When Jesus called the twelve, they immediately
left everything to follow Him. They left their families, they left
their homes, they left their hometown where they'd lived all their
lives, and they left their jobs, not worrying about what they would
live on. All they saw at that moment was JESUS. All they had their
eyes on was JESUS. HE was the Master, HE would take care of everything.
There was no place for worry of any kind. And the cost seemed to
small when they looked upon His beautiful face. Yes, they gave up
EVERYTHING they had ever known or possessed, but they had found
the treasure, the pearl of great price, that was worth all they
had – even their own lives. And die they did – first
to themselves and their own desires, so that HE and HIS desires
would consume then, and later they laid down their very lives for
their wonderful Jesus, to be united with Him for all eternity.
What was the price YOU paid when you first decided to follow Him?
Did your family turn against you? Did you lose your job? Did you
lose your friends? Were you looked down upon? Were you accused of
having succumbed to a cult?
If you've said yes to any of these questions, you will certainly
agree with me that He is worth it! I myself grew up in Austria,
a traditionally catholic country, where anything not catholic or
Lutheran is considered a cult to this day. For my friends and family
I had fallen into the hands of a cult and I had to bear their scorn
and watch them leave.
In Mali, a traditionally Muslim country (mixed with animism), it
is okay for you to be a Christian – you are not going to be
mistreated, despised or excluded. However, CHANGING your religion
is a crime. Once you are a Muslim, you cannot become a Christian.
You are either one or the other – and that for life. It is
a matter of ethnic group, of background, of tradition, with two
totally different lifestyles.
Muslims love hearing about Jesus – one of their much-respected
prophets – and learning more about Him and His life, as well
as the patriarchs. We have big crowds of people coming to our weekly
movie nights where they watch the lives of Abraham, Moses, Jacob,
David, Solomon, Jesus and the early church, as well as others. They
are intrigued by the teachings of Jesus, and open to reading the
New Testament. Some are willing to follow Jesus – if they
can continue being a Muslim and practicing sorcery and witchcraft.
We have two women in our congregation that have decided to follow
Jesus. Elisabeth is from catholic background (her name already gives
her away as a "Christian"), therefore it is accepted for
her to be part of our church. Aramata is from a Muslim background.
Every Sunday afternoon, all the women of the neighborhood get together
to exchange, help each other, including Elisabeth and Aramata. This
cooperative is very important socially and financially. Elisabeth
excuses herself because she has to come to our service. Aramata
has also done so, but she is now being threatened.
Aramata, from a Muslim background, cannot go to church every Sunday,
in people's eyes. The women have threatened to exclude her from
the cooperative – which would be a disaster for her and her
family, financially and socially. Therefore, she comes late to the
service or leaves early, always being with us for little of the
service or none at all.
Would Jesus be worth accepting the exclusion from the cooperative?
What would YOU do?
Last November, a year after Simeon's conversion, Sekou came to
the Lord through him. Simeon started discipling his spiritual son,
and soon they would pray together every night from midnight to one.
Sekou saw firsthand the wonders of God, and his faith kept growing
and grounding him on the word. On Sundays, he would be my interpreter
in the service, and I enjoyed watching him grow week by week, and
listening to his prayers when we prayed as a team. Sekou and Simeon
soon formed my core team (since Emmanuel had been unable to rejoin
Sekou is a first-year university student. His family is in the
village, but he has an uncle in town, so he lives with him and his
family. A few weeks ago, his elder brothers coming from the village
because they had heard of the problem, the whole family approached
Sekou and told him that he had to choose between them and the church.
Choosing Jesus, he would lose his family, his lodging and his financial
support. Choosing his family….
Would Jesus be worth being losing your own family and only
financial support? YES.
What would YOU do?
Sekou called me on the phone to tell me he would not come anymore.
At first I didn't understand (I didn't know any of this), but then
he explained he couldn't come for anything any more because of his
family. I asked him to at least come by so we could talk. He did.
