Jody and Sarah Fox - this phase of our Journey as IMB missionaries in Niger, West Africa

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Giving out of Poverty

Written by: Jody
 
Here in Niger we have a number of believers.  Many are scattered in little villages up and down the Niger River.  About 5 or 6 years ago a man by the name of Isaac* came to know Christ as his Lord and Savior.  Because of his faith Isaac has undergone some persecution in his village on the border of Niger and Mali, but through it all he has continued in his walk with his Savior.  Currently through Isaac's and others witness a small church has formed in his village.  Because of the war in Mali this past year, our supervisors are unable to get to the village to do follow up work.  It's unsafe for westerners in that area, and unless you have a military escort you cannot and are not allowed by the government to go that far northwest.
 
Isaac also knows about the International Mission Board (IMB).  It was IMB missionaries who came to his village through the giving of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and taught and discipled this man.  Isaac knows about the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and he is grateful that people give so that missionaries can come and bring people like him the hope of Jesus Christ. 
 
During this past rainy season, the heavy rains destroyed Isaac's mud brick house.  Isaac is extremely poor, he lives on less than 2 dollars a day.  He depends on the poor land to produce crops for his family to eat for the year.  Yet, his love for the Lord is strong.  Recently when a church back in America heard that Isaac's house had fallen they took an offering to give to him so he could rebuild his house.  The money was sent to our supervisors who then gave it to Isaac.  He could have easily taken all of the money given to him and used it to rebuild his house and buy a large quantity of food for his family.  However, knowing that IMB missionaries were sent to his village to share the gospel with the gifts provided through Lottie Moon, he asked on his own initiative, if a portion (about $30) of the money he just received could be given to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.  A man in a village in Niger, that lives on $2/day and had just been blessed with money he needed, gave out of his poverty so that, in his words, "More people can be sent to share Christ with people like me."

 
Thirty dollars may not seem like a big amount of money to give to Lottie Moon, but for Isaac it was a great sacrifice.  This would be about a months wages for him. When Isaac gave up this money, he was not giving up a few Christmas presents, no he was giving up a big amount of money for him and much needed money for his family.  This is truly a man who has given out of his poverty so that the gospel message can go forth among the nations.
 
We STRONGLY encourage you to give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering this year and to give above and beyond.  If you are not a member of an SBC church, this offering is a big reason we are able to serve the Lord in Niger, West Africa.  This offering goes to support current  missionaries and to send more missionaries overseas to tell the nations of the saving work of Christ. Please consider giving this year through your local SBC church or through the link I have provided here.


*name has been changed for security reasons

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Beautiful Feet


 

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed?

And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?

And how are they to hear without someone preaching?

And how are they to preach unless they are sent?

As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

Romans 10:13-15

It always amazes us when we find someone in our village who has never heard of the name of Jesus.  However, we have found out recently that many of those who have not heard of the name we use for Jesus (Yesu) probably have heard of Isa, whom many Muslims are familiar with.  Isa is the Arabic name for Jesus.  Some accurate things have been taught about Jesus, however many important and necessary truths are missing.  Muslims view Him as only a prophet, and not God incarnate and not the Son of God.  They do not believe He died or was resurrected, or that He atoned for the sins of mankind.  Of course, this is NOT what the Bible teaches about who Jesus is and there are many in our villages who have never heard an accurate presentation of the Gospel message and how they can be saved.  They live in fear, clinging to an empty hope that maybe through enough good works they will obtain eternal life, but in reality without faith in Christ they await a Christless eternity in hell.  This is just one of the many reasons we desire to take the message of Christ, the true and faithful message of Christ, to the Songhai people -- that the glory of God may roll off their lips in praise to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for all eternity.     

The verses in Romans 10 tell us that people must be sent with the true message of Jesus to those who have never heard.  Well, we have been sent here to bring the good news to the Songhai people.  But this task is too great for us.  There are too many people, too many villages, too much lostness.  This is a task for the body of Christ.  We’ve already seen the church at work by supporting us financially to be here and by so many people praying for our family and the Songhai people.  We’ve even had numerous people come on short term assignments.  But we need more of those beautiful feet talked about in Rom. 10.  We need ‘feet on the ground’, running around preaching the good news! 

