Merry Christmas!! In this season of the year as we remember Christ coming to Earth as a baby, it is hard to not think of the Songhai. In those hot and dusty lands there is no joy of Christmas and the celebration of God with US. They know only darkness, fear and a god who is against them. The Good News on the Dusty Road is there will be Christmas celebrated by a handful of believers this year for the 4th time. Thanks be to God and to you for your sacrifice and diligence.
We wanted to catch you up on what is happening on the Road. Our team returned in November and much behind the scene planning and re-tooling has been taking place. Songhai team leader MP has been working hard to help us make the jump from all evangelism to church formation/discipleship and our exit – leaving, we hope, Songhai churches on the Road. To that end he sent the following report and plan that I am sharing with you.
I asked L and A to talk about each village. What they saw God doing, where He was working the most, the status of the believers in each village, etc. It became clear that KK and T are the 2 Villages they believe have the most potential for a church.
[K had some success but it seems that whole group of teachers has been sent away.]
With all this info gathered my proposed plan for 2011 for them and First Hurst is as follows:
* L & A both spend 3 days in KK and 3 days in T each week.
Together, they will gather the believers on a consistent basis EACH week for discipleship while laying the groundwork for church. They will be in that village for a couple days also to spend time with the believers and also to continue evangelization. However, the focus is to establish a consistent meeting time and place each week for Bible Study.
* They will have 1 day each week that they can travel to the other villages to touch base with believers there and remain in contact with the village as a whole. However, this will not be a focal point of their ministry.
* They will strive to stay on the road for 8 weeks at a time [Instead of 3]. I will be coming to them 1/month to meet with them, minister alongside them, and give them their pay and any messages from FBC Hurst.
* L, A and First Hurst will use the Entry 2 Exit program to evangelize, disciple, and start churches while preparing the national believers for their imminent departure. The goal is to work L & A and First Hurst out of a job!
* The 2nd and 3rd mission trips of the proposed 4 trips by FBC Hurst in 2011 will be to assist them in church formation in these two villages.
That is the basic outline of the plan I came up with. And here's the reasoning behind it:
* Discipleship anywhere (but especially here) takes time and consistency. If they are trying to cover 5 villages church formation will be next to impossible. If they had a truck and the road was good, this MIGHT be a consideration but even then, it seems to big a job.
* Good to Great principle. I feel they could continue as they have been doing a lot of things okay. However, instead of that, I’d like to see them do a couple things really well.
* I think this will help us be the most strategic with your teams that you're sending.
I feel since church planting is truly our end vision, that this is the best option for making that a reality.Thanks so much - MP
After prayer and working through all of this, Kimberly and our team feel really good about focusing on T and KK as our church locations. We will direct ALL future teams to these cities only starting with our late spring 2011 team.
Please continue to pray for the Songhai; the work of God on the Dusty Road; God to call men and women to go to Africa in 2011; L and A as they shift there work no the Road; and MP and PP and their kids in Niamey this holiday season. Merry Christmas and God Bless.
Wow, I can't believe it has been 2 months since I posted on the blog. The summer has brought heat and changes but also God's faithfulness in outlining His vision for the road. Here is what we know:
1. The new Niger Songhai Team leaders will be in Niamey this month. I am withholding their names, but many of you know them. They are awesome and we SOOO glad for their service. They will act as our contact for all future trips and strategy co-planning.
2. L & A are fine. When they are Niamey [one week off a month] from Discipleship on the road they email a lot. They continue to meet with the small groups of believers and seekers on the road faithfully each month. First Hurst sent $ to them this month to continue preaching on the radio from Village M - thanks First Hurst for your budgetted mission giving. They go once a month and record and it is broadcast several times each week. They have been working with a young "scholar" they call him in M who heard the gospel on the radio and sought them out. They continue to need our prayers and support.
3. We are trying to get a team together for Fall 2010. We are working on partnering with a Christian ministry out of Nigeria to have Christ Focussed health and econcomic teaching and training sessions in Village M. This is something L has asked for us to do and it awesome that the door is open. Can you go?
4. Base Camp - First Hurst will host its first Africa Base Camp Training time run by the IMB, October 8 and 9, 2010. Many of us have been to Base Camps before as we have learned to work in Niger, but this is the first time to have it at First Hurst. More details to follow!!!
The work and mission continues. As Galatians 6:9 says "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Keep on praying! Keep on going! Keep on caring about the eternity of the 100,000 + lost Songhai men, women and children on the Dusty Road!!
A told us a funny story. He and L preach on the radio in Village M once a month. Then we pay to have it broadcast on the station several time each week during the month. Last month A went to the station and paid the station director for the air time. He asked if the man would make an introduction to the preaching. He asked if the man knew his name. The station director replied yes, I will make the introduction and yes, I know your name - everyone in the village knows you name. A left the station feeling good about the situation.
The next day A tuned into the radio station at the time the program was going to be broadcast and he heard the folllowing introduction, "Now we are going to hear some teaching from a name named Hallelujah." A laughed and thought that was so funny and so did our team. When the believers gather in each of the towns they being their "service" like we do with singing and prayer. They sing different songs with the words Hallelujah in them. The people in the villages know the believers in Christ are gathered when they hear Hallelujah or in Hebrew "praise Yahweh - the true God" being sung in the village.
We had a laugh in Village T after A shared this story some women started yelling Hallelujah as we walked by. We told A that was going to be his nickname. We are sending him a Dallas Cowboys jersey with the name Hallelujah on it in May - he is going to love it. A pretty good nickname if you ask me!
Walking the well worn paths of the men and women that live on the Dusty Road made me think of our next steps as a church in Niger. Many, many Songhai was heard the gospel for the first time in the last four years and dozen have received Christ as their savior. They are walking the path of the Life for the first time. Much as been done! However, the Songhai IMB team as well as our church leadership feel First Hurst is not finished on the Dusty Road. I agree.
1. As I write we have four signed up for our May 2010 trip. We need to be in prayer for this team NOW and their work in Niger. Besides storying and clinic work they will be continuing to seek God's will for our future in Niger.
2. L & A have agreed to stay on and work as our disciplers on the road through the end of the year. Please keep these guys in your prayers. They spend three weeks a month on the road working with the believers and seekers groups in all five markets towns. The cost of keeping both of them employed on the road for year is about the same as sending two American team members. Beside being called and anointed teachers and church planters, they are good stewardship for our church.
3. Be in prayer for the IMB Songhai team. With the strategy coordinators retiring we are not sure who will be the official team leader. We feel it is critical for our work on the road both from a accountability stand point with Laoually and Abdjramin and from assiting our teams that we need a team leader for the Niger Songhai team in Niamey. Keep praying specifically that all the details will work out and God will send the people he wants to do that job.
4. Over the next year our church will start to send smaller teams to do more discipleship and church training/formation type stuff. Remember essentially none of the Dusty Road believers can read. They have never seen a church in any way shape or form. We have been teaching them in story form from the Bible what church is, etc. We have had to really watch our American church tendency to make their churches look like ours. God is creating an African Songhai church and it is cool. Our hope is to bring the believers into a retreat type setting and teach them intensely for 4-5 days. This way they can focus on studying the Bible and not have to worrying about distractions.
5. Pray, pray, pray. We cannot over emphasis the importance of prayer in all of this. The darkness of Niger and the false gods the Songhai as worshipped for centuries will only change by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. Keep lifting the believers and seekers you have read about or know by name each day. Keep praying for the prayer children you adopted for prayer. Keep praying for the Ancient Gates to open to let the King of Glory in.
Keep on steppin,