Handing over the baton

The youth (singles) at Living Water Baptist Church decided to do a 4 day VBS.  Through the years, we (My wife and I and also Vicente and Gabriella Garcia) have lead many different VBS’s with many of these same youth helping.  This year was different.  They planned and ran things mostly without our help.  They did ask me to teach one day and my wife to do the verse one day.  I think they were only honoring us because they are fully capable of doing everything without us.

Each day they had over 200 children come.  I was so impressed with all of them.  I am so proud of them.  They taught well and lead well.  I sat back and watched most of the time.  This isn’t what I am used to, but I was filled with great joy as I watched the God of Heaven use their lives.  It was a beautiful thing.  Many children made professions of faith.  After the singing, Bible verse recitation, lesson, and review questions were finished, they took all the children to a schoolyard  that is close to us and played games with them, rewarding the children with candy for winning a game.  Most children here never get a chance to play games like this, so they absolutely love it.  It is quite evident that the members of LWBC have taken the baton and are running with it.

 

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New chapter beginning

We are seeing a chapter in our ministry closing and a new one opening.  Our time at Living Water Baptist Church is coming to a close.  I will still encourage them, but it is time for us to move on.  We are in the process of finalizing a new house to rent in another neighborhood of Ouagadougou called Zagtouli.  We have lived in our particular house for 10 years now.  We could stay where we are and be comfortable.  We love the members at LWBC with all our hearts, but it’s time to start another work just like LWBC.  Pray for us and also for Jason and Charity Rishel (our teammates) to find a house in this new area. 

We are also praying that God would provide the property for this new church plant.  We are excited about this new possibility and a new chapter in our life.

Please pray for Pastor’s camp this week

Last year we had one of the greatest times I have had since being in Africa at Pastor’s Camp.  We have invited a special guest from the Ivory Coast this year.  Pastor Aké and his wife will be with us.  He always challenges us greatly.  We will start tomorrow and finish up on Friday morning.  Please pray for God to bless greatly.

Camp 2016

 Last week 120 of us travelled to a boarding school just outside of Ouagadougou to participate in the 9th youth camp of the Mission Baptiste Fondamentale (Fundamental Baptist Mission).  It started Monday night with a bang and finished on Saturday morning.  There around 100 young people (with a few older ones mixed in) divided into four teams.  God has allowed us through the years to develop a great youth camp.  The four teams battle it out all week, and we have one winner at the end.  They play physical games  (soccer, volleyball, relay races, etc.) and spiritual games (sword drill, memory verses, biblical questions, etc.) in order to win. 

Since I was in the States, the pastors organized most of it before I arrived back.  I am thrilled with their leadership and desire to serve and please the Lord.   I had the privilege to preach every night except one when Jason Rishel (new missionary to Burkina Faso, Amen!!!!)) preached. 

There were three that were born again.   One of those was, Debora, who has been in our church since 2007.  She said she was in another church before ours and a friend told her to come down to the front.  A pastor told her to repeat a prayer.  She asked my wife, “What if we repeated a prayer for salvation but we didn’t understand what we prayed?”  I praise the Lord that she understood and prayed to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior after a morning message at camp.  We had many young people give their lives to do whatever the Lord wants them to do.    

Even though not every team won, we all left winners because of what God did in our lives and hearts. 

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Buying food for camp in the market.

Pastor Salif preaching and Pastor Justin

Pastor Salif preaching and Pastor Justin translating.

Youth Choir from Living Water Baptist Church singing.

Youth Choir from Living Water Baptist Church singing.

Some of my friends.

Some of my friends.

 

 

 

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Ready to win no matter what!          Suit and all.

I think the kids are having a good time.

I think the kids are having a good time.

The altar was full.  Praise the Lord.

The altar was full. Praise the Lord.

The winners for the week.

The winners for the week.

We are back and back online

What a thrill it is to be back in Burkina Faso.  It has been a long time since I posted.  Actually I haven’t written an update on here since before our furlough.  We had a great furlough.  God really blessed by allowing us to visit many churches that have partnered with us and even some new churches.

It has been great to see what God has done in the ministry in our absence.

