It’s finally time! After more than a decade of waiting and preparing, it’s now time for us as a family to move to Madagascar and join God’s work there. We’ll be leaving in late September or early October at the latest.
It was 1999 when God gave me a vision to go to Madagascar. At that time I had no idea where in the world it was or what I was supposed to do there or even when to go. Just the place: Madagascar.
Since then, I’ve waited on God and followed him where he’s led me. I’ve met my wife, Lora, and together we’ve started a family. Our son Matimu was born this year and is now almost 3 months old. Together, we’ve been through all sorts of training and education and a million different experiences in work and school and every-day life, all preparing us for this moment. And after all those years, now the time is here!
I don’t think you can quite understand just how thrilled and excited we are for this very moment. Those of you who’ve known us longest have surely also known that this has always been our plan. And it’s included many challenges and obstacles along the way. We especially want to thank all of you who’ve stood by us in those trying times. This plan is not a childhood dream or a distant wish. It’s a career goal, it’s our life goal. We’ve worked hard to be as prepared as we can for it and we’ve been slowly but surely inching closer. And now it’s time for us to go!
Though it wasn’t the most direct path we could’ve imagined, every step along the way has been getting us ready for now. We’ve both been public and private school teachers of all ages of students; one of my degrees is in “Missions”; we’ve both had the chance to learn and use multiple languages; and recently we’ve returned from a very successful 2 ½ years as Peace Corps Volunteers, living and doing development work in a rural South African village. We achieved success through cultural integration, hard work, endurance, and God’s help. We now possess a wide range of skills and experiences that will no doubt be invaluable to us and the people we’re working with/for, as we make the move to Madagascar and spend many future years living and working there.
In Madagascar, we’ll be joining a group called Youth With a Mission (YWAM) Tamatave. They’re located on the east coast, in Madagascar’s major port city, Tamatave (aka Toamasina). With YWAM Tamatave we’ll be part of a church-planting and rural development team that works up and down a nearby coastal river. The team, like the rest of YWAM Madagascar, is comprised almost entirely of Malagasy people who have a heart for bringing the abundant life of Jesus to their families and fellow countrymen.
So far, the YWAM Tamatave team has planted 47 churches and has started 31 rural clinics, all of which are now led and managed by the villagers themselves. They, with us, have plans to further the development work among the rural Malagasy people, including projects in micro-business and education development. The work we’ll be participating in is one of empowerment and multiplication, it’s a work that brings new life to rural Malagasy people and gives them ownership of it so that it can continue to grow and spread. So it’s as participants and co-workers that we’ll be bringing what skills and experience (and hard work) we have, knowing always that this work isn’t for us, but it’s God’s work, and it’s so that the Malagasy people can share the abundant life given to all of us in Jesus.
But before we join that, we’ll both need to be trained in the Malagasy language, since most Malagasy people, especially rural villagers, speak no language other than Malagasy. There are no Malagasy language schools or lessons outside of Madagascar, so it’s something we’ll need to do in-country. We’ve already picked out an excellent Malagasy language teacher in the central town of Antsirabe, who’s just waiting for us to arrive so that we can begin lessons. We plan to continue our language lessons with her for about six months, until we join the YWAM Tamatave work in June 2012 and we’ll then continue developing our language skills informally, as we work.
But in order to do any of that, we need your help. We’re asking you now if you’d join with us as we go to Madagascar and spread abundant life there. There are many ways you can join us, but the two we currently need most are prayer and finances.
We know that many of you have already been praying for us for a long time, especially as we were working in South Africa. We ask that you’d continue to pray for us in Madagascar, as the work we’ll be doing is in many ways tougher and some of the personal risks are even higher. And the Malagasy people need your prayers too, as they face the constant difficulties of life there, and that they would be open to the work God is doing around them. Please let us know if you’ll commit to praying for us, our work, and the people of Madagascar.
Some of you have also helped us financially with a scholarship fundraiser we did in South Africa and we really thank you for that. But we didn’t need other funds at that time because Peace Corps took care of all our basic needs. Unfortunately, Peace Corps doesn’t accept Volunteers long-term and they don’t accept Volunteers with children, so staying with Peace Corps is not an option for us in Madagascar. But now you can make financial contributions which help us to live in Madagascar, participate in God’s work and fund our rural development activities.
We’re not independently wealthy and Madagascar’s economy (one of the poorest in the world) is insufficient for us to support ourselves solely through “tent-making” efforts. We’ll never charge the Malagasy people anything for the work we do among them and with them, nor will we ever take up a collection from them for ourselves, so that the Good News may be to them entirely free, just as it was freely given to us (2 Cor. 12:14-15). So, without people just like you participating in our work by supporting us financially and sending us to Madagascar, there’d be no way that we could be the “bearers of Good News” (Romans 10:14-15).
Not that any one person has to give a whole lot. Any amount is greatly appreciated and with everyone together it will be enough for us to continue this work. We welcome even one-time gifts to help us with the transition. But what we really need the most are monthly commitments, of any amount, as it helps us better prepare our finances from month to month.
Our goal is to keep the burden on our supporters as low as possible. Thankfully Madagascar is cheap to live in and the Good News is entirely free and can be endlessly multiplied. Similarly, passing on skills and training while developing local resources costs very little. Therefore, the budget for all three of us is only $1500 a month. (If you want to see a specific breakdown of where the different costs are allocated, you can look at our budget here.) That includes all of the money we need for food, shelter, local transportation, language training, a health savings account, supporting local Malagasy ministry, and even plane tickets to visit America for a short time every 2-3 years.
We’d love for you to be a part of sending us, and therefore, of going with us. Any good thing we’re able to do for the people there will be in part because of you. It will be impossible without you.
We’re also becoming ordained ministers by our home church in Tulsa (Emmaus Road Church) and they’ll be sending us out as missionaries. They’ll also be helping us to manage our support and any donations to our work can be made through them, 100% tax-deductible. With both Emmaus Road Church and YWAM, there are no management fees or costs, and so any support you want to give us and our work will go entirely for that purpose. For more information on how to give, look at our website here, or you can write us back and we’ll give you more details. Please let us know if you plan to support us monthly, as it will greatly help us determine our overall finances and make our final preparations to leave.
Whether you can support us financially or commit to prayer or not, we’d still love to keep in touch with you. We plan to send these same newsletters/stories out on a regular basis while we’re in Madagascar, just like we did in South Africa. And your letters/e-mails/phone calls to us in future years in Madagascar will continue to be just as invaluable to us as they were during our few years in South Africa. Thank you for standing with us in the work we do. Through both our triumphs and our failures, we’re glad to share them with you.
Finally, we have a new way of keeping in touch for any of you who want to use it. We’ve just finished our website that holds all of our news and stories; it also has more frequent short updates (through social networking), lots of photos and more. Please take a look at our website here and feel free to check it regularly:
www.madmissions.com – (you’re looking at it)
Thanks again for following our journey and especially for participating with us!
Adam, Lora, and Matimu Willard