with famous good-bye movie clips from E.T. (yesterday marked the 35th anniversary of E.T.), Casablanca, and The Jesus Film.  He spoke about Jesus’ ascension, promise of the Holy Spirit, and Pentecost, fulfilling God’s promise of never leaving us alone.

At the end of the service, Frank led in the church in prayer for us and sent us off with a wonderful blessing.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee

Last week at church, we had a visitor named Mohamed Ali.  It’s actually a popular and revered name in the Muslim community.  That is why the famous boxer Cassius Clay changed his name to Mohamed Ali when he became part of the Nation of Islam.

Mohamed Ali (the Malian, not the boxer), came to church at the invitation of Frank Arthur, the pastor that will be overseeing the church in our absence.  Mohamed Ali is showing a lot of interest in Christianity and wants to attend our church regularly and learn more about Christ.  Frank will be meeting with him weekly to do a personal Bible study and answer any questions about Christianity.  Please be praying for Mohamed Ali as he seeks the Truth.  This is a challenging uphill battle that is accompanied by persecution and suffering in Mali.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

This Job Is No Longer Available

We are happy to report that we have found a pastor to fill in for us at Bamako International Church while we are in the States on furlough.  The Lord sent us someone from the mission community who is retiring in November, just as we return.  He is enthusiastic about pastoring the church in our absence.  Thank you for your prayers.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Traffic Stop

Nigerian GirlsWe recently received a phone call from a Nigerian pastor friend who does prison ministry in Bamako.  He needed help repatriating two Nigerian girls who were recently released from jail on prostitution charges.  They were originally brought to Mali against their will as part of a sex trafficking ring.  There are currently over 3,000 Nigerian women who are victims of the sex traffic industry in Mali.

The pastor was able to obtain emergency travel documents for the girls from the Nigerian embassy and we provided financing for their paperwork and return trip.  Please keep these young women in prayer as they return home.  Also please be praying for the thousands of women that are trapped and abused in Mali as part of this sad situation.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Growth Spurt

BIC 30 April 2017We had a lot of visitors at Bamako International Church yesterday.  In addition to our regular church family, we had a German/American family, a family from Ethiopia, a man from Sierra Leon, a woman from the States, and a woman from Finland.

Our church is a very transient community, so we never know how many people we will have from week to week.  It was unusual to have such a high attendance after Easter, but we’re hoping this is a sign of things to come.

Please continue praying for someone to lead the church in our absence while we are on furlough in the States.  The leads we were following haven’t worked out, but we trust the Lord has someone lined up.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Down By The Riverside

Baptism - CharlesSeveral weeks ago we hosted a ministry showing the Africa Cup soccer tournament on a big screen in front of our house, followed by The Jesus Film.  On one of the last nights, a man approached us and said he wanted to be baptized.  We were overjoyed!

Today, we helped host a baptism at the Niger River with our pastor friend Daniel Tieh.  He brought three people from his church in addition to Charles, the man from the Jesus Film ministry.  It was a wonderful experience.

Please be praying for Charles.  He is a professional soccer player who came to Mali to play on the Malian national soccer team.  Unfortunately, there’s been a rift between Mali and the FIFA – the governing body of professional soccer in Africa.  Mali is currently banned from playing in FIFA games and the team is in hiatus.  This means Charles has not been formally picked up by the team and he is unemployed.  Please pray that he will find work until the Malian team in reinstated.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Small But Meaningful

Alpha Holy Spirit DayToday was a special full day retreat day for the Alpha Course.  It’s focused on the Holy Spirit.  We began with worship songs and some fun activities.  We had some very good teaching times interspersed with meals and games.  We ended with Toh – a favorite dish for most Malians.  It’s made with millet and okra sauce.

Our attendance was small with just 2 attendees, but we had some powerful teaching and discussion times.  We know the people that came were the one’s God has really been calling.  We have just two more nights before the Alpha Course draws to a close.  Please continue to keep our Alpha guests in your prayers and they are drawn closer to making a decision for salvation.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Opportunity Knocks

helpwanted,hippies,sign,vintage-e8161e01d4de57b94d64e22f26440439_hA year ago, we helped plant Bamako International Church – a church focused on reaching the thousands of English speaking expatriates in Mali.  The couple that co-founded the church with us has since relocated to Ethiopia.  As we prepare for our home assignment this summer, the church will be left without a pastor or worship leader while we’re gone.  Filling this void before we leave has become our main priority.

