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

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