So how ‘bout it?  Do you want to have beautiful feet?  Well, in all reality you will have some of the dirtiest feet ever imaginable after walking around our village…but in God’s eyes they will be full of true beauty.  This summer we are looking for people to come and serve as summer missionaries with us.  You will be living in a village, living among the Songhai people, and bringing the good news of salvation to the lost.  That’s your task – share the gospel boldly and often.  We are looking for those who can commit to come for 6 weeks in May and June 2014 and who are college students or young adults (unmarried).  If you would like more information, just contact us by e-mail and we will send you a document with more details and we will be happy to answer any of your questions.

AND…if you aren’t a college student or young adult but want to come join us in ministry to the Songhai people please let us know!  We can start a conversation about how and when you can be involved.  We can use your help whether it is for short or long term service.

Last summer we had 5 college students who came and served as missionaries to the Songhai people.  They were a great encouragement to us and they were able to plant and water many gospel seeds.  They also grew in their faith and learned more about how God may be calling them to be involved in missions in the future.  Here are some pics of their time here.  Also, I’ve included a video from one of our summer missionaries, April, as she shares about her experience in Niger.


Here's the group with our village in the background
 

Emily holding baby Husseini
Caitlin at the market
April learning how to make pottery (our village is known for this)
Thomas and Logan getting ready to cross the river
Sharing the gospel
The boys enjoying some lunch
Caitlin and Cherifa
 
April and the cutest baby ever!
The boys with their host family
Thomas, Idressa, and Logan
 

Camels!

Body surfing down a sand dune



 Seeing giraffes in their natural habitat
 
And...here is April's testimony about her time in Niger last summer: 
 
 
 
 
DISCLAIMER: This will NOT be an easy 6 weeks.  You are not coming here for vacation!  You will be in an unfamiliar culture and you won’t be able to communicate very well.  You are coming in Hot Season and so you will experience HEAT as you never have before.  And you will see great poverty and lostness (Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world and our people group is 98% Muslim).  And above all those things you will be on the front lines of a great spiritual battle.  The Songhai people are in darkness and they have been for a long time.  So make sure you pray about this and have your church pray for you in this decision.  If God is sending you here that is wonderful and we would love to have you. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Heavy Heart

Written by: Sarah 

My heart has been heavy this week.

On Tuesday night we got a call that was crushing.  Our friend, I.,  called us and told us his son, Baby Husseini, died the night before.  I first introduced you to him on our June 15th blog “Pray for Baby”. 

Since the time I wrote that blog, God has answered our prayers and saved this baby.   No one in the village ever thought he would survive past a day or two, but God gave him life for four months.  He was eating and growing.  Churches in America were praying for him and even sent money to provide formula for the family since the mom’s milk did not come in.  Jody saw him 4 days before he died and said Husseini finally looked like a newborn.  He was no longer a sickly and little skin and bones baby.  He was filling out and looking good. 
Thomas, I., Baby Husseini, and Logan. This pic was taken about a month ago.

Wednesday morning after we heard the news, I went to visit the family.  They looked normal. They didn’t look like they had just faced the huge tragedy of losing a child.  The other siblings were playing around as always.  When I told L. (his mom) that I had heard about the death of Husseini, she simply replied, “He’s not here.”  She told me he had a cold and they took him to the clinic, bought him medicine, but he died.  There were no tears in her eyes.  It was all very matter of fact.  He was buried around midnight out behind the doctor’s office.  And that was that.  We asked a relative of the family if anyone cried when Husseini died.  He said no. 
April, Caitlin, and Husseini's 3 older siblings
L., Husseini's mom.  Cooking a meal in her kitchen for the goodbye party
for our interns last month

So this week my heart’s been heavy for three reasons. 

One – I miss Husseini and I am sad I hadn’t been over to seem him recently.  I went out in the village Monday morning and thought about stopping by to see the family, but I didn’t.  I regret that.  I wish I could have seen him one more time.  I wish I could have taken one more picture of him to record his progress and remember him by.  I wish I knew he was sick.  I wish I could have held him in my arms and prayed for him.