I quoted the above verses to him, and shared some testimonies to
encourage him. I told him, if he lost his family, we would be his
new family. If he lost his lodging, we would give him lodging. If
he lost his financial support, we would provide what he'd need to
live. I also told him we'd always be there for him. Sekou chose
his family. He said he wasn't gonna stop loving Jesus, praying,
and reading the Bible. I told Him Jesus required EVERYTHING, and
he would not be able to walk that line forever. Choose Him COMPLETELY,
or leave Him altogether.
With sadness, we watched him go.
Are we truly the family of God? Are we ready to take in those people
that have lost everything, paying the ultimate price? All the
believers were one in heart and mind. No-one claimed that any of
his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had
(Acts 4:32). If we are a family, I'll gladly give what I have
for my brother/sister. I will take care of his needs and share his
burden. What would Jesus do? Not only am I the reflection of Jesus
when I act that way, but I'm doing it to Jesus Himself.
APOSTOLIQUE MALIEN (CAM)
CAM is called to the needy and the poor – whether spiritually
or physically. We're surrounded by tremendous needs, yet we keep
giving all we have to show the love of Christ. And too often, resources
seem to run out – whether it be strength, or finances, or
wisdom to handle a situation. All we can do is throw ourselves on
HIM and cry out to Him to provide. We have three families that don't
even have enough money for food – every week we provide them
with rice. One family had a son who was gonna get married, and they
didn't have the means to pay for the wedding feast – a reason
for much pain and shame (especially before the spouse's-to-be family).
Of course, we helped them save face and have a joyful wedding. Our
streets kids come hungry, often without shoes, rags on their bodies,
not knowing love or trust, and our hearts break because we want
to do so much more (and will certainly do in the future).
My guard Seybou just revealed to me that he has a wife and two
kids in his village two daytrips away – something that is
not unusual. Because people can't survive in the villages any more
(droughts, locusts), fathers come to the capital, desperate to find
work and send some money to their needy families. The city is filled
with men willing to do ANY work to just earn SOME money. Seybou
has no problem with being separated from his wife and family –
for him it is simply a necessity; one that leads to numerous other
problems (e.g. immorality). Is there anything we can do to help?
I give all I have – skill, time, strength, love, money –
to these people God has sent me to. Yet I cannot do it alone. There
are those called to go, and those called to help others go. I'm
praying for those who are called to go to Mali to come, and I'm
praying for those who are called to enable me to be here to give.
I'm praying that God would call some of his people to support us
on a monthly basis. My current support covers just about the rent
(and thank you to each one of you!!!) – we could do with 1000$
more a month. And with the growing ministry the expenses grow –
and we've only just got started!!
A quick update of our weekly activities:
ENGLISH CLASS – We have a couple of Muslims
who come more and more to other events, asking questions and wanting
to know more. Please pray specifically for Hassan who was healed
by Jesus a few months ago, that he would make Him his Lord and Savior.
LITERACY CLASS – I'm continually amazed
at the fruit we see from this class. We're building relationships,
while they are learning to read and write for the first time in
their lives. And what a reward to see their excitement as they become
able to read words and sentences, and some time in the future the
word of God! Seybou has asked me for private lessons so he can advance
more quickly, and he is making tremendous progress. I enjoy sitting
in front of the house at night, teaching him, speaking Bambara with
him and others sitting with us. A good number of people want to
still join us – some of them, Seybou is teaching himself in
front of the house.
BIBLE SCHOOL – In a few weeks we will have
completed the first year of FAITH BIBLE COLLEGE in Mali. Simeon
and Simon-Pierre keep studying, writing papers, reading books, and
taking tests, enjoying learning the word of God. Next year, we'll
have at least 4 students. Emmanuel wants to be back, and then there
is a young man from another church, Hyacinthe, who wants to join.
I enjoy teaching those classes, having to spend many hours translating
all the materials into French each week.
