On the morning that the terrorists attacked the Hotel Radisson Blu which was just 5 kms from our guest house, I had risen early and written this reflection. I was planning on posting it on that very day but the sheer miracle of God’s protection in the midst of this terrible act took precedence. Please continue to pray for us!
It’s early morning in Bamako, Mali. You can taste the dust on your lips, feel it in your eyes and nose. The doves are singing endlessly in the Nim tree outside our veranda. A rooster crows like clock-work off in the distance. Mopeds and dilapidated taxis scurry outside our compound. I’m sitting in the guest-house of the Summer Institute of Linguistics. Wycliffe began this ministry decades ago, giving life and literacy to thousands of languages all over the world. I’m sitting on the couch where missionaries have sat who have taken an oral language and, 15-20 years later, have handed them a Bible or New Testament in THEIR language.
So why do I do what I do? Plain and simple: relationship. I am consumed with pouring out my life– and the biblical truths I’ve learned over the past 40 years of following Jesus– into the lives of my African colleagues.
Yesterday concluded our three-day conference. We had eighteen participants, fifteen men and three women. They traveled from distant cities like San in Mali and from Liberia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burkina Faso, Togo, Ghana and even the USA. The trainers were Evangelist Isaac Gyesaw from Ghana, Rev. Dr. Esaho Kipuke from Democratic Republic of Congo (now residing in northern Togo), and myself. We focused on our core values of intimacy with God, integrity, stewardship, and family priority. As we began the conference many of the pastors were bemoaning the fact that their families have fallen apart and there is a desperate need to rekindle the passion to restore our families, not just those in the room but in the entire country.
Yesterday I wept at the close of our conference. On Wednesday I had given a simple talk on Stewardship and I essentially said, “All that we have really isn’t ours. It’s God’s and we need to start using all that we have for HIS purposes and HIS Kingdom.” I shared a story of how just the day before, Isaac Gyesaw had accidentally found a $100.00 bill in his passport as he was traveling to Bamako from Kumasi, that he didn’t even know that he had and he felt compelled to give it to me for Catalyst for Africa. Many of the Mali leaders were touched, seriously moved by this.
At the end of our conference one of them, Benjamin, who had been a former Muslim and a fetish priest, said, “We need to take up an offering for “Le Blanc” (“The White Man”). He said, “I’ve never given money to a white man and now God has changed my heart. It is about the Kingdom and God needs to change our eyes so that we give when the need arises.”
That group of pastors and lay leaders are more than just poor; these men and women have never owned a car, and most of them have never owned a new pair of shoes, and have to buy used ones from the market. All of their clothes are second-hand, except for very special occasions. Still, they gave over $110.00 to Catalyst for Africa. Never has that happened in my 32 years of doing ministry on this continent. God is touching hearts, transforming minds, and compelling people into new Kingdom ministry.
I live and die by this. We are changing the world, in Jesus’ name, one relationship at a time.