Pr. Herbert and Desiré leading prayer for Fidel
Ann with Moisés, Márcia and a Ghanaian student at the seminary where Moisés teaches
Sharing a meal of peanut-okra stew over rice around a common platter with Andréia and community leaders
Ann preaching at the church in Có (above). What a joy to worship the Lord with God’s family in Creole, French, Wolof, Portuguese, and English!
The drumming was fantastic!
We’re looking good now in the new clothes Ann brought us
This was one of the defining moments during my (Ann’s) recent pastoral visit to our Brazilian missionary colleagues in Senegal and Guinea Bissau, West Africa. Herbert, Desiré and many others quietly and courageously share the good news of Jesus Christ in a spiritual-cultural context hostile to the gospel. Belief in amulets, capricious spirits, evil spells and the ability to injure or kill others through curses is common in both countries. People live in fear of displeasing the spirits or their neighbors. Jesus’ message of sacrificial love, forgiveness and the transforming power of the gospel stands in stark contrast to those fears.
What kind of spiritual context do you live in? We westerners worship many “idols” as well, and our rituals are no less strange. Remember the thousands of people who stood in line at 5 a.m. on Black Friday to get special deals on an HD television, the latest video game, or just to get their hands on a Zhu Zhu Pet? And while the spiritual climate in the communities I visited caused me great sadness, I was struck by the fact that it felt much safer on the streets of Dakar and Bissau than in Belo or Seattle or Philadelphia.
Please remember Fidel in your prayers and all those who are desperate for hope in their lives. Ask God to strengthen and protect Herbert, Desiré, Geny, Natã, Henrique, Rose, Samuel, Larissa, Reuben and Rebecca in Guinea-Bissau as they reach out to the people in their community through a clinic, church, orphanage, school, and hospital. Please also remember our JAMI colleagues in Senegal: Moisés and Márcia, Josué, Ana, Glaucimar, Celso, Andréia, Samuel and Daniel.
May we all be more like Fidel as we celebrate Jesus’ birthday in just a few days – committed to knowing Jesus more deeply and sharing his love with our family and friends, perhaps even at the risk of their disapproval. Our family is also remembering that Fidel’s name means “faithful,” and how faithful you have been in your support for us and our ministry during 2009. We are grateful to God for you!
Feliz Natal (Happy Birth)
Ann, Bruce, and Asa
Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil