Saturday, August 05, 2017

Live In Concert…

Colbie ConcertWe’ve been enjoying some amazing deals on SoCal activities courtesy of Groupon.  Tonight, we attended a concert by Colbie Caillat at the Pacific Amphitheatre.  We have enjoyed Colbie’s music and it was a special treat to see her live on stage.  Our Groupon seats were at the back of the amphitheater, but we still had a good view of the stage.  Pacific Amphitheatre is an intimate concert venue and smaller than we remembered.  It’s been years since we’ve been to a live concert.  It was a very special night for us as a couple – one we know we’ll cherish for a long time.

The concert was part of the Orange County Fair, so fair admission was included in the ticket price.  Although we’d been to the fair a couple of weeks earlier, we wandered around after the concert and indulged in some more unhealthy fair food.  One thing we particularly enjoyed was fresh baked, warm and melty chocolate chip cookies from Cathy’s Cookies.  We also bought a batch of cookies and gave them to the volunteers working the Gideon’s Bible distribution booth.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Up Up And Away In My Beautiful Balloon

Great Park BalloonToday we went to see the Great Park in Irvine.  One of our goals was to experience the balloon ride.  Elements of the former Marine Corps Air Station were evident including runways and hangars that are part of the park landscape.

A light breeze was blowing as we arrived at the park in the late afternoon.  Unfortunately, the wind was too strong for the balloon to safely fly.  We made a reservation and decided to wait to see if the wind calmed down enough to go on the balloon.  As we were waiting, we explored a timeline of Orange County and the history of the Great Park that is painted along one of the old runways.  The timeline starts in prehistoric days and continues to present day.  We learned a lot of interesting history about the OC.

The sun set before the wind died down enough for the balloon to launch.  After two hours of waiting, we boarded the balloon.  It was worth the wait.  Although we couldn’t see as much at night, we had a beautiful lighted view of the area.  Julie wasn’t too thrilled with the idea of a balloon ride, but it turned out to be very calm and peaceful.  It is a giant tethered helium balloon that slowly rises to a height of 400 feet.  A large steel gondola securely holds 25-30 people.  It was nothing like a wild amusement park ride.

Marry MeWhen we landed, there was a large group of people gathered around the balloon despite the rest of park being deserted.  We had a sense something special was about to happen, so we waited to see.  As it turns out, a young couple boarded the next flight after us.  As the balloon went up, the young man proposed to his fiancée with lights on the ground below that spelled out “Marry Me”.  A group of their friends stayed on the ground taking pictures and cheering as the bride to be answered “yes”.  What a cool, unexpected surprise to witness!

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Buy Me Some Peanuts and Crackerjacks

PL - Big A RainbowYesterday we went to an Angels’ baseball game with Wilshire Avenue Community Church of Fullerton, one of our supporting churches.  Neither one of us really follows baseball, so walking into Angel Stadium was a lot like walking into a different culture.  Angels fans have their their own style of dress, eat different foods than we’re used to, and speak a dialect of English with a lot of terms and names we didn’t know.  Thankfully we still remember most of the rules of baseball, and although we weren’t familiar with the players, we could follow what was happening during the game.  We also enjoyed some great fellowship with people from the church.

There was an unseasonal rain as we drove to the stadium.  Thankfully it was a light rain and wasn’t enough to delay the game.  It had stopped by the time we parked our car, but it left an amazing rainbow above the Big A.  We thought for sure this was a sign that the Angels would win…and they did indeed – 7-1.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

No Boys Allowed

RDF Ladie's GroupThough John is an engaging public speaker and is in great demand at churches, Julie is naturally more qualified to speak at ladies’ groups, which is just what she did. By invitation of Laura Prickett, Julie attended a Bible Study  made up of women from Rose Drive Friends Church at Laura’s home on Balboa Island. While enjoying beautiful summer fruits and tasty summer salads on an umbrella covered patio just steps from the beach, Julie shared her personal experiences and life lessons gained from living overseas. Based on Naomi’s experiences in the book of Ruth, Julie encouraged the women not to live in a place of regret but rather to be alert and thankful for the many second chances God gives us to get right with Him, get right with others, and live out the purpose God has for each of us.

After the study it seemed appropriate on this gorgeous summer day to venture towards the ocean. Eight ladies took the ferry across from Balboa Island to the peninsula and walked down the pier to have lunch at Ruby’s Diner. Sounds like the kind of setting John would enjoy – so he did. After spending a couple hours walking along the shore between Balboa and Newport piers, and getting rather sunburned, John got his timing just right and joined the ladies for lunch. Maybe boys aren’t that bad after all.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Peace, Love And Sawdust

Sawdust Festival2Today we went to the Sawdust Art Festival in Laguna Beach.  Many years ago when we were first dating, John worked at a company just down the street from the festival grounds.  This brought back some very happy memories for us as a couple.  Laguna Beach is an artist community with a very unique hippy vibe.  We enjoyed walking around the festival and looking at a huge variety of beautiful and interesting artwork.  We also enjoyed engaging with some of the artists.  Many of them are very lost in their search for the meaning of life.  We used this as an opportunity to share our faith with them.  A couple of artists really stuck with us.  Please be praying with us especially for one artist named Debra and another named Mike.  They have both been on separate long journeys which have left them very confused.

