Christmas In Mali
It's going on midnight on Christmas Eve, and my heart is so full with God's heart, so overwhelmed, overflowing with the Father's love for those kids. It's hard to put it all into words.
Today we had a day of prayer and fasting – how unusual, I know. I've never fasted on Christmas before (in fact, it's only the second time ever I'm not in Vienna with my family). But this is all so God. Even a year ago, on New Years Eve in Vienna, God spoke to me that I would be in Mali this year, ministering during this special time of year. Little did I know.
In the evening, Simeon (my "son) and Sekou (his "son", therefore my "grandson") came over to pray and celebrate Christmas. They have now become my most faithful and closest team. My living room – our meeting room – already looked different than usual, with heaps of clothes ready to be handed out to the street kids tomorrow. In the middle of the room a big mat to pray on, even prostrate. When they came, we lit my (only) two candles, I took my guitar, and we started worshiping God and inviting Holy Spirit to fill the room with His presence. We only had an hour, as Simeon and Sekou had told the street kids they'd pass tonight at a certain time. So we finished worshiping and started out on our long walk to where the kids spend the night (please keep praying for a car!!!). I kept praying on the road, knowing already that my heart would be torn by those kids. These days, I'm unable to pass by any kid without my heart overflowing with love for them.
Now, listen to this. Simeon and Sekou found this place where about 80 street kids all spend the night together, outside. They each bring "home" a piece of wood so they can light a big fire and not be so cold during winter (Dec-Feb – but right now it's unusually warm and not cold at night). But the amazing thing is this:
I remember a night about a year ago, when I still lived in the apartment closer to school. I went on the roof one night, looking around and praying for Bamako. My eyes were drawn to a nearby place on my road, where I had seen kids before and wondered whether they spend the night there outside. That night it was cold, and I could hear the kids coughing. It broke my heart and I prayed fervently for them, longing to just go over, talk to them, and pray for them. But I didn't at the time.
Well, it's that very place, those very kids, God is now allowing me to minister to. Wow! My heart was really touched when I realized that.
So, tonight, we finally arrived there and the kids started surrounding us, all wanting to shake hands. My heart was already overflowing and I shook all their hands, asking for their names. These are boys between 8 and 15. With my little Bambara, and the help of Sekou, my interpreter, I started talking to some. They all have the same story. Their parents send them – because of lack of money and/or religious reasons – to a Muslim teacher, far away from home, where they are beaten, hardly given food, and forced to beg for money for their teacher all day long. Many run away and find themselves all alone on the street. These kids here kind of found each other, sharing this place to sleep.
I asked for the oldest, and for the youngest, and for the one who's lived on the street the longest. One kid, who was fourteen, has been on the street since he was ten. The youngest was 7 or 8, his name Idrissa. His parents are in a village a day trip (by car) away. They sent him to a teacher in Bamako, and Idrissa has now been a street for a month. This little guy has captured my heart in a special way. I've been thinking since of how I could help him, what I could do. Oh God!
I asked the kids whether there were any sick, and told them we'd also pray for them tomorrow. One 8-year-old, Salif, said he had bilharciosis (correct English name?). I prayed for him right then and there. Then another boy came and showed me a huge open wound on his leg. When I lightly put my hand on it to pray, only touching the skin around the wound, blood started running down his leg from the wound. I told him I'd help him when he comes tomorrow morning (I wished I knew more about medical stuff). I'm also planning to get medication for the other boy to give to him.
Finally we left the boys, reminding them that at 4 p.m. tomorrow Simeon would come to show them the way to the House where they'd receive a meal, sing a song with actions, hear the Christmas story, get prayer and get some clothes. The missionary community in Bamako has been very generous, including the American school of missionary kids who collected clothes for us to give away. We have over 300 pieces – more than enough.
Please pray for us tomorrow/today, the 25th. Pray for God to send his angels to help us, to protect us, that no spirit will be able to rise up. It's no little thing to have over 100 street kids, who are used to lying, stealing and who knows what else. God has already given us wisdom in how to do the distribution, and thankfully we will be a handful of people. Pray for the love of God to touch every heart, for the glory of God to come down and change lives.
My heart is torn, as I wished I could do more for these kids. And I do know, this is only the beginning. Yet again, I'm unable to do anything without God's people catching the vision and partnering with us. We're in desperate need of partners who will support us on a monthly basis, as well as those who choose to sow a one-time gift. Could you be the one? Do you want an eternal reward from the harvest in Mali?
Coming back from the kids tonight, we continued our time with the Lord. Nothing more needed to be said; we entered straight into a time of intercession for the kids, my heart torn for them. Some time later I read the passages telling us of Jesus's birth, and then we took communion together, in candle-light. It was really special. I prayed for both Sekou and Simeon and returned to my prayer mat, all three of us lying prostrate before the Lord. Finally I pulled myself away, as it had gotten pretty late, unable to speak many words because of His holy presence in the room, and said good-bye to my team until tomorrow afternoon.
Please remember also our healing service on the 31st of December. We will be showing a one-hour video of my trip to Malawi with Todd Bentley last year, with dozens of healing testimonies, to build people's faith, before praying for the sick ourselves.
Finally, I wish you a wonderful Christmas season that is as fulfilling as is ours here in this far away land. May He bless you abundantly!
For my beautiful Jesus,
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