A week ago Joel made a trip down to visit some of our missionaries who are ready to move and begin work among a new people group. He went down with another member of our leadership to speak directly with the leadership of the village about what our missionaries where there to do and if they would welcome them to their village. During that time we were blown away by the God we serve and wanted to share some of that with you.
However to explain this well, let me back up again. Less than a year ago we sent this family down to a town surrounded by villages of the people group they were targeting. They had already done 2 years in Dakar integrating into the church and learning French. It just so happens that the pastor of the church they were going to was from this same people group. So he put them in contact with his sister who was also living in this same town. Yet besides that, they went down not really having any connections down there, yet hoping in a short time to research the villages around and figure out what village they were to work in. There were so many unknowns about how or what this work look like, but our God is good. This one contact they had put them in contact with another man, who we will call Luke. Luke works with mediation to keep the peace between the different factions in the area. Luke became a huge resource to them as they traveled around and visited these different villages. He himself is not a believer, but he became an advocate and a friend to our missionaries.
Now a village has been chosen and our leadership is coming to facilitate our family moving into the village. They started with meeting Luke and asking about meeting the religious leader of the area. This man is very important. He has a literal throne in his living room where he has audiences with people much like a king would. This is a man who could make life very difficult for our family. However, as they arrived and Luke introduced them and they explained who we are and what we want to do, the leader was very welcoming. It turns out that Luke works closely with the leader and often acts as his representative. Our missionary’s relationship with Luke had created an open door. The leader even went to the extent of saying that if they have any problems, all they needed to do was come to him and he would work them out. Our leadership explained how our goal was to translate the Holy Scriptures and to teach them to the people in their language and this religious leader was in agreement with that – Praise the Lord!
Next was the visit to the village leaders where the same explanation was made. In the village as well Luke had a lot of influence and that resulted in a very warm reception, with even the offer of a house that could be used by the family so that they could move in faster. What we were blown away by was how God had been working from the beginning by connecting this family with Luke. They went down with almost no contacts, completely blind, and yet God directed them to the person they needed. Now they are coming in with a highly respected advocate on their side and are warmly received, not because of who they are, but because of this connection they have. All of this was outside of our control, but not outside of God’s control. It was so encouraging to see that God is at work and sometimes in ways that we can’t see until we are down the road and can look back and see how he was placing each piece together.
This is only a beginning. Their advocate has opened the door for them and now it is up to them to earn the right to teach, by first allowing themselves to be taught and changed. This will be a long a difficult road for them I am sure. However, a good beginning makes a world of difference. We are praising God for how these doors were opened and are hanging on to this reminder of the God we serve for the rough days that I know will come.