After the festival closed, we wandered through several art galleries around town and finished with a beautiful sunset together on the beach.  Sadly, another couple sitting on a bench nearby were too engaged with texting on their phones to look up and enjoy the sunset or each other’s company.

Once it was dark, we decided to cruise down PCH in our car with the top down, enjoying the warm summer air.  We stopped at Ruby’s Diner to cap off a perfect day with a rich, thick milkshake.  A couple of tables away, we saw the same couple we had seen at the beach.  As they sat across from each other, they remained silent with their heads down, still fully engrossed with their texting conversations.  This was a sad realization of where American culture is today.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

There’s Yet Another Angel in Heaven

Kimberly & LeboWe’ve run into a difficult and challenging season.  Last week we lost our good friend Daniel Tieh.  Today, we attended a memorial service for Kimberly Baker, another dear colleague of ours.  Kimberly was a missionary serving in Lesotho with Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF).  We met Kimberly at Rose Drive Friends Church in Yorba Linda several years ago as she was considering becoming a missionary.  It was a joy to celebrate with her as this dream became a reality, and not long after, she was serving full-time with MAF as an accountant in Lesotho.  We were looking forward to reconnecting with her as we had overlapping furloughs in California this year.  Unfortunately, tragedy struck as she was diagnosed with stage four cancer.  Within a few weeks, she passed away and began a new assignment in her eternal home in Heaven.

Kimberly’s memorial service was quite touching.  There were many beautiful and fitting tributes to Kimberly’s life and ministry.  She will be missed dearly.  Kimberly has left behind Lebo, an adopted daughter from Lesotho.  Lebo in now 4 years old.  A few months ago, Kimberly had brought her to the States for the first time to meet Kimberly’s friends and family.  She had made arrangements with a family at Rose Drive to care for Lebo.  Please be praying for Lebo as she processes the loss of her adopted mother and adjusts to living in a new country and culture.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Food Glorious Food

Speaking of culture shock…

Fried A FairToday we visited the Orange Country Fair.  John loves the fair and insisted we visit while we’re in California.  The fair has a reputation for outrageous food offerings.  We were not left wanting.  We went on a Thursday when every food vendor offered samples for $3.  This allowed us to snack our way through the fair without leaving overly bloated.  We tried such delicacies as deep fried Oreos, and classics like funnel cake and fresh roasted corn on the cob.  We did pass on some of the more over-the-top choices such as deep fried butterballs (not turkey – actual balls of butter), Krispy Kreme donut cheeseburgers, and nitro popcorn.  Our cholesterol count probably skyrocketed, but we managed to leave without a side trip to the ER.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Culture Shock

Returning to the wealth and prosperity of Orange County after living for so many years in the developing world can often produce what’s known as reverse culture shock.  What used to be familiar to us has now become foreign and sometimes difficult to understand.  We also struggle to catch up and understand all the changes that have taken place since our last visit.

Frozen Pet FoodPets are not a concept in Malian culture.  Animals serve a useful purpose only.  There is no emotional attachment and they are treated like animals, not people.  Our culture shock today came as we visited a pet store while we were out shopping.  We stood speechless in front of a refrigerated food section in the store.  That idea in itself, really left us scratching our heads.  After we got over the sticker shock of the price people will pay for pet food, we were further baffled as we discovered the imbalance of human social responsibilities being transferred to people’s pets too.  Organic meat – cage free poultry – farm raised rabbit.  Really?!?! Then came the doggie strollers.  No words.

Wednesday, July 12, 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, July 09, 2017

A Pier Relationship

Harveys & ClarkYesterday afternoon we met Eric and Kelly Harvey, longtime friends from John’s days of working at Ingram Micro.  We had dinner at Charlie’s Chili at the base of the Newport pier.  It was a stunningly beautiful SoCal weekend and the beach was packed.  It took us over an hour to find a place to park.  We were thrilled to finally find a parking space that was close to the pier.

Coming back to SoCal after being gone for so many years has its challenges.  For the most part, we can still find our way around, but now and then we suffer an occasional senior moment.  This happened to be one of those moments.  When we got out of the car and began walking to the pier, we were horrified to realize we were at the wrong pier!  We had parked at Balboa pier by mistake.  The Newport pier was two miles away with gridlocked traffic and impossible parking prospects.  Thankfully, there was a free beach shuttle bus running this weekend and we were able to hop on that to go to the other pier.  We arrived at Charlie’s on Africa time – 45 minutes late, but thankfully Eric and Kelly had waited for us.  We enjoyed a wonderful evening together eating, walking along the beach, stopping for Balboa Bars, and catching up with each other’s lives.

