Beloved People Of Mali
Dr. Claudia R. Wintoch
April 4, 2004



Sévaré, by bus 11 hours northwest of Bamako...

The moon was shining brightly which allowed me to see the faces of the people sitting in front of me - the little boy Boubakay they wanted to send to Bamako with me, Koumba the older sister and Ada, their Mom, holding the baby practically every Malian Mom has at all times. And there were a few more women and men. Most of the men were milking the cows which were closeby, easily visible today thanks to the moon. There were also sheep and goats, and the "house" was clearly visible as well. These people lived together with their animals, having basically nothing (certainly no electricity), in a village outside of Sévaré. But the little they had they shared with me. One of the men came with a calabash of freshly milked milk and handed it to me. I took a few sips of the warm milk and said "it's good" in their language. They told me to take the rest with me. I understood. Their language - Fulfulde - had been my second African language at university. And I had always had a special love for this people, the Fulani. They have a special place in my heart.
At that moment, I was glad I had revised my Fulfulde in the afternoon. Thanks to modern technology, I always have my class notes with me, in the computer. I hadn't used Fulfulde in a long time, but looking at the vocabulary and notes, I quickly remembered. Now I was sitting on the mat - which they made themselves out of leaves - in the moonlight, using the words and phrases I had remembered in the afternoon. When I asked them a question, they laughed - and answered. When I'd make mistakes, they laugh, and I with them. And I learned a few words and expressions, though there was a lot I didn't understand. These people certainly don't understand French, and don't even understand Bambara, the most important Malian language. Later another Fulani lady joined us who spoke a little Bambara. So I was able to ask her how to say certain things in Fulfulde.
Oh how I loved it! The lights of Emmanuel's car came into view again far too soon. I told my new friends I was living for Bamako the following day and wouldn't come any more - but I'd be back some time in the future. I took Boubakay by the hand and acted as if I really took him with me - everybody was laughing, including the boy. Finally I reentered the car, my gift of milk in hand, and rejoined Emmanuel and his friend Jean, who had collected their milk at Emmanuel's father's compound during the one hour I passed with my friends.

I couldn't prevent the sigh that escaped my lips. Nearly every night I had seen them. And nearly every day I had gone out on the street in front of Emmanuel's family's house to be with the people, especially the kids. Kids spend most of their time in the street. Seeing them, I walk over and smiling faces surround me. I start asking their names in Bambara, and they laugh. A whiter person, and she even speaks Bambara! They tell me their names, and laugh when I mispronounce one. Finally they continue their game, or singing and dancing. I sit down on the side of the road, children all around me (sorry, no picture of that!). They clap, sing and dance. I try to catch the song's words, but it's to fast. I only get one word and keep repeating it. The kids laugh. I ask them to teach me the song, but unfortunately they never did. A little girl comes by, looking at me with big eyes. The other kids push her closer to me, but she runs away screaming. There is still many kids who are afraid of white people. I talk to the other kids, asking if they go to school. One boy tells me with pride he is in an Islamic school. Those students copy and memorize chapters of the Koran and beg for money the rest of the time. I saw a lot of them in Sévaré, and every time I see them it tears my heart apart. Oh Lord, how? How to reach them with Your love? How?
Some kids go home to eat and only a few remain. One of them "my daughter", five-year-old Eunice. She sits on my lap, holding my hands, leaning back against me. How I've come to love this little girl! Eunice is Emmanuel's niece. She lives with her Mom in her grandparents' home, Emmanuel's parents, where I was also staying that week. Just looking at her smiling face, my heart would overflow with love. I cherished our play times together every day. I would whirl her around, make her fly, upside down, and she would just keep laughing and saing "again". Until I was so hot and tired I couldn't any more. Her and I, we were speaking Bambara and French together - she learns French at the kindergarten. I was sad to leave her...

These were my most cherished moments last week. I also enjoyed the time with Emmanuel's Dad and Mom and brothers and sisters. I had stayed 3 weeks with this family 5 years ago, and it was great being back with them again - the kids having grown up, more or less.

And then we went on a one-day trip into Dogon country, which I had so been looking forward to. In 1999 I had only been there for a few hours and not seen anything but a few dances. We were five - Emmanuel and his best friend Jean, as well as two other friends of theirs, as well as myself. Emmanuel borrowed his Dad's car and off we went. We had a wonderful time! With each other, as well as the beautiful countryside and villages we saw. I took a lot of pictures - make sure to look at them!

Saturday night, my French colleague Alice and I started on our long and "courageous" journey back to Bamako, taking a bus we'd be the only white people on. But, I just love being with the Malians, and doing things their way.... I was still glad to finally arrive home at 3 a.m. after minor incidents. Thank you for your prayers - they were answered.

