Most of these photos were from when Lora’s sister, Heather, visited us in Madagascar in April-May 2012. We spent time in Tana, Antsirabe, and moved from there to Tamatave, stopping to see some awesome animals along the way.
(06/01/2012, 116 Photos)
Today was our last day with the discipleship group in Antanamazava, so we finally got some group photos! It was a really nice time today but also bittersweet. After our regular time of sharing a Bible story and discussing it, we had time to lay our hands on each member of the group and to pray for them personally. Afterwards they prayed for us.
They told us that since we've begun to meet regularly with them in their village, that God has really transformed their lives and empowered them to seek him personally. They also said they'll really miss us and asked if there's some way we could contact them in the future, but unfortunately still none of them have cell phones. But we'll definitely stay in touch through Nuckiline, who will be continuing the work in our absence.
Nuckiline is also committed to training some of the group members to take a stronger leadership role just like hers and to find ways to be more personally involved in their lives and thus disciple them at a deeper level as well. Earlier this morning when we prayed together with Nuckiline, she prayed that there would be an opportunity in the future for us to pass by again, or even just to call her on the phone, and that she'd have the privilege of sharing with us the news of so much fruitfulness that God has done through her and the people of Antanamazava. Please join us in prayer for this to come true one day! And please pray that God would continue to strengthen and encourage Nuckiline, that she would grow stronger, more passionate, and more committed to this work even in our absence than she has in our presence. And pray that God would give her wisdom and insight for any new efforts (in the Ambilobe area or in other places) that she should begin in the future.
Jean-Luc (on the far right - the man who's been driving us to and from the village for several months now) is going to visit his family this weekend in Nosy Be, and he's very excited to gather all of them together and share with them all of the Bible stories that he's been learning in our discipleship group for months now. We made sure to provide him with a full copy of our Antakarana story set before he left.
We plan to share a fuller update soon with more details on the transition time ahead of us. But for now we can say that our leaving is definitely God's leading and we're excited to see what lies ahead! ... See MoreSee Less
We were able to go back to Antanamazava today after being away for several weeks! We had a good time with the group there, though several regular members of our discipleship group had traveled to another village for a local meeting.
One thing that was very exciting was hearing how a couple of the group members have already begun leading others in discipleship group meetings on their own over the last month! This is a huge answer to prayer and the sort of "reproduction" (that can lead to multiplication) that we've been hoping to see for a very long time now! It was funny because these two ladies were very nonchalant about it, like of course they were leading others in discipleship groups (the same kind we've been modeling for them), since it's simple and effective for helping them know God better and draw closer in relationship with him. They took it as a matter of fact that they could and should be doing that. So we then encouraged them to encourage those in their new group that they can also start sharing with others and leading others in discipleship groups as well. We hope and pray that God will bring multiplication through these new and faithful disciples of his in Antanamazava! Thank you to all of you who've also been praying for this with us for many months now!
Also, one of the ladies was able to share a praise report that her home life has become very peaceful now. Another lady in the group wanted to clarify that before they've always been fighting constantly and struggling very significantly in their home. But after praying together in our last meeting together, and after being convicted to work on that area of her life based on the last Bible story we shared, she said that since then they've smoothed things out and she's now had a very peaceful home life thanks to God's help. It was exciting to hear that!
We also discussed with the group some of the things that's happened in our life recently, and told them it's possible that Lora and I will be moving somewhere else very soon. They were all very sad about that possibility, but we pledged to be together with them at least one more time, next week. Nuckiline also pledged to continue to visit them regularly and to continue the work with them going forward.
It's been so exciting to see what God has done through this small group of faithful disciples over the last five months or so. He's answered many of our prayers in regards to them! And though God seems to have reduced our own direct involvement significantly, nonetheless, I believe he's been happy to use us as a catalyst to begin what we trust will be a very fruitful group of disciples that will multiply the work even further and reach more people than we ever could.
This picture is from near sunset time on the main bridge over the Mahavavy River on the way back to Ambilobe this evening. There was a nice (though short-lived) rainbow, and people went about their normal business washing clothes and bathing in the river. ... See MoreSee Less
Sorry about the silence we've had here for a few weeks! We were away from town for one week, and upon returning we were immediately in a safety/security crisis for our living situation here, that has targeted our family. All week we've been dealing with it, talking to the relevant people, praying, trying to get to the bottom of it and figuring out what decision to make about what will happen.
So far God has not resolved the threat to our family and we believe he's not asking us to stay in this place and endure that threat. There are also no other local means or authority that can reliably remove those making this threat in a way that is peaceful and righteous. So, we need to leave our house here in a very short time period.
We have no idea where we will go next nor what the future holds for us in this area nor regarding our direct involvement in the ministry here. The thing Jesus has been most clear with us about during this time is that no matter the outcome and no matter where we go from here, he is with us and we are with him. God has made it clear to us that this is his burden to bear, it's his work to continue and to bring to completion.