Two – I don’t understand why God allowed this.  Why did he allow Husseini to survive through that first month, just to take him at month four?  I saw God save this baby who seemed impossible to save.  No one in the village expected him to make it as long as he did. I thought of him as the miracle baby.  I had fantasies of who this baby would become – a Christian, an evangelist, maybe a pastor in our village!  I felt that God had certainly saved this baby because He had something amazing in store for his life.  Now what?  I can’t make sense of it all, but I can say I completely trust God in all this, I am even able to praise Him…He has given and He has taken away…but I just wish I understood it all.  It doesn’t make sense to me, and that brings a heaviness upon my heart.  I may never know the reason behind this, but I can rest assured knowing God has a plan and purpose behind it.

Three – It’s very disturbing to me that no one shed a tear for this baby.  Death is so much a way of life here.  Everyone’s had children die.  Growing up they had siblings die.  It’s natural, normal, and expected.  So when someone dies, they say, “It was God’s will.”  Of course their god is not the God of the Bible, but I do agree that God is sovereign over life and death.  But that doesn’t mean death should just be shrugged off and accepted as a part of life.  If you do that, you are overlooking the value of human life.  Every human being is made in the image of God. When that image is stamped out, we must grieve. And David writes in my favorite Psalm “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” (139:13-14) Husseini is one of God’s wonderful works. Every breath he breathed in his four short months, brought praise to the true God – his creator and maker.  And when that wonderful work is taken away from us, we must grieve.  God’s creation, made in His image, has fallen to the plague of death.   I think about Jesus and Lazarus.  When Lazarus died, Jesus wept…and Jesus knew that He would soon be raising him back from the dead.  So why did He weep?  I think it’s because we are called to weep over death.  Death is the outcome of sin and is contrary to everything God is.  So I don’t think this culture is numb to death because they are surrounded by it.  Instead, I believe this culture is numb to death because they are without the gospel of Jesus Christ.  They live in darkness and are blinded to the truth.  And that lostness of so many people brings the most heaviness to my heart.

Pray for Husseini’s family.   They have heard the gospel many times, but have not believed. 

Pray for the Songhai people.  Pray that God may continue calling out His sheep to follow Him and that this culture would change for the glory of God - that one day, every life would be seen as precious in His sight and that when death does come, weeping will follow, along with hope of eternal life for all those who believe in Jesus. 
 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Volunteer Testimonies

Here are two more testimonies from some volunteers we had with us two weeks ago.  They are from Living Hope Baptist Church in Kentucky.  We like to include testimonies from volunteers on our blog so that you can learn more about the work from those who have been here as well as see how God has been at work not only in the Songhai, but also in the lives of those who come here to minister.  

Testimony 1:

This being my first mission trip as well as my first time out of the country, I had many unknowns and anxious moments. Such as not knowing team members,safety, separation from family, and my work in Africa. I really had no idea what to expect. No matter how much preparation you do you can't prepare for it all. But in God's mighty way ALL is what I got!!! He put me on a team that was exactly that, a TEAM. Everyone had genuine heart felt feelings for the Songhai, as well as each other. Safety was a simple process of just trusting GOD. He delivers. My family's willingness to let and want me to go made it easy to accept this mission trip with an open heart and open mind. I missed them greatly and couldn't wait to see them. Africa, what an experience. As JD said one word cannot explain this place. To see God at work while you work is mind boggling. For someone to hear the gospel for the first time and be captivated by it was an experience I have no words for. It was a jaw dropping moment. Lastly, these missionaries are phenomenal. The passion and genuine HARD work that they do day in and day out is truly a GOD calling. And for me to be a part of it was God's sovereignty.

James Rhodes



Living Hope Team
(Brandy, Brian, Todd, Cephas, James, JD, Chris, Peggy, Tony)


Testimony 2:


The cost of following Jesus.


This was the lesson I was asked to teach to a believer from K and a believer from YK. The scripture was  Mark 10:17-31. Before we began teaching we were able to hear the testimonies of these two brothers in Christ.  Let me just say that I didn't truly understand the cost of following Jesus. The daily challenges these men face is indescrible. From being cast out by their families and not being able to farm the family land to people not buying from them at the market because of their faith. Islamic opposition is everywhere you look, but the strength of Christ dwells in these men. At the end of the day I was able to teach these men the text, but they taught me what it actually looks like.