And in Bamako....

Yes, and it seems the Lord revealed some more steps through divine appointments and events, which are pretty exciting. It would be premature to share them with you at this point, but I'd ask you to pray that I would clearly know the Lord's will and recognize what He is preparing and setting in place. I know start feeling that time is getting short, with me leaving Mali in less than two months. Escpecially with those things in the making...

I have not written much over the last two months, as outwardly, not much seemed to happen. However, the Lord is at work. Simeon is growing rapidly and God is putting even the same vision He has put in my heart into his. Simeon is eager to "do stuff" and share the good news. His mother is visiting from Benin in two weeks, and he intends (for me?) to share the gospel with her and bring her to a saving knowledge of Christ.

Simeon also moved into a small apartment/room of his own last week. He could not bear being with the Unification cultists any more. He is now eager to be a light there and having prayer meetings at his place. If you could only see those few square feet - and his few possessions fitting into a big bag. There wasn't even a mattress to sleep on there!


Our Friday meeting this week will be our Easter celebration. Simeon is inviting his two Muslim colleagues Abraham and Abdoul who have been wanting to come. I am going to invite all my students, praying a few will come, as well as other people. I'm planning on preparing something to eat first, and get to know people. Then share what we celebrate at Easter, including the full gospel, and finally ask if anyone has a prayer request. Please pray that those with open hearts will come and be drawn into God's kingdom.
On Sunday, we will take a few cans of powdered milk with us (which is the only milk people have) that have "Jesus loves you" written on it, and we'll visit people in the area, giving them a can and telling them what we are celebrating that day. Hopefully we'll find some sick people to pray for.
To my disappointment, Emmanuel is still in Sévaré and won't be back for that, and we'll only have our French and little Bambara to use. Please pray that God would prepare hearts and guide us to the families He wants us to minister to. If it goes well, I'm hoping we can do this more often.

Could you be one called to Mali?

Are you a teacher?
Do you speak French?
Then these lines are for you....
The school director has asked me to pass on the information to any teacher I know that they'd be welcome to teach at the High School next year. What an opportunity! Imagine if there was another Christian teacher... or maybe a third one...
And I'm desperate for help in the Lord's work - come join me! Teach a few hours at the school, and labor with me to bring in the harvest the rest of the time. It is very possible that we'll be very busy in fall - and I can't do it all alone.

PLEASE, pray for the Lord to send workers into the harvest in Mali. If only a few people loving God could come be a light in this dark place, this country would be different. If only a few would lay down their lives for the many who haven't heard in Mali, this country would be different. If only a few would come share the good news and heal the sick, this country would be different. If only a few would come make disciples, this country could be saved. It only takes a few... He is looking for the few.... Who will answer His call? Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?

The second big need is a car which will allow me to get around, and go into the villages surrounding Bamako. Not far from the capital you find villages like up in Sévaré, including villages with the Fulani people. I have been gathering some information with the result that it will take about 9000 USD (7000€) to purchase a suitable car. I'm praying for this amount to come in by the time I get back to Mali end of September, and trust completely it will. He provides when He calls...

As I said earlier, there is so much in the making that I can't share yet. But I can tell you that the Lord loves Mali, and that He has sent me here for a purpose. Far too often the enemy tries to overwhelm me with the task, or the loneliness, but then I cling to the Lord, hiding myself in His love, where everything else becomes unimportant. And as long as I'm hidden in Him, walking in His love and presence, Holy Spirit in and around me, angels accompanying me, He will take care of everything. I simply walk like a child holding his Daddy's hand and saying and doing what He tells me to.

Please keep holding me up in prayer, espcecially that I will never allow anything to keep me from my sweet times of communion with HIM. The battle is fierce, and tiredness comes easily.... the rising heat contributing (May is the hottest month of the year).

Please remember also Emmanuel and Simeon. Pray that they will get more and more hungry for the Lord, that the grow and be a light.

If you want to sow into the Lord's work in Mali by giving, please look at the details below. There is now also a "buy postage" link in the email for those who'd like to contribute to the costs of sending these emails.

I value your partnership and support and cherish every email I get. In reality, I'm not alone in Mali because you are here with me.

May you know His love and presence and glory in ever greater measures, for the perishing world to see and crave what you have....

For my Beloved,

(Hawa Kampo in Mali)

Ask of Me, and I will make the nations your inheritance. (Ps 2:8)

Dr. Claudia R. Wintoch
  s/c Ecole Biya
  BPE 2165

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