  • I visited Pastor Salif in Pissila.  I didn’t have a long time with him, but I was thrilled to hear about what God is doing there.  He was extremely excited about the men that have started coming.  We have greatly struggled in this particular area.  We are excited about starting to build the dormitory for this location.
  • I also visited Pastor Konaté on the same day as he and Pastor Salif are about 25 min from each other.  He also told me of a new couple coming to church recently and also a man and his children.  I saw the completion of phase one on the church building there in Kaya.  Thanks to Wahoo Baptist Church for their generosity.  In 2015 the VBS raised over $4,000 and a lot of that was used to build this part of the building.  Much to my surprise, the 2016 VBS  at Wahoo raised over $4,000 to help in the work.  We will use this to start phase 2.  This will be to build the main auditorium.  We will be able to build the foundation of church building.  It will take around an additional  $10,000 in order to finish phase 2.  Please pray about this need.
  • Living Water Baptist Church continued to grow in our absence under the leadership of Pastor Justin.  Today he held a leaders meeting.   As I sat back and listened, I was amazed at his maturity in teaching, the unity he has brought to the leaders, and the vision that God has given to him.

One of the greatest areas of growth in the last year or so has been in the youth choir at Living Water Baptist Church.  I might be partial, but they have some of the greatest voices in the world.  They are some of the greatest young people in the world also.

Pastor Justin preaching.

Pastor Justin preaching.

 

The Youth Choir.  Some were missing.

The Youth Choir. Some were missing.

The Choir in Kaya practicing after Church.

The Choir in Kaya practicing after Church.

 

Phase one of the church building in Kaya is complete.  Praise the Lord.

Phase one of the church building in Kaya is complete. Praise the Lord.

 

Mooré Bible College growing!!!!

3 years ago, we started training a few men in a village near Pissila called Roungou. These three men felt called into the ministry. I have often said that our task is to take who God gives us and train them for what God calls them to. These men are villagers and don’t speak French. They speak in their tribal tongue, Mooré. Not only did we have a language barrier, but these men didn’t have an education. They couldn’t read so the task in front of us was great. How do we train these men? Even though we are learning and constantly revamping the program, it has been great to watch these three men grow in their faith.   This year we have a total of 6 students.

There is no way that I can fully express to you what God is doing in this region. We started in Roungou in 2005. Pastor Salif moved to the market town called Pissila in 2012 and started a church there. Since then God has opened up three other villages to us in the region. Some of these villages had never had the Gospel preached in them. We have seen hundreds of these beautiful people trust Christ as their Saviour. There are over 60 villages that surround Pissila and we are wanting to reach all of them.

God gave us five acres in Pissila a few years ago. Last year we built a small room that is used for church and a classroom. Earlier this year God allowed us to drill and hit water.  We are in need of building two dorm rooms for the Bible College. One room will be for the pastors (professors) who will travel in for the week to train these men and the other for the men in training. The churches are coming together to gather the sand and rocks that are necessary to build. Would you pray that God would raise up around $4,000 in order to build these two rooms?

Macedonia Bible College

Macedonia Bible College

Men’s meeting at Pissila

A few months back, I was preaching at a new village work near Pissila, where Pastor Salif is laboring. This was the second time that I preached there. The first time about 30 woman and children made professions of faith.

The second time we went there about 150 people came out. Old men, young men, old women, younger women and children were all present. I preached on finishing our course. At the end we gave an invitation to receive Christ, and it was much like the first time. A few woman and children raised their hands. No men raised their hand or even made a move. This isn’t the first time that this has happened, and it certainly won’t be the last. We are always thrilled when anybody puts their faith in Christ but not having one man (even a young man) to make a profession indicates a problem. The older men were thrilled by our presence and said they enjoyed the message.  They even gave me a few chickens as a symbolic gift. They are not against their wives or children making a decision, but it seems like many of them don’t want to make that decision.  I have heard them say that they are bound to stay in the religion that was handed down to them.

While dodging bushes and trees in the dark traveling back to Pissila, I began to express my concern to Salif and Dominique ( a young preacher in training). I asked them if they noticed that not one man or young man made a move. An idea came to me as we had this discussion. Let’s have a special men’s meeting in Pissila and invite the men of the four villages we are working in to come.

We didn’t know how it would turn out, but we were thrilled when teenagers and men came from these 5 locations. (Pissila and the village works) We had over 50 come. We started one afternoon and finished the next afternoon. We were able to teach or preach four different times on the role of the man in the church. We divided into two different groups, and we played many different games. Everybody seemed to have a great time. We plan on doing this again.

 

 

Men's meeting in Pissila

Men’s meeting in Pissila

Having fun playing games.