Worship.


On Sunday we were able to gather with some believers for worship. Before praying J asked if anyone had prayer requests. Ib from YK asked prayers that his wife would remember the Word of God in her mind and in her heart. This is a man that comes from a culture where they do not tell their wives they love them, but here is a man that has had his heart changed. Only through the power of Holy Spirit is that possible there. 


Powerful.


To sum up my experience in one word it would have to be "Powerful". I can use this word in so many different ways to describe my time here. Powerful was the sight of the Holy Spirit drawing that one sheep to His Word during our C2C presentations amongst all the distractions. Powerful was the hunger of the believers to learn more scripture & to learn how to present the C2C themselves so that they would be able to share in their villages and that others may come to know Christ. Powerful was the strength of the Songhai team as their work was long and hard. Powerful is the way my eyes were opened to the cost of following Jesus.  Powerful are the Blessings I received from the Songhai people. Powerful were those who came before us and those who will come after us for being obedient to the command to go and make disciples.


In closing I recall the words spoken to our team by the Chief of T who is not a believer. "Have patience in your work for your enemies are many.  Their message is like the rabbit, but yours is like the lion." 


Blessings,


Brian Buchanon

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Volunteer Testimony - Emily Dawson


God is sovereign despite our circumstances. God knows what He’s doing even when we don’t. God calls His sheep to himself.

That was the theme of this summer for me. Going into this summer, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I knew I was going to Niger for 5 weeks – and I knew it was going to be hot – and I knew I was going to share the Gospel with people who needed to hear it.

What I didn’t expect – some of the people we talked to had never even heard of the name Jesus before. I also didn’t expect the circumstances to be so hard. Sleeping on a mat in 90 degree weather or eating rice every day for almost every meal isn’t so bad for a week or two – but for 5 weeks – it gets hard. This was my first experience being on the overseas field for more than 2 weeks… and even before I went on this internship – I have had the intention of being a career missionary.

The thing that I learned over everything would be that this is God’s battle. Whether people stand or fall – accept the Gospel or reject it – is not my battle. My place is simply to obey what the Word tells us – and it tells us to go and make disciples. I learned to be more content in who I am, in Christ… and who God is. God is so big and mighty and unfathomable.  According to the psalmist, He can make the earth melt with his very voice… and He is worthy of all glory and honor and power. Words cannot describe just how much God is worthy of. Who are we to complain of our circumstances when the Son of God suffered so greatly and paid the ultimate price? God didn’t have to do that… but He did. What a marvelous mystery!

I am so thankful to have had this opportunity to serve among the Songhai people. I’ve been home for 3 weeks now – and I miss everything so badly – even the things I thought I wouldn’t miss.
I want to encourage everyone who reads this to continue to pray for the Fox family – that their faith would remain strong. I’d also like to encourage y’all to take the time out to share the Gospel with a co-worker, friend, or family member who isn’t a believer. Everyone needs the Gospel just as much as we do. Where would you be right now if someone hadn’t told you about the Gospel? Think about it.
Thank y’all for all your support and prayer!

Emily Dawson

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Volunteer Testimony...Bethany Baptist Church


For two years, our church has partnered with the ministry of Jody and Sarah Fox in Boubon through the labor of prayer.  We have been given the great privilege of praying that the gospel would be received among the Songhai, praying for new Songhai believers by name, and praying that churches would form in the villages along the Tillaberi Road.  In July 2013, God graciously gave us the opportunity to extend that partnership by sending a college student, Emily Dawson, to serve as a summer missionary intern for five weeks with Jody and Sarah.  We also sent three of us men in the church to Niger to work there for one week during the month of July.

Our time among the Songhai was focused on speaking the gospel of Jesus Christ to as many people as we could in four different villages.  We were given opportunities to speak to people of all ages, from the children to the village elders.  What a privilege to speak truth to a people enslaved to the darkness and lies of animism and Islam!  Our prayer of faith, then and now, is that our Lord’s sheep will hear His voice and follow him.

