A Cloud of Witnesses

…a scene of dust and blood, of body parts strewn haphazardly, some still twitching, disjointed, bleeding out. Not one piece is connected to another and thus the entire body, broken apart and moments from death, lies collapsed in the sand, unable to move, unable even to seek help.

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The Rest of God

God is simply reminding us that our roles are limited. He’s giving us a gift of rest and he’s reminding us that it’s him, and it’s always been him, who will bring this work to fruition. And when God works, it is always good.

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When Things Fall Apart

Sometimes, even in ministry, everything just falls apart.  The foundation has crumbled, the walls have collapsed, the seed has rotted, and the sprouts are choked by weeds and burnt by the sun.  Sometimes by the end, there’s nothing to show for our years of efforts.

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Working for a Harvest

Like our friends in the fields we must always be alert and ready, mud sticks in hand, for what might devour what we’ve sown. We must always keep watch and reinforce any weak parts of the fence. And like them, we must fight this battle together…

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A Light In the Darkness

Our headlady told us about the time the spirits which possess her forced her to run halfway across the island on swollen knees, running so fast that no one could catch her, then made her crawl around on all fours and start acting like a cow.

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Heading Back

In just a few short weeks, we’ll be heading back to Madagascar! After nearly 20,000 miles of travel in the US it’s finally time to return and rejoin the work of God in reaching the Antakarana people on Nosy Mitsio…

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Video Introduction

Watch this video for an introduction to the Antakarana people and our work among them

Latest News

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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.
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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

Mitondra am-bavaka anareo! Jesosy hitantana anareo amin'ny lalana tiaNy alehanareo!

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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.
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Prayers for the area and for y’all.

Whether or not we can reschedule our discipleship group time to the morning hours (if the people will be available at that time) is something we'll need to look into further.

🙏🙏🙏

🙏

1 month ago

Willards in Madagascar - www.madmissions.com

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!
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1 month ago

Willards in Madagascar - www.madmissions.com

We visited Antanamazava again this afternoon, but instead of holding a discipleship group like usual, we visited some of the people at their different homes and discussed life, listened to their testimonies, encouraged them, and prayed with them. We really enjoyed that time with them today!

It's been an interesting time for all of us (for Lora, Nuckiline, and I) these last couple weeks, trying to discern what God would have us do in regards to Antanamazava right now, especially since two weeks ago, we all felt him leading us not to go that week, and then we all felt the same thing when praying the following week. We've been wondering what the underlying reason is for the Holy Spirit delaying us, and we've felt that it could be a time where God is strengthening them to rely more closely on him (and not on us). And we speculated at possible circumstantial reasons also.

Well, today we learned that over the last two weeks there were a couple of deaths of relatives of some of the main disciples in Antanamazava and they were busy with the various funeral arrangements for much of that time. One of those funerals was near an area with a confirmed covid-19 case, and it seems there's a bit of a cough going around now also, so we're not sure if that has anything to do with it. (We continued to wear masks as we visited people today, but no one here is used to the idea of wearing masks when people come to visit them.)

But the really nice part was hearing some of the people's testimonies about how God has continued to grow them and transform them even over the last couple of weeks! One lady in particular, who until now had been very reluctant about going to share the Bible stories with anyone else, has now started sharing all the stories with her students, with relatives, with friends in different areas, and even on the telephone with a friend living a long way away. She said she's not holding a discipleship group or anything, but she's now very excited to just tell everyone she can the stories she's been learning! (It sounds like the story she shared most frequently has been the one of Jesus healing the lame man who was lowered through the roof of the house.) It was so exciting to hear that she's gained this boldness to share with others in our absence, and that her sharing has gone far and wide! We pray that she could begin to make other disciples soon and lead many people to become followers of Jesus!

Another lady shared that she's really become strengthened in her understanding of how important community living and loving one another is, how God has been teaching her that and really helping her love others and maintain relationships that she previously found very difficult. Another lady also shared that her and her husband constantly go over the story of David being chosen as King over and over and over again. She said that even after all these weeks, it still amazes her how God chooses the lowest person who would never be expected to fulfill a role like that, but God chose David because he values even the lowest.

And in general, many of them shared that they feel like they've had a great "awakening" in their spirits and that they feel their lives becoming changed... one older lady sharing how great it is that even when people aren't around or there's no one to meet with, or no matter where she is, she can pray to God and bring her concerns and hopes to him and be encouraged that God is listening.

Our tuk tuk driver (the one who's been excited to join our discipleship groups for the last couple months) shared about how he was away last week in a different area, but the work was really good for him and he believes God blessed him with that. He was also sharing about how he was praying for a new tuk tuk to drive (the old one was having lots of mechanical problems) and just a day after he returned to Ambilobe, someone called him and offered him a new tuk tuk to drive! He really believes God answered his prayer in that and he's very excited to be part of the discipleship group. He said he's still trying to arrange a time for many of his friends to start a group in town.

So, even after being "absent" for two weeks due to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, we see clearly that God's work does not stop. Sometimes there are events that we're unaware of, and other times he actually needs our *absence* to do *his* work (not *our* work) in other people's lives. In all things we need to listen to and depend upon him to fulfill the work of his Kingdom. And we participate in it as much as he privileges us to do so.

So, please pray that the coronavirus situation would be halted in its tracks here in our area (though currently the spread seems to be increasing). Pray that everyone in the discipleship group and their families and communities would be protected from this virus and other health challenges. Pray that God would continue to lead us with wisdom to know what our day-to-day involvement is in his work with his disciples in Antanamazava. And pray that God would continue to strengthen and embolden his people there in Antanamazava, that he would grow them and empower them as messengers of his good news, as bold disciple-makers, and as leaders of a movement for God's Kingdom in this area!
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