Friday, July 07, 2017

A Perfect 10

Las BrisasAfrica has been our home for close to 16 years.  Returning to California sometimes stirs up a lot of emotions as we peek at some of the things we left behind so many years ago.  Tonight, we drove down to Laguna Beach to bask in some of the best California has to offer.  We had a magical dinner together watching the sunset followed by a spectacular full moon over the water.  It’s going to be hard to say good-bye to this in November, but we’re trusting God will continue to renew our hearts for Mali.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Family Reunion

Airport GoodbyeThe company Cole works for decided to take an extended Fourth of July holiday weekend.  We jumped at the chance of spending time with Cole and flew him down from Chico to spend the weekend with us.  We packed in a LOT of activities that exhausted us all.  John did a lot of Groupon mining which saved us a ton of money.

GeoffreyOn Saturday. We visited the Fender Guitar museum in Fullerton, played a game of laser tag, then popped into ToysRUs just because.  We had the special treat of seeing Geoffrey Giraffe live and in person.  Next, we treated Cole to a special dine-in movie experience.  We saw the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie (one of Cole’s favorite movie franchises) complete with restaurant style food served by waiters and waitresses as you sit in comfy leather reclining chairs.  After the movie, we joined John’s mom for a family dinner theater experience at Merlin’s Magic Dinner Theater in Orange.  We enjoyed a sumptuous meal followed by a very entertaining magic show, courtesy of Groupon and John’s mom.  As an added bonus, Julie was invited to be on stage and help out with one of the magic tricks.

John Julie Cole RosanneOn Sunday we had the opportunity to attend church together at Calvary Church of Santa Ana.  After church, we spent time at Irvine Spectrum, one of Cole’s favorite SoCal attractions.  We then challenged ourselves to an escape room experience.  We were paired with another family and together, we were able to solve all the puzzles and decipher the clues, finding our way out of the room before time expired.  We were quite proud of ourselves.  If you’re looking for something to do, we would highly recommend trying an escape room.  We had a blast.  There are several excellent deals on Groupon.  The fun and games didn’t stop there, we finished the night at John’s mom’s house playing Rummy Cube.

FireworksOn Monday, we spent the morning with Grandma again, before venturing into downtown LA.  Our first stop was lunch at Philippe, home of the French Dip sandwich.  After lunch, we walked down to Union Station.  We then spent most of the day at the Petersen Auto Museum oohing and aweing over the massive collection of specialty cars.  Once the museum closed, we headed back to the OC for dinner at BJ’s at the Block.  We finished the night by driving to Disneyland to watch the fireworks from a nearby hotel parking lot.  Cole leaves for Chico tomorrow afternoon, so we celebrated Independence Day early.

Guitar HerosTuesday, July 4th was our last day together.  We started by returning our rental car to LAX.  Cole wanted to do some souvenir shopping, so we stopped in some shops across from Disneyland where our visitor center used to be located.  We then spent a couple of hours at Main Place shopping center before taking Cole to the OC airport for his early afternoon flight.  It was sad to see him go, but we were grateful for an unexpected weekend together.  We’re also looking forward to spending more time with Cole when we travel up to Chico in October.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Little Red Corvette (ALMOST)

Sebring LimitedOn our last furlough to the States, we had a Chrysler Sebring convertible that we absolutely loved.  Our plan was to sell it when we returned to Mali, but in the end, we passed it along to Cole after his pickup truck became cost prohibitive to repair.

We enjoyed the Sebring so much, we decided to look for another one on this furlough.  After searching for a couple of weeks, we were fortunate to find an unbelievable deal we couldn’t pass up.  We found a 2004 Chrysler Sebring Limited convertible with 78,000 miles for only $3,000.  (This is the first car we’ve owned from this century!)  Since we’ll only be driving it for 5 months, we should be able to resell it in November for about the same price.  In the meantime, we’re looking forward to experiencing California with the sun shining down on us and the breeze blowing in our face.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Hurry Up And Wait

We had a relaxing 4 day stopover in Paris in route from Bamako to California.  Yesterday, we arrived without incident at LAX.  We used a brand new phone app that was just implemented by US Customs that allowed us to bypass the lines for passport processing and customs and fast tracked us to the next available agent.  This reduced what is normally a 30-45 minute wait down to less than five minutes!  Unfortunately, one of our pieces of baggage was missing so all the time saved was made up hopelessly waiting at the baggage carrousel.  90 minutes later, we were on our way hoping to be reunited with our bag in a couple of days.

We picked up our rental car and headed to Tustin, where we’ll be staying for the next five months.  We’re grateful to be staying in one of Calvary Church’s missionary houses for the duration of our trip.

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 fiancée 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.