We were also given opportunities to teach new believers in some of the villages.  It was a joy to sit with our Songhai brothers and study God’s Word together and encourage one another in the faith.  We saw abundant evidence, in the lives of the believers there, of the power and love of God to sustain and grow His children through persecution and loss.  We sat with men who, I believe, grasp more fully than we what it means to ask the Father for our daily bread – and what it means to trust in the reality that those who are persecuted and reviled for Jesus’ sake possess the kingdom of heaven.  We were blessed indeed to meet these dear brothers.

Our fellowship with the Fox family and with Cephas and Odette, who bore witness with us and translated for us, was wonderful.  We are thankful for the ministry God has given them, and we have been given a far greater passion to pray fervently for them because of our time at their side.  (We were also present for Jordan’s 6th birthday bash, and much fun was had by all, especially the birthday girl and her two sisters!)

We are thankful for this extension of our partnership with the Fox family to reach the Songhai.  And we pray that we have many opportunities in the future to return and serve at their side, that the Songhai people might come to know our crucified, risen and reigning Redeemer.  As we boarded the plane to depart Niamey, our sentiment was not “Goodbye” but “To, kala tonton” (Well, see you later)!
Joseph Hedden, David Johnson, Ken Vickery – Bethany Baptist, Louisville, KY

 
David, Jody, Joseph, and Cephas walking across the "sand pit"

Joseph, S., Ken, and David

David teaching some children in Boubon
David, Emily, Joseph, and Ken presenting Proclaimers
they brought (audio New Testament) to I. and M.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Adjusting to the Heat...Sort of

Written by: Sarah
 
Why would you move to Africa?  This was a common thing we heard as we were preparing to move here to Niger.  And this month...we've asked ourselves that question more than a few times!  It's been a difficult month, but we've also seen God at work and we've been reminded of trusting in Him for strength.
 
The source of the difficulties has been our electricity, or should I say the lack of it.  It has been come and go the last 3 weeks...and with that our water also comes and goes.  Normally, this would be manageable, but since hot season is still here and the cool rains have yet to come...well, it's been unbearable at times!  And last week the electricity was completely out for the entire week!  The heat takes so much energy out of you and it's hard to even get a good night's sleep. But we know that this is where God's called us to be and we know He will sustain us.  This is a hard place to live which is one reason it is still unreached.  Just yesterday I talked with several women and not one had heard of the name of Jesus or the Bible!  I was reminded of the importance of being here and sharing the gospel with many people.

As we've been reading the book of Numbers with our girls in the mornings we are constantly reminded of the Israelites' sin of complaining.  So we pray for God to be merciful with us and pray that we may trust Him and depend on Him each day.  And if we have a good day...there's no guarantee we'll obey Him the next.  Each day we have to fully rely on God or we're sure to fall into sin!   And instead of complaining we need to remember the MANY MANY blessings God has given us...salvation, health, His written Word that we can read, and so much more!   

When we look at the people around us we see their physical poverty, their spiritual lostness, and the many struggles they go through each day.  God has truly blessed us, and we need to share those blessings with people around us. 
Here are some pictures of how we adjusted to not having electricity.

 
After seeing body outlines of sweat on our girls sheets, we decided to start sleeping outside under a mosquito net.  They loved it and would sleep there every night if they could!


All ready for bed!


Washing clothes by hand with my cute little helper!  We let the laundry piles build up in hope the power would come back on, but there came a point when we had to wash some by hand.  After all, you go through a lot of clothes when you are sweating 24/7!

 
Lauren taking a load of wet clothes outside to the clothesline.  I think she's having too much fun!




Keep it up, you're almost there!



This is how the people in our village keep their water 'cool'.  The water evaporates through the pottery to help it cool down.  It's not as refreshing as a cup of ice cold water, but it's better than the hot water we had in our house.


Camryn's dipping her cup in to get a drink.


Enjoy!


