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

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Songhai T-shirts

We have had some awesome t-shirts made (thank you Ultra Prints for doing such a great job).  We are selling them for the cost of the shirt ($6).  We are not doing this to raise money, since we are fully supported by our Southern Baptist Churches.  The reason we had these made is to raise awareness and also to remind you to be praying for our family and the Songhai people.  Also, as you wear these shirts your friends and family (or even complete strangers) may ask you what the meaning of your shirt is.  This is a great chance for you to share about the Songhai people and also to share the gospel.

We have adult sizes small through 2X.  The shirts we currently have in stock are...

1) Blue Songhai Shirt (the Songhai are the people group we work among)


2) Black Fofo shirt (Fofo means 'hello' in the Zarma language which is the language of our people)

3) Brown Beautiful Feet shirt (this shirt is a reference to Romans 10:15 which says, "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!'")

If you would like a shirt, just contact us.  If you live in Louisville, Columbus, Cleveland, or Erie areas we will make sure to get it to you when we visit.  If you are not in those areas we can send you a shirt, but you would also have to pay for shipping.  Just contact us by e-mail (jodyandsarah@yahoo.com) and we will get the details worked out!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Compelled by the Gospel


Written by: Sarah

We have certainly enjoyed all of the traveling and visiting with friends, family, and churches these past 2 months.  It has truly been a blessing.  God has given us so many people who support us and bless us in ways that are unexpected.

We love when you ask us questions about our experiences in Niger and we love to share how God has been at work.  But sometimes y’all ask really difficult questions!  For example, “What was the hardest thing about living there?”  That’s a hard question to answer because there were a lot of hard things...it just depended on the day.  Here are some of the hard things about living in Niger - heat, lack of privacy, no church, no English speakers in my village, no ‘easy’ meals to cook, no fast food restaurants, homeschooling, seeing babies die, living amongst poverty yet not being poor myself, seeing my kids and husband struggle, lack of conveniences, power outages, lack of friends, being away from family...etc, etc, etc. 

The past three years were very stressful and very difficult.  But God is good.  He is SO good. And HE has been our joy and HE has been faithful to sustain us.

He has taught me (again and again) that He is my strength.  Spending time daily in prayer and Bible reading is essential.  Many people these past two months have also told me they think I’m brave and they could never do what I do.  Well, that’s certainly true.  Not the part about me being brave, but the part about not being able to do what I do. 

The truth is I CANNOT do it either -it’s only through the strength of Christ.  I have gone back to the story of Martha and Mary many times.  When Martha tells Jesus to tell Mary to help her with the work instead of listening to His teaching, Jesus replies, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.  Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42)  Listening to God’s teaching is NECESSARY.  That word necessary really stuck out to me one day and I’ve read this story many times to remind myself that it is necessary to be in God’s word.  The Lord is my strength.

Another popular question asked by some of you has been, “Do you want to go back?” The honest answer for me (especially when we first returned) was “NO”.  I have enjoyed being back in the states and there have been feelings of not wanting to return.  However, we will return because the GOSPEL compels us. 

It’s not acceptable that 2000 years after Jesus brought salvation there are still people who have never heard the name of Jesus and the gospel message.  They live without hope.  Without joy.  Without light.  Without life.  They serve a false god and have hell as their destiny.  It’s simply not acceptable. Jesus Christ came and “abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” (2 Tim. 1:10)  This news is too good to keep to ourselves! 

As Christians, we have been commanded to take the gospel to all nations.  Until that task is complete, we must be willing to GO -- even to the difficult places.  And even through the hard times we have joy in Christ and we learn how to rely on Him more and grow in our faith.  

I’m grateful for those of you who’ve given sacrificially so that our family can bring the gospel to the Songhai people.  And I’m thankful for the many people who have partnered with us in prayer. If you’d like to join us in Niger (short or long term), we’d love to talk with you.  Also, we will again be offering a summer missionary opportunity for young adults the summer of 2015.  

We’re looking forward to seeing more of you as we visit churches in the months to come!