Having fun playing games.

Baptists can't have fellowship without food.

Baptists can’t have fellowship without food.

When the villagers are happy with your visit they will normally give you chickens.

When the villagers are happy with your visit, they will normally give you chickens.

Coup d’état in Burkina Faso

On Wednesday, September 16th, I spent most of the day with our pastors and youth in a special music seminary. I came home in the late afternoon and got cleaned up to take my wife out on a belated birthday date. (Rebecca, on her actual birthday, went on visitation, went to ladies meeting, taught three teenagers discipleship courses, and went to youth meeting. I am so proud of her and how she puts others before herself.)

We were going to drop our kids off at our teammates’ house (the Knickerbockers). As we began to pull out of the garage, my guard stopped us and said that the president and the prime minster were taken hostage. We are currently in a transitional government here in Burkina Faso. Last year the dictator was kicked out, and we were supposed to have elections for a new president on October 11th. The general population was happy, thinking that they might actually have a chance for a true democracy. I immediately went by the church to see what our pastors knew. They gave us confirmation of the hostage situation. I asked one of them what we should do. He said, “Don’t go in town; it is better to go home.” I was very disappointed for my wife as she was looking forward to going out for days, but we went home instead.

That night things began to get crazy. The population, mostly youth, tried to take to the street but the Presidential guard (those responsible for the coup) came out in force. They fired their guns in the air, and would beat many of the youth. As youth fled, the presidential guard (PG) burned their motos. All the radio and television stations in town were shut down. They even managed to destroy our DSL system. The next morning, a coup d’état was confirmed. For days the battle between youth and the PG group continued all over town. I even watched from our roof as men from the guard began to beat some youth that were gathered across the field.

After many days, the military decided to come from all over the country. The PG is an elite group of 1,300 members, and they are by far the best trained. They also had the best weapons, but some of them began to realize that they didn’t want to be a part of what was happening. Probably more than half of them fled. The army gave the PG an ultimatum: surrender or a fight would start. The leader of PG decided that his goal wasn’t to create a civil war, and he decided to talk with the military leaders. The PG was told to begin to turn in their arms and those that were responsible for atrocities would be judged.

I was on a trip out of town last Monday and Tuesday. Monday evening we heard that the PG, after turning in some of the arms, decided they didn’t want to turn in all of them. I got in Tuesday Afternoon to excitement. I had finished dropping somebody off when all of the sudden I heard a noise and my car shook. I looked around thinking somebody hit my car. Then I arrived home and stepped out of my car and heard a huge boom. The military behind our house was firing off some heavy artillery. We heard many more shots. The military went into the PG base and secured all the arms Tuesday evening. Things seem to be back to normal. Thanks for those who have been praying for us.

Some things that have touched me from the situation:

  • I am amazed at the Burkina people. Last fall they united and ran off the dictator. They destroyed only houses and things that were from those who were part of the corrupt government. In some of the recent months in America, we have seen people in some of our cities strike over situations, but they were out of control. They looted, destroyed things they shouldn’t and even destroyed their own neighborhoods. The Burkinabes stayed very controlled, and they even called a special day to clean up the roads and damages.   I am proud to be called a pastor to so many of these great people. I have a deep respect for their fight for true freedom and democracy.
  • My wife has amazed me through this. We have seen many foreigners who were scared and tried or wanted to leave. Many said we needed to pack our bags, but my wife said, “Why? We aren’t going anywhere.” She asked me over the course of a few days, “How could we leave these people during the time they need us most?” You see, over the last 10 years of being in this country I am no longer just a missionary to these people. Yes, Americans consider me a missionary, but I am a pastor to these people, and my wife is a pastor’s wife. Somebody told me the other day that my skin color hasn’t changed but my heart is Burkinabe. I have to say that makes me smile.

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Video of the well in Ying-Toako

I have written and showed many pictures of the work in Ting-Toako in the past.  I created a short video of what God has done and is doing.  I hope that the video will be a blessing to you.  Thanks for your love prayers and support.

Pastor’s camp – One of the most profitable events since coming to Africa

Normally when we plan an event, I try to imagine how everything is going to work out. Usually things come up a little short of what I imagined; pastor’s camp this year far and I mean far exceeded my expectations. This camp is a time for the pastors and their families to be challenged biblically and also a great time of fellowship. Of all the pastor’s camps we have held, this one was by far the best.