The girls also enjoyed eating dinner outside!  It was way too hot inside.
 Ok, the truth is we didn't make it the whole week without electricity. After about 5 days we had to get away from it.  We were totally drained, so we took a few days off and went to Niamey.  They've had their fare share of power issues, but we found a guesthouse with electricity (and a/c) and finally got a few good nights of sleep.  We also took advantage of our new Rec Center membership and went swimming three days in a row!  The pool was as warm as a bath tub, but we still had fun! 


Lauren and Jordan


Cannonball!


Lauren swinging high
 

We've been back in our village a few days now, and the electricity has been much better!  It comes and goes, but that's so much better than completely going without.  And I've finally caught up with our laundry!  In a couple of days we're headed to Kenya for a missionary retreat and we're excited about fellowshipping with other missionaries and getting a break from this heat for a while.  It'll be in the 70's there, so we'll probably freeze, but I think we can handle it!  

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Pray for Baby

Written by: Sarah
Please pray for this sweet little baby - Husseini.  Here's his story.

His family lives in our village.  His mom was pregnant with twins.  His dad is a friend of Jody's.  He has come at night a handful of times over the past year to speak with Jody.  Jody has shared the gospel numerous times with him, but he always goes away saying he has to think about it.  We believe he is considering the truth and may even believe what we say about the gospel is true, but there's a great cost in following Christ that he is unwilling to give up at this time.

About 3 weeks ago the mom gave birth to twins.  She did not deliver in our village, but was taken to Niamey.  One of the babies died either during the birth or shortly after.  Baby Husseini weighed 1 kilogram (about 2.2 pounds).

Just two days ago Jody was at the river with our girls taking some volunteers to see the hippos in our village.  The babies dad was there and started talking with Jody.  He informed Jody that his wife's milk had not come in.  He told Jody they had been trying to get goat's milk to feed the baby...but only a few times a day.

So Jody and I went to see the baby.  I could not believe my eyes!  I had never seen such a little baby.  He is just skin and bones.  I could not even believe he was alive.  He was born little, and then hasn't eaten much for his first three weeks.  We took the baby some formula and a bottle.  But, this baby needs prayers!  I prayed for the baby while I visited and told them I would be asking some Christian  friends in America to pray.  Pray that God may use this time in the family's life to show His glory and reveal Himself to them.  Pray that they may confess Christ and follow Him.  Pray that God may protect the life of this baby and that he may grow into a healthy little boy!

Here are some pics...

Sleeping
Notice his legs compared to my fingers

Mom feeding him with a bottle

The bottle's bigger than him!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Graduation Day

Written by: Sarah


This past year I have been homeschooling our girls.  For the most part I enjoy it, but it does take lots of time and energy!  And for that reason I am ready for a summer break.  This was our first full year of homeschooling and so we wanted to celebrate the end of the year and make it a special time for our girls.  We wanted to give them something to look forward to as well as reward them for their accomplishments.

 
So, here’s what we came up with.  First of all, we had a special graduation ceremony for our girls.  They sat in a row with their graduation caps as their principal (Jody) spoke to them about their school year.  Then I gave a speech recognizing each child and the special things they had done this past year.  Finally, they each came to the front to receive a certificate and a gift.  Camryn graduated from the first grade.  Jordan graduated from kindergarten.  And Lauren graduated from playing quietly while mommy taught her sisters.

 
All the girls in their graduation caps!
 
Lauren gets her certificate
 
Jordan graduates from Kindergarten!
 
Camryn's so excited, can you tell?
 
Yeah!  No more school!
 




After our ceremony we had a fun activity planned – a shaving cream fight!  When Jody was growing up this was what the kids in his school always did on the last day of school.  However, Jody was never allowed to participate because they would run all over town and he assumes his parents did not want him getting hit by a car.  So he wanted to continue the tradition in a safer environment and finally be able to participate.  Camryn and Jody loved it, Jordan hated it, Lauren refused to participate, and I got it all on camera.  Maybe next year it will be more of a hit!



Shaving cream...Lauren's mad about the whole thing.
At least Camryn had fun getting messy!
Cleaning up in the outdoor shower was fun though
We all enjoyed our last day of school and are very excited for our summer break.  We’re looking forward to teams coming to minister with us, a retreat in Kenya, six summer interns who will be with us in July and August, and more opportunities to be out in our village spending time with people and sharing the gospel.




