Thank you for your prayers and support while our team was in Africa. There is so much to tell that I am not sure its possible in one note. So, I thought I would start unpacking what happened by telling a few quick little stories of what happened there.
When we got there, the rice harvest was in full swing. It is so serious some people sleep in the fields after working all day. Because of all this harvesting, there were not many people in the town. So, we went to the fields to work them and meet the people. Ever seen white people working a field in the middle of Africa? Neither had anyone there and it wasn’t long until there was a buzz about us in the fields. We got to speak with over 30 people in 3 hours of working the fields. The analogy Jesus uses in Luke 10:2 is better understood when you see how countries harvest which is so different than how we harvest with machinery. If the rice is not harvested fast enough, the rice dries out or it is weighed down enough for the field mice to get it. When they harvest, they cut each individual stem by hand with a small but very sharp paring knife. So, harvesting takes close attention to each stem and has to be done at the right time. Working in the fields with the people helped us better understand their culture and helped emphasize to the people in the fields that we aren’t tourists, we are there for them.
The workers being out in the harvest also let us spend more time with the church pastor there then we have ever been able to spend before. We learned his story, his passions, his plans for church planting in the region, the struggles that his people face, and how we can help. When we arrived he was a bit discouraged and by the end he was very encouraged, loved, and ready to continue a push for the Gospel to be declared while being persecuted. With every trip we take to West Africa, the pastor and church members become stronger and bolder. We were able to have the church memorize four stories, Jesus’s birth, Jesus’s baptism, assurance of salvation, and the miraculous healing of a blind man. Several people in the church will share them with friends and we saw that even within the week we were there.
God is sovereign. I knew this before, but God really strengthened my understanding on this trip. God was sovereign to help us successfully and easily get to the town we are going to. None of us had ever been to Africa, but we found the way to be easy and uneventful. God helped us understand what we were doing there and happily led us to the places we needed to be. God protected us and kept us healthy when we went outside the box on what we were “supposed” to do and did what was needed to be able to talk with and be with people. And finally, when all of our plans fell through to get home, God gave me this verse: “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” (Acts 18:9, 10 ESV). We were surrounded by Christians who wanted the best for us and helped us change travel plans, figure out how to get home, and one great man who took 5 hours of the toughest part of the trip with us to help us. God is indeed sovereign and we learned to live by that more than ever.
God is great! Thanks for your support and prayers throughout this journey.