 

A few months back, I was with a few pastors discussing the camp. I had an idea of what I wanted to do, when one of the pastors suggested that we talk about marriage and family. Recently, he had translated some premarital counseling sessions for me and said, “My wife and I never have heard that.” The other pastors joined in and said that it would be helpful.

 

It is hard to explain how much of a struggle the relationship between an African man and his wife is here in Burkina Faso. Most of them grew up in polygamous homes. They never saw much interaction between the dad and mom. One pastor told me, “I have often wondered how I am even here because I never saw my dad and mom together.” They aren’t affectionate; kissing, handholding, and hugs are VERY uncommon or just about non-exsistent. At church a man doesn’t sit with his wife but with the other men. Many men have told me that they have never told their wives “I love you”.

 

With these circumstances in mind, missionary Vicente Garcia, his wife Gaby, my wife, and I went to work planning. The closer the time came to leave, the more excited I became. It was clear rather quickly that God had arranged the teaching and plans.

 

We decided to have competition between the couples. Many of the couples have never been involved in couple’s games. In between all the teaching and preaching we had games where the couples had to work together. The first place, second place and third place teams would all get a basket full of goodies.

 

For three days they competed together. You can see some of the games in the pictures below. I have also uploaded a video of two different game. One was to see who could eat the donut the fastest and the other is a game we call “rooster.” It was a blast to watch the pastors try to pop each others balloons as their wives cheered them on.

 

Wednesday night we decided to have a special meal to honor the pastors and their wives. I believe they are more important than the president of this country. Their calling is greater and their purpose far exceeds that of a president. I told them that if the people knew their value then they would be the richest people in all of Burkina Faso.

 

I had asked them to wear their best clothes, and we decorated the straw hangar that we used for our meals. Then, we had a special candlelight dinner. We had a completion with the men. They were to pick out three to four verses from the Song of Solomon and read/act out them to their wives. It was hilarious. Then we asked the woman to share five to ten positive things about their husbands. Wow, were we ever shocked! The woman told their husbands how wonderful they were and how proud they were to be married to them. As I stated, kissing isn’t something most couples do here but I had a last and final game to see which couple could kiss the longest. I figured some wouldn’t even start and most would last a few seconds. Boy was I wrong. 8 of the 10 couples stayed lip locked for 10 min. I finally had to tell them to quit. During these three days, we witnessed God do things that most could never imagine happening here in Burkina Faso.

 

We had a special time of renewing of our vows. I have never done this in the past and have never been a part of a service like this, but it was so special to watch each pastor and his wife openly promise their loyalty to one another. Their vows were just as strong as and stronger than on their wedding day. I was also touched to be able to renew my wedding vows before my Burkinabé brothers and sisters and also my children. If I could go back in time I wouldn’t change a thing. God gave me the best helpmeet in the whole world.

 

I am sorry for rambling. I could have given much more details but wanted you to see a little glimpse of what God is doing. I wanted you to see what a huge step forward this is for our couples in the ministry. Many of the pastors told me a few days after that they felt like they were married all over again and that they had a new start. We are thankful to all of those who make it possible for us to be here and to the Creator of marriage for enabling us to impact the lives of such wonderful men of God and their families.

 

Trying to be the first to finish a donut.

Trying to be the first to finish a donut.

 

Musical chairs and the wife had to sit on the husband's lap.

Musical chairs and the wife had to sit on the husband’s lap.

 

Water balloon toss was fun to watch.

Water balloon toss was fun to watch.

 

The kids had a great time also.

The kids had a great time also.

Trying to open and eat a pack of cookies without using their hands.

Trying to open and eat a pack of cookies without using their hands.

The game called rooster.  Pop the other man's balloons before he does yours.

The game called rooster. Pop the other man’s balloons before he does yours.

The women have a time watching their husbands try to win rooster.

The women have a time watching their husbands try to win rooster.

The pastors trying to put lipstick on their wives while blindfolded.

The pastors trying to put lipstick on their wives while blindfolded.

The woman trying to tie a tie on their husbands and the man can't touch it.

The woman trying to tie a tie on their husbands and the man can’t touch it.

The quality of the photo isn's great but it is a great photo.

The quality of the photo isn’t great but it is a great photo.

Pastor Salif reading out of the song of Salomon to his wife.

Pastor Salif reading out of the song of Salomon to his wife.

Our special meal together.

Our special meal together.

The winners of the week.

The winners of the week.