This weekend's plans for Christmas decorating changed suddenly when Pastor Youssouf arrived Saturday morning with news that an old Christian woman had passed away the night before and that the funeral was to happen that afternoon. Wanting a good showing of believers in this village where there are few converts, Lisa drove our car to deliver church benches, the coffin box, and two loads of church members to attend in this village about 4 miles out of
town. The family wanted a Christian funeral for their "mama", even though they weren't sure what that should be like.
There were many, many people there from all walks of life, and Pastor Youssouf and the other village pastors did a good job of leading songs of hope and encouragement about our faith in the Lord and our rejoicing when one of His "goes home". There was singing and preaching, then the interrment, and a meal.
Here is a picture of the burial from where Lisa was standing.
We are doing well here in Mali. God is good. So many things are happening. One of the believers died in a village church, and the village allowed a Christian burial.So that meant the churches were in charge of all the funeral stuff. (No funeral parlor/undertaker out here.) So they did. A funeral is a great time for witness in Africa. People say they won't become Christians because they''ll have to die alone. But when a funeral happens and a hundred or more Christians come to the village, singing, and dancing, and proclaiming the joy of the Lord, it is a huge witness to all those watching. So Saturday night, Sunday night were like that. They went on in true Mali style until 5 am this morning.
One of our believers was at a nearby cafe this morning. The men there were talking about this village, and how this old woman had died, but the Christians have been at her house, singing, and proclaiming the joy of the Lord both Saturday and Sunday. He said that the love the Christians were showing the family were really encouraging to him, he would consider being a Christian too. My friend revealed that he was one of the Christians at the village last night,
and that he was Dogon. The village is Senoufo. These are two people groups that have very different cultures and customs. Once again, the stranger was flabbergasted. "Now I've heard everything!" He said. "You are a dogon, and you went to a Senoufo village last night to take part in a funeral. Truly, you show the love of Christ."God is at work in Mali, it is visible here.
***This morning in church, Pastor Youssouf announced that this evening there will be a service of rejoicing and preaching, singing and dancing to share the Gospel in this village. He told of a young man in that village who recently converted and has faced persecution from his family. They wanted to kick him out of his home and village, but his mother spoke for him out of love and said that she still wanted him close. His uncles are ready to send him off, since
his father is not around. Please pray for him and another young believer in that village who are facing difficult situations because of their faith in Christ. It is again encouraging to see that young or old, people are coming to faith in Christ.
Youth Group : Two weeks ago, we organized a youth party to bring together the old members and new arrivals to the youth group. Coming up to Christmas, the group practices for their participation in the Christmas program and all-night party, so regular youth group meetings are put on hold until after the New Year. Here is Tom's picture of the group that day
after we'd played games and had snacks together. Tom's message for the group was that whether you have been around awhile or are new to the group, everyone is equal in value and welcome, and that we encouraged each person to get involved in either the choir group which Freddie leads, or the drama group, or in another way. The next day, we were touched to see most of the group singing in the choir, including one who has been drifting away
from the church recently. Please pray for their deepening faith and walk with Christ. Many students have exams this next week, too.***
Director's visit. This week we hosted our mission "boss" and his wife for a couple of days of interviews with all the missionaries in Kadiolo and Fourou. It was fun to play games together, but we were also encouraged by their comments after we told our stories and shared our challenges in ministry. They could see that the overall ministry God has lead us to
here in Kadiolo really fits who we are. They could see thating we touch many lives through all the activities and relationships in which we engage. That was good to hear from someone outside of our normal life looking in.
Pain turned to blessing
I've been a bit out of action this week. I had a gout episode the week before and it finished well. But during the episode I was out and about a lot, and somehow twisted my ankle. I'm not sure when, because I was in pain anyway, so new pain wasn't so obvious.I'm mentioning this because of the blessings we have recieved this week from our African friends, both church
members and neighbors. So many have visited, and prayed with me. Each one with such kindness.One man came with a cream to rub on my ankle. Then the next morning, Bamba, our neighbor came by with some linament he uses on his cows. He insisted on rubbing that on my foot. It took me a moment to recognise the opportunity and need to be humble and allow both these men to show compassion for me in this way. It was like experiencing a footwashing, where you want to say "No, let me wash your feet instead." But the right thing to do is to
allow these friends to minister in this way. Today, the whole youth group came over to pray with me, and then the womens' group came over, too. What a blessing to experience their love and care in a very African way; a visit, and a prayer, and a blessing.
Thanks for stopping by!
Tom & Lisa Seward