Monday, May 13, 2013

Ministry and Family Update

Written by: Jody

It’s been a while since we posted a blog update about our ministry and our life so I thought I would give you a quick look into what is happening in Niger.

Ministry:

Ministry can have its ups and downs.  The ups are very encouraging.  Recently we have started a meeting for the believers in our village on a weekly basis.  We were hoping that this meeting would be initiated by the believers here, but after months of talking with some of them about it, I think they were just lost, confused and even skeptical that they could do such a thing.  So we started it, but from our second meeting we have been handing over responsibilities to the believers in the village.  This has helped them grow in confidence and see that they don’t need us, but have been blessed by the Lord to do this on their own. 

We have had 4 meetings now, and each one has gone well.  One non-believer has joined us the last two weeks and wants to know more.  And many kids come and sit in as well, listening to the Bible teaching.  At the moment I am teaching the group, but we are working on helping them learn how to listen and learn.  We teach children in the states how to listen and learn from their first day of school.  However, most people here have never been to school and if they have they have not learned how to listen or learn.  So when we play for them a portion from the Bible, many have no idea how to repeat the story back to me, or even what the story means.   If you ask them what the meaning may be, they give you a blank look, because in reality no one has really asked them questions like this.

Then there is the reality of teaching and re-teaching the stories again and again.  The first two times we met, I taught the same story each time.  They could hardly remember it from the week before.  We forget that we have heard these stories 100’s of times and they are burned into our memories, but for these people they are hearing them for the first time.  Just processing what the story says is hard enough at the moment, discovering it’s meaning just adds to the difficulty.

Just this morning I met with one of our main men in the group.  I taught him the story of Jonah and the great fish.  When I was done I asked if he would teach this story and it’s meaning to the believers this week in our meeting.  Although a little skeptical of whether or not he could do it, he agreed.  Pray for this believer this week, as I go back to see him on Thursday and Saturday to go over the story again with him and help him understand how to teach it to the group.

Also pray for our meeting at the moment.  If you noticed we have not called this meeting a church yet.  That’s because we don’t believe we have a church here quite yet.  A church is more than just a group of believers who meet together, although that is one qualification.  We are talking and praying through how we will know this group of believers is officially a church according to Scripture. 

We are also excited to have 6 interns coming to work with us for 7 weeks this summer.  Their main job will be sharing the gospel with as many people as possible and building contacts for us to follow up on when they go home.  Please pray for them as they will be hitting the ground here in early July.  

Family:

Now on to our family.  Our girls are doing great.  They are continuing to learn the language and make friends here.  Sarah has been homeschooling since August last year and now they are in their last week.  They all are ready for a break from homeschooling and are looking forward to the many teams we will have out here this summer. 

Recently their daddy, built them a super cool play/tree house.  Although it is not quite finished yet, they are enjoying playing with and on it and their daddy had a good time making it.  I have never built anything quite like this and it’s been fun learning along the way.    
Jordan in the playhouse
 
Camryn's oven and sink

Pray that our girls would also one day confess Christ as their Lord and Savior.  We have been talking and teaching them much about what it means to trust in Christ and they are asking some good questions.  We long for our children to believe in Christ and one day see His glory.

Sarah has had a very busy year.  Homeschooling is not an easy task, especially when it’s well over 100° on many days.  She then moves from homeschooling to cooking from scratch for dinner.  She amazes me continually at what all she has accomplished and seeing all that the girls have learned.

Although it’s been hard for Sarah to get into and do a lot of ministry this year because of homeschooling, she has been able to get out and do some.  Her language skills are better then she lets on to, and she is discipling a young lady in our village now who has recently come to Christ.  Pray that the Lord gives Sarah lots of opportunities this summer, since there is no home school, to meet and to teach women about the word of God.

Finally me, Jody.  Things are going well, ministry can be very slow and the hot days make me tired pretty much all the time.  However, we are seeing growth in some of our believers and new people are hearing the gospel.  God is also teaching me many things and although it sometimes feels that with every step forward there is an equal one backward, I am grateful for the opportunity to teach God’s Word.

We hope all is going well for you and if we can pray for you in any way, please let us know.