Thursday, July 17, 2014

Our First 10 Days Back in the States

Written by: Sarah

After spending three years in Niger, we arrived back in the states 10 days ago.  Wow!  Already there have been so many emotions. 

We’ve been amused at watching our kids discover new things like how to flush an American toilet, how to use a gumball machine, and seeing the many automatic things – sliding doors, flushing toilets, sinks, and paper towel dispensers.  

Our kids have been excited over ‘ordinary’ things  - spotting the garbage truck outside their window TWICE in one day, counting mailboxes (253 from our home to church in case you need to know), discovering some kind of machine that dries clothes which Jordan thought perhaps the machine transports the clothes to a clothesline somewhere, meeting our new neighbors who keep giving candy to our girls, seeing a fire truck rush to a house fire, catching fireflies, eating peaches, plums, grapes, drinking fresh milk.

Lauren and Selah hugging at the airport

I have been reminded of the beauty of God’s world and enjoying it so much – trees upon trees, beautiful flowers growing everywhere…even up out of the ditches on the side of the roads, streams, lakes, corn fields, rolling hills, lush rainstorms that don’t bring dust covered living rooms and power outages.

We have been thankful for some modern conveniences.  Instead of cooking night after night I can get in the car, drive a ¼ mile to pick up a hot ‘n ready pizza or go to McDonald’s – it’s so nice to have a break from cooking.  We’re also enjoying smooth roads, cool weather, privacy, easy communication, playing sports, rocking on the front porch, vanilla coke, consistent electricity, free babysitting (thank you Grandma and Grandpa), etc. etc. etc.

Churches and family have blessed us with new clothing, preparing and furnishing a home for us, and filling our cupboards with groceries to last quite a while…including fresh baked cookies!

We’ve been thankful to once again be in a church worshiping the Lord in our heart language with brothers and sisters. 

We’ve shed tears.  Perhaps tears of fatigue and weariness.  To be honest, it’s hard to understand all the changing emotions. 

We’ve been with family.  Family is wonderful.  My mom, sister and nieces surprised us at the airport in Richmond and we were able to spend two great days with them.  And the last four days we’ve been in Corry, PA visiting with family.  Lots has changed in three years, yet in many ways it doesn’t feel like we’ve been away long at all.  We feel right at home with everyone and love our families so much.

 
Our girls and their cousins on the Fox family side
All this and more has happened in 10 short days.  But this is just the beginning – we still have more people to see, more things to do, more times to relax, more churches to visit, more times of worship, and certainly more emotions will come too.  We are thankful for this time in the states to get refreshed, refueled, and reconnected.  And we are excited to be able to share with others how God is at work among the Songhai people.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Jordan and Sakena


Written by: Sarah

Although I have never moved as a child, I've heard how difficult in can be on children. It's difficult to leave what they are familiar and comfortable with and it's difficult to say goodbye to old friends and make new ones.  Almost three years ago our children made a BIG move.  They left their home, their country, their extended family, and their culture.  We were informed of culture shock and such difficulties that go along with moving to a completely new environment - struggles that both we and our children would face.  We also heard that young children adapt quickly and adjust easily.  Both bits of advice, though somewhat contradictory, have proven true in our family.  We've found it depends on the child (both personality and age) as well as our (the parents) reactions to life.  If we love our new culture, stay positive and relaxed; then the children will do the same.  They take their cues from their parents.  Of course, that is a general statement and there are many other factors that play a part in how a child adjusts to a move, but we have found that to be fairly accurate for us.

