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.