So, we will spend the next couple of weeks praying and seeking God for direction, and looking for another place to go, whether here in this same area or elsewhere. Please pray with us, for our family's continued safety, and for God to give us clarity about the next steps, so we can make the necessary decisions with boldness and confidence. We thank God that he's already filled us with peace about what's to come! Once we've arrived at any decisions we'll let you all know here. ... See MoreSee Less
Sorry to read that you are in a threatening situation. Praying for safety and protection! That God will lead you to a safe place quickly 🙏🏻
Praying for your family, for safety, clear direction, and continued peace. 🙏 Praise God that He is always there, He is in perfect control, He knows what He is doing, and the outcome will be for His glory!!
We have been praying for you through this whole time. What a trial you are going through. I am so thankful you have a peace about how God is in control and the ministry and situation is His burden to bear. Not only are we praying for you, but we are praying for this family who is clearly bound. Praying that the Light shines through you to penetrate their hearts. No matter what, though, God has a good and perfect plan through it all. We love you guys and pray for you! And, we certainly miss you!
Praying for direction!!!
Praying God gives you a clear path. Proverbs 3:5-6
We just heard today that one of the teachers at the public school in Antanamazava died in her sleep last night. We don't have any other details, but we're sure that it's a distress on the community there, so please keep them in your prayers, that God would give them peace and draw their hearts to him.
We've also learned that for the time being, no more local transport is being allowed during the afternoon hours. Unfortunately, that's during the time of our discipleship group in Antanamazava, so we won't be able to continue it (with our presence) for the time being, as we rely on local transport to get to and from there. It's not clear if this is a covid-19 restriction or something else. But we thank God that we've had a few weeks to encourage the group there now and also times for them to become used to the idea of continuing in our absence. So we pray that they will be bold and empowered in the Holy Spirit to continue discipling one another with what they've received so far, and that this would also be a catalyst for them to start new discipleship groups in their community and beyond!
Please also pray generally for Ambilobe and the surrounding regions regarding covid-19. There are a lot of rumors going around and it's hard to know what is true, but we've been the second hardest-hit in our region so far, including at least a few cases in surrounding villages. Rumors are that they've run out of coronavirus tests here and yet many people are still sick. Please pray that people would take appropriate precautions, and that God would pour out supernatural grace to protect the vulnerable people here. ... See MoreSee Less
Our discipleship group in Antanamazava went well this afternoon! We covered the story of Jesus casting out the demons known as "Legion". Though we didn't have as many people as usual at the group today, those who were there really participated well. Everyone had an opportunity to lead the group in prayer, and shared well about what they learned from the story.
The way we translated this story into the local language, we used the word for the most common type of spirit possession here - "tromba". (They actually have different words for multiple types of spirit possession, because being possessed by various very bothersome or even extremely malevolent spirits is a very common practice among the Antakarana.) Everyone is familiar with someone they know (usually many people) who've been possessed by one (or more) of these types of spirits. So they were all very interested to hear a story about Jesus's response to them.
Most were just amazed about how the spirits automatically left when Jesus told them to. They were also impressed how it was very simple and didn't require any elaborate ritual. They also remarked about how completely the man was changed after the spirits left him, and how the transformation that Jesus makes in people's lives is obvious to those around them. One lady in particular said she's going to tell this story to all sorts of people, so that it can also sink deeper into her own heart and God can continue to work in her through it. Another lady said she wants to tell more people about the good things God has done in her life, just like how Jesus instructed the man freed from the demons.
Afterwards, we saw a couple of the regulars who weren't there at the meeting. We had left a copy of this story with them while we were gone the last few weeks... so they could look at it and prepare ahead of time if they wanted. They already knew the story by heart and retold it right then and there in front of a group of several other people! It's exciting to see how much this group of disciples treasures the stories they've received so far, and how they go back over them constantly to commit them to memory.
We won't be there next week as it's a time the community is very busy preparing for their children's school exams. We encouraged them that when they have even just a bit of free time they can go ahead and meet with each other (some or all of them) to pray for each other, retell the story to each other, and encourage one another. We also encouraged them that for anyone who's interested, they can gather them in their own groups and lead them through discipleship meetings just like we've been doing for them. What encouraged us about that is that this time no one acted too shy at all about this idea or like they wouldn't have the skills or social position to do this or anything like that. We believe the Holy Spirit is really empowering them and showing them how he values them, and how he has a place for them in his work!
Please pray that leaders would emerge from this group, those who are bold to share with many others and who start to disciple others as well. Pray that they would begin to form as a true church of committed believers. Pray for us to know how best to encourage and train them in these areas, and to know who specifically we should focus any extra time or effort on (if anyone).
I was also able to share quite a few chili peppers from my garden (some habanero, some ghost chilis, and another type that I think is pepperocini) because I've been harvesting far more than I can use. Everyone was also very happy to divvy those up between them! ... See MoreSee Less