I received a call from a friend last week letting me know that he was praying for me and the work that I was about to do. Two things struck me about that call: first, my friend was Malagasy; second, the work that I was endeavoring to do was humanly impossible…for me.
When I submitted to a life as a missionary to unreached people I never expected such deep, iron-sharpening relationships with Malagasy believers so early on in the journey. I envisioned months, if not years, of tireless labor before sharing this type of spiritual brotherhood. But that is exactly what I encountered here in Madagascar. I labor alongside Malagasy brothers and sisters who are passionate about their Savior and His life changing gospel message.
The work, on the other hand – while invigorating and encouraging, has stretched my faith beyond any other point in my spiritual pilgrimage.
Last week I held an evangelism conference. This may seem like a reasonable if not expected work for a missionary to do, but there are several reasons why this is laughable at this stage in my missionary career. First, I speak Malagasy like a 3 year old speaks English. Its simple, inaccurate, and laugh-out-loud funny at times. I use a lot of hand motions, pictures and grunts. Think caveman.
Regardless of my inadequacies, I sensed God was leading me to this work at this time. God gave me a vision for reaching the Masikoro people which I put into pictures so that I could easily share the vision without the use of complex Malagasy words. Also, there are a number of illiterate Masikoro people who relate better to pictures and/or oral storytelling.
The plan was simple. Gather a group of motivated believers, train them, equip them, and send them out to reach 3 new villages. They would in turn train, equip and send out believers from those 3 villages to each reach 3 more villages who would in turn train, equip and send out believers from 3 more villages. It may sound confusing, but its basic math. If we can continue to multiply by 3, everyone in our region of Madagascar will have the opportunity to hear the gospel message within a relatively short period of time.
Our method for sharing the gospel in those villages would be through storying. Story telling has been used throughout history to pass on important information. Here in Madagascar, its used almost exclusively. As we tested this method in the village of Belemboky I was amazed at how quickly and accurately the listeners could repeat the gospel stories.
Due to the laborious, hard work of previous Malagasy missionaries we had twenty stories already translated into the Masikoro dialect. These stories, beginning with Creation all the way through to the story of Christ’s resurrection, were the tools used to share the gospel message.
This example was the template for our evangelism conference. Beginning on Saturday and ending the following Thursday I watched as each student began to catch the vision and grow increasingly impassioned to reach their own people.
The cast for this drama was small. Four pastors, one former witch doctor, one formerly demon possessed man, two women, myself and a guy named Stan.
In the following posts I will share our story.