Anyways, my main point of this blog is to talk about our daughter Jordan.  She was just a few weeks shy of 4 when we came to Niger.  She is a very sweet girl with a compassionate heart.  When I'm having a bad day she's the first to come and encourage me and tell me she's sorry I'm not having a good day.  However, in many ways she struggled here.  She was fine at home and playing with her sisters, but when it came to interacting with Nigeriens she didn't want to have anything to do with it.  She did not want to learn the language, Zarma.  Her older sister, Camryn, started picking up the language and trying to use it, but Jordan fought against that.  A few times we would only allow Zarma to be spoken at the dinner table.  This was meant to be fun...but Jordan only got frustrated and did not want to participate.  She even told us at one point that she hated black people.  Wow, that was tough to hear.  We came here to share the love of Christ with people in Niger and our compassionate daughter says she hates them.  Then the waves of self-doubt came flooding in.  What have we done?  Our compassionate child now hates people?  Should we even be here?  Are we ruining our child's life? And so on and so forth.  However, with some further probing we figured out the real truth. She didn't acually hate Africans.  She loved Biba, Cephas, and Odette who are Africans who can speak English.  We realized it wasn't people with a different color of skin she hated, but people she couldn't communicate with.  And in all reality, she didn't hate the people, but she hated the language barrier that separated her from them.  If she could get through that, her loving and compassionate self would once again flourish.

Jordan and Sakena
Getting through that language barrier is not a quick fix.  Kala suuru (be patient). In fact, for most of this term we've been asking people to pray for our girls to learn the language and be able to make friends.  Since we live out in the village, it's essential that they learn the local language  - there are no English speaking children where we are at- if they want to have friends. Jordan especially has struggled the most.  I want to say to those who've prayed, thank you so much!  God has heard and God has answered.  Over the past few months I've seen Jordan make small strides, but this past month I have noticed her growth even more.  When kids from the village used to come and play, Jordan would usually go inside and play by herself, but now she is out there interacting with the kids and playing with them.  When they leave, she always asks them to come back the next day.  She is seeking out kids to play with.  They play tag, hide and seek, or color together.  Also, she has been making good strides in her language.  She asks me how to say things in Zarma and she even goes around our house speaking Zarma, which she hasn't done before.  I'm so grateful for her growth and happy to see her enjoy more parts of life.  And to top it off...last Sunday as we left our gate to 'hike' to church she said to me, "I love Africa.  When I grow up I want to live here in Boubon."  I asked her what she likes about Africa and she said she likes to play with kids and she likes that people are so nice.  So there you have it, from 'hate' to 'love'...but definitely not overnight.  Thank you again for praying for all our girls and I praise God for helping Jordan and for giving us patience with her.  Here are some pictures of her playing with one of her friends, a sweet girl named Sakena.
Coloring together


They hung their masterpiece up on our gate

Friday, January 3, 2014

Looking for Prayer Warriors

(written by Jody)
Hello there from the Fox’s.  We hope you had a Merry Christmas and a blessed time this holiday season. 
I want to inform you of a new ministry we would like to make available to you or your church.  This ministry is a ministry of prayer.  We have learned many things about ministry over the last couple of years and one of the most important things is the importance of prayer.  So we are seeking to amp up prayer support for the Songhai people.  
Currently we are looking for 100 prayer warriors (from a combination of many churches) who will join us in prayer each day for 5 months for the Songhai people, starting from February 1st and ending on July 1st.  We fully understand that this is no small commitment, yet we desire to see God move and grow His church among the Songhai people through prayer. So we ask you to prayerfully consider joining us in prayer for the Songhai people and/or bringing this request before your church on our behalf, to see who among your church would take the challenge of impacting the Songhai people for eternity through prayer.  We know that you and your church may often be praying for us and we thank you for those prayers and desire for you to continue offering those prayers for us.  However, this request goes one step further allowing us to partner with you or your church members in deep prayer for the Songhai each day.
All we need from you is the name and contact information of the person interested in becoming a prayer warrior for the Songhai people.   If they do not have an e-mail address, a mailing address will be acceptable.
 
We are currently designing a prayer tool box for our prayer warriors, complete with names, pictures and information about many people in our villages, and the names and pictures of actual villages in which we work to help guide the prayers of these people.  This prayer toolbox will be sent to our prayer warriors before February 1st 
 
We look forward to hearing from you and are excited about partnering with many of you in prayer for the Songhai people.