We are currently seeking an individual, couple, or family to help lead the church in our absence.  This is an amazing opportunity to experience missions and get a taste of Africa.  Although Mali is a French speaking country, all of the ministry at the church is English.  Our home is within walking distance of the church and we are making it available rent-free so living expenses will be minimal.  Although previous missions experience is helpful, it is not required.  You do not need to be part of a mission agency.

Perhaps this sounds intriguing to you.  Or maybe you know someone who may be interested.  We will be gone from June through November.  Although we’d ideally like to have someone come for the entire six months, even filling in for part of that time would be helpful.  Please be thinking and praying about this opportunity.  We’ll be happy to answer ANY questions.  Remember, we stepped out of our comfort zone feeling completely inexperienced and underqualified when we first came to Mali.  However, we are living testaments of what God can do when we simply make ourselves available to His call.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Ticket to Ride

Air France A380We’ve solidified our plans for our upcoming furlough and home assignment in California.  Yesterday we purchased our plane tickets.  We’ll be leaving Mali on June 15th.  Since we’re flying through Paris, we’ll be stopping for a few days to see the City of Lights.  From Paris to LA we’ll be flying on an Airbus A380 – the massive double decker jumbo jet – something that’s been on John’s bucket list.  We arrive at LAX on June 20th and will be staying through November 15th.  We’ll be living in Tustin, California in one of our home church’s missionary houses.

We are looking forward to seeing as many people as possible on this trip.  We’d like to start booking time for visiting, so please don’t hesitate to contact us to make an appointment to get together.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Will You Marry Me?

BXC - Michel Wedding FamilyThe International church we’re currently leading celebrated a joyful milestone this weekend.  We had our first wedding!  A woman who recently started attending our church approached us several weeks ago and asked if she and her fiancĂ©e could be married by our church.  She is Malian and is marrying a man from Switzerland who is in Mali as part of the UN peacekeeping mission.  We didn’t actually meet the groom until the day of the wedding as he has been in Switzerland recovering from injuries he received in a terrorist attack in Mali a couple of years ago.

The wedding ceremony and reception were Saturday at a hotel about 2 hours outside of Bamako where the couple had originally met.  John asked a friend who’s an ordained pastor to officiate over the ceremony.  Another man who attends our church is also an ordained minister and provided a message during the ceremony.  John was asked to serve communion to the couple.  Even though our church remains relatively small, we had 3 pastors from our congregation participate in the ceremony.  The multilingual/multicultural ceremony was a combination of Malian, Swiss, and Nigerian to account for the diverse international backgrounds of the bride and groom and their families.  On Sunday, we hosted a second reception at the church following our regular Sunday service for members of our church who were not able to attend the wedding.

BXC - Michel Wedding CertificatePlease join us is congratulating Mr. & Mrs. Sebastien and Deborah MICHEL.  Also, please be praying for them.  Sebastien is continuing his work with the peacekeeping operations in the north.  He is a munitions and demining expert who specializes in deactivating land mines and explosive devices.  Next week, he will relocate to the city of Gao which is the front line of the war while Deborah remains in Bamako.  Please be praying for his safety and for this young marriage which is going to endure a lot of separation due to the nature of Sebastien’s work.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Home Theater Project

Jesus Film - Niamakoro Neighborhood WomenFollowing on the success of our Africa Cup ministry, several women in our neighborhood approached Julie to ask about seeing the Jesus Film in the privacy of our home.  Julie worked with Mamou, a Christian woman who helps in our house, to arrange a special screening this week.  Mamou did a great job advertising the event around our neighborhood.  Julie was expecting 3-4 women.  She was surprised when 15 women showed up.  Everyone was quite excited and watched the film intently.

Soon after the film started, a Jehovah’s Witness came to our door to hand out literature and talk.  Julie was originally shaken up by this, but then realized that their door-to-door campaign wasn’t going to be effective because most of the neighbors were sitting in our living room and wouldn’t be home to answer their doors.

