“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He s a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews ll:6
“Therefore since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1,2
The word of the year for 2012 is ENDURANCE. As we enter into our later seasons of life, we desire to be found faithful, running with endurance the race God has placed in front of us. At times the tasks in front of us seem overwhelming and the desire to take it easy, slow down or even quit is a temptation. We are praying that as long as God leads us to stay in ministry, we would run with endurance and finish our race well.
TRIP TO MADAGASCAR
On January 9th we headed to Madagascar with the goal in front of us to set up 12 Motorcycle Sunday Schools (MSSM). We have two bases in the country, one up north in the city of Mahajunga and one in the south in the city of Vangaindrano and it is a three-day journey between the bases. We landed in the captial city of Antananarivo and spent two nights. We spent an entire day shopping for two motorcycles and a copy machine for the MSSM ministry. We ended up buying two 250cc Chinese-made bikes with good mud tires and heavy duty shocks. The replacement parts are inexpensive and readily available. The day after shopping, we headed north to our base in Mahajunga which was a 14- hour drive. Although, the day was long, the scenery was beautiful. We spent the next eight days training five young men in riding motorcycles and teaching Sunday schools. We had an enjoyable time in training as well as encouraging our national staff running the base. We fell in love with the staff children and had a difficult time saying goodbye.
Following training, we packed up and traveled three days south to our base in Vangaindrano. Madagascar is rich in agricultural resources and we saw cinnamon, saffron, vanilla, black pepper and cashews growing alongside the roads. The people of the north are mainly Muslim or Christian while the people of the south are steeped in animism. Many of the people in the south are involved in witchcraft and the worship of ancestors. It is a dark place in great need of the Gospel light.
Our first morning in Vangaindrano, we prepared for our trip into the bush via motorcycle to set up the locations for the Sunday schools. Tom drove and I rode behind as we bumped along, going through streams, across rickety bridges and into deep potholes. It was very muddy and once we ended up laying in the bushes alongside the road. We laughed so hard and then found a way to lift the bike back up and continue on our way. As we arrived in each village, children poured out to see who was riding the motorcycle—they were always surprised to see a white lady. As our national staff people gathered them together to explain our plan to bring Sunday school, they got so excited.
Along with Sunday school we will be doing a literacy program to teach reading and writing. Many of the children in this area are too poor to attend school so they were so grateful to hear they will finally have the opportunity to learn. The homes were basically wooden huts and many of the children were malnourished. In one village they insisted that we needed refreshment, so a couple of young boys scurried up a tree and brought down fresh coconuts. Quicker than we could imagine, out came the machete and we enjoyed some coconut water. Although we were quite sore from the ride at the end of the day, we were so blessed to have met these dear ones and encourage them.
Lord willing, the boys will get their driver’s licenses in the next few weeks and then the Circuits can begin running and the Gospel message can be shared. We appreciate your prayers for these young men as they get this ministry started.
After a month in Madagascar, we flew to South Africa and spent seven days at our base there. Tom helped trouble shoot computer problems along with plumbing and construction issues. It was a blessing to encourage the Bible school students and staff. We did take an opportunity to go on a safari at a nearby game park. Tom had not been on one since 1986 when we visited Kenya. We had a beautiful sunny day and saw elephants, giraffe, lion, zebra and many other animals. On our Sunday in the country, we attended a church that the national Boot Camp teams had built. The pastor was a lovely man and quite grateful for the help in building a place of worship for his people.
We appreciate your continued prayers for our children. Kalah graduated from college on December 16th and by the 18th she was hired as a second grade teacher at an area school. She loves teaching. It is a blessing for us to see her doing what she loves. Zach started back to school in January taking courses for a career in the medical field and he is also still working at an area deli. He is doing well with school. Daniel is working with a pool-cleaning company and really enjoys it. He is planning to go to community college in the fall.
Tom and I are back into our office routines. Tom continues to work with computers. I still work in our International Operations offices and am teaching in our Bible school again after a year off. I do enjoy working with our students. We have received all the needed funds for Tom’s hearing aids and are looking into the best one for him. Thank you all so much for your prayers and your giving to make this possible. What a blessing this will be for him.
Thank you for your faithful prayers! Thank you also for your faithful support! You are all a wonderful blessing in our lives and ministry. Many lives are being changed as we partner together to proclaim the Gospel.
We plan to take a team to Cameroon this summer and then spend an extra month in country to check on our work there. We will give you more details in the next newsletter.
The Lord bless you. Tom and Linda
– Safety and good health during our time in Madagascar and South Africa
– Provision for Tom’s hearing aids. – God’s faithfulness
– The start up of the MSSM program in Madagascar. – The Lord’s blessing and watch care over our children. – Endurance to handle the tasks in front of us.