The Jesus Film takes a crucial turn when it reaches the scene of the Last Supper.  About this time, a majority of the women got up and left.  Julie was perplexed and saddened, thinking they didn’t want to see the most important parts of the film.  As the movie continued to run, Julie and Mamou talked with a few of the women outside to find out why they were leaving.  It turns out they weren’t offended by the film, but by a woman who had just arrived late.  Julie had extended a special invitation to this woman whom she was now discovering most of the neighborhood didn’t like.  She has a reputation of being a thief and someone who cannot be trusted.  We were all too aware of this woman’s dishonesty as she had stolen several hundred dollars of emergency cash from our home several years ago when she worked for us, however we were unaware that our neighbors had also been taken advantage of and she was strongly disliked.  Although she immediately lost her job after stealing from us, we extended forgiveness and have worked to maintain an ongoing relationship with her.  Julie’s invitation to see the Jesus Film was an example of this.  Julie worked at explaining this to the women, but they had difficulty understanding how forgiveness like this is possible.  What Julie thought would be a simple one day showing of the Jesus Film has expanded into a complex ministry opportunity.

Please be praying that our neighbors can come to understand the power of God’s forgiveness and the life transformation that is possible through salvation.  Be praying specifically that as Julie continues to minister to this one woman who has wronged many people, that she will repent of her sins and seek forgiveness in Jesus.  Pray that she will come to understand why Julie is reaching out to her even after what she’s done to us.

Over the past few days, several neighbor ladies have come to our home during day while Julie has been at school asking when they can come back to finish watching the Jesus Film.  The fields are ripe for the harvest.  Please pray for wisdom and strength for Julie as she embarks on this new ministry journey.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Prodigal Son Returns

Patick Smith - February 2017Since returning to Mali a couple of years ago, John has been trying to reconnect with people he was ministering to before we left.  One man is named Patrick Smith.  He is a Liberian who came to Mali as a refugee many years ago following the war in Liberia.

Patrick has spent many years dealing with a lot of internal conflicts and demons (literally).  He committed some atrocities in the war which continue to haunt him.  In addition, he has been suffering with some serious health issues.  His lifestyle has been questionable as he’s been involved in several criminal activities.  We had not seen Patrick since we left Mali in 2012.  John has been asking around town to see if he could find Patrick or if anyone had any news about him.  Everything continued to come up empty including searches in the hospitals and prisons.  We had feared for the worst that Patrick had passed away due to medical issues.

Last week we received an amazing surprise when Patrick showed up at our front door!  It turns out he’s been living in a neighboring country under an assumed name.  John spent time reconnecting and catching up with him.  He invited Patrick to our church and we were overjoyed when he came to our service yesterday.

Patrick still has a long way to go in his reconciliation and healing process.  Please be praying that he can truly repent of the things he’s done both in during the war and the years following and there will be true transformation in his life.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Alpha Continues

John started a new Alpha Course at Go Global two weeks ago.  It got off to a bit of a slow start when only 2 people showed up for the first session.  Needless to say, we had a lot of left over food as we ordered enough for 35 people.  John and the team prayed for more students and did some more recruiting.  Last week a dozen people attended.  We’re hoping they will bring friends and there will be even more students this week.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Are You Ready For Some Football?

CAN2002 - People Watch Jesus FilmIn the past, we have hosted a unique ministry centered around the Africa Cup international soccer tournament.  It began 15 years ago by putting our TV in front of our house to share the soccer games with our neighbors, followed by showing the Jesus Film after each game.

143We currently live in a house with a big dirt lot just outside our front door which often serves as a local soccer field.  This year, we set up a large projection screen and stretched 150’ of cable from a TV satellite dish on our roof to a projector to share the games with our neighbors and people passing by.  After the games, we would show the Jesus Film in Bambara – the local dialect in this part of Mali.  We had 40-50 people watching the game, and 20-40 watching the Jesus Film each night.  It would usually be two groups of people – the men would come for the game, and the women would come afterwards to watch the film.

We had several partners help out this year including our Liberian pastor friend Daniel Tieh, and a few people from our YWAM Bamako Team.  In addition to showing the Jesus Film, we handed out Gospel tracts and Bibles.  Many people showed an interest in the Gospel and we collected many phone numbers to contact people for more personal conversations.  On the last night, one of our neighbors even asked to be baptized!

2529As many of you were watching the Super Bowl on Sunday, we were just finishing the final match for the Africa Cup as Cameroon beat Egypt, wrapping up the 3 week tournament.  We battled mosquitos and endured dust for 18 nights from 7pm – 11pm.  In the process, we built many bridges and forged new relationships with our neighbors.  Truth be told, we weren’t thinking of doing this ministry this year, however our neighbors started asking when we were going to show the Jesus Film again!  Who can say “no” to that!  

Please be praying for the people who saw all or parts of the Jesus Film.  May they be moved into following Christ as their savior.  Also, please be praying for Julie as she prepares to host more intimate showings of the Jesus Film in our home for the women in our neighborhood.