MOVIE NIGHTS – We recently showed the MATTHEW
film in Bambara, and will now show the book of ACTS in Bambara as
well. You should see the difference when they are able to watch
the movie in their mother tongue! (and those two movies are word
for word the Bible) In May, we will also show the TRANSFORMATION
video, and have a worship night with worship DVDs and room to dance
and praise the Lord.
SERVICE – The service is different every
Sunday – and I love it! Right now we're doing a series on
the basics of the faith (adapted from the ALPHA course). At the
end of the service we pray for people, and often Simeon has words
for them. I'm glad to say some people have become regulars now,
but we always have new people come. A few weeks ago we had an American
guest speaker, and today Simeon is preaching for the very first
time. My goal is to become "unnecessary", watching the
locals pick up the baton and run with it!
SIMEON IN MOZAMBIQUE
On May 27 Simeon is leaving for Mozambique, to
be a part of Heidi Baker's first 3-month school in Pemba. Before
any of us had heard about the school, the Lord was already showing
Simeon scenes from the school. And then he was the first student
to be accepted, and Simeon started working hard on his English.
We both knew without a shadow of a doubt Simeon would go to Mozambique,
even when there was zero money for his flight there – 3200$
(the amount shows you how far Mozambique is from Mali)(Simeon has
a scholarship for the time there). There is one month left, with
the excitement rising, faith unwavering that the money will be there
(60$ have come in). And I myself, Simeon's proud Mom, am ready to
give my last penny to send him there (all I have is used for the
I believe Simeon's stay in Mozambique is very significant for various
reasons. Personally for Simeon – his life will be totally
changed, and he will be equipped to do the works of the kingdom,
being a part of a national revival for that little while. For us
here in Mali – Simeon will come back to invest himself into
this ministry and this country. Heidi's ministry is SO similar to
our vision here, and Simeon will get much input and ideas for us
here also. Finally, I'm praying it could be the beginning of a friendship/partnership
between Heidi/IRIS Ministries and us.
CLAUDIA IN THE US/EUROPE
With Simeon gone for 3 months, I will also hit the road at the
same time. While I leave Mali behind for that many weeks with a
heavy heart, I'm entrusting our friends and work into the hands
of the Lord. The Lord is in the process of preparing my summer schedule
(pretty exciting), and I'm beginning to understand how significant
this summer is going to be for myself and the ministry here. It
will be a time of building relationships, strengthening relationships,
divine appointments and refreshing for spirit, soul and body. I
long to draw people's attention to the 6th-poorest nation in the
world, and share about the wonderful things God is doing there and
about to do. I will take every opportunity to share about Mali or
preach God's heart.
This is my current schedule:
June – Kansas City
July – Vienna/Austria
Aug (beginning) – Paris
Aug (middle) – Pasadena, CA
Aug (in between) – Kansas City
Aug 24 – return to Mali
My visits to Paris and Pasadena are going to be very significant.
We joined HIM (Harvest International Ministries), led by
Che Ahn, a few months ago (other people part of that network are
Jill Austin, Jim Goll, Lou Engle, CTC). The HIM Headquarters are
in Pasadena (Harvest Rock Church), and I'm looking forward to personally
getting to know the leaders, deepening our relationship. There will
be a conference with Cindy Jacobs and Heidi Baker there at that
I'm also excited to stop in Paris on my way back to Kansas City,
to get to know another HIM church there. I'm particularly excited
because since Mali is a francophone nation, it would be a tremendous
blessing to be in relationship with another French-speaking church
(plus, whenever I fly anywhere, I have to pass by Paris).
Now you will ask, how's she gonna pay all that? (one person did)
My motto has always been: "When God calls, He provides."
Yes, there is no money for any and every activity in this newsletter,
but HE will make it possible. Had I ever waited for the necessary
means to do anything in my life, I would have never gone to Bible
School. I would have never gone to Mali. And I would never have
started to feed the hungry. But, as Heidi always says, "There
is always enough!" (and it was Jesus who said that to her).
So, watch and see what the Lord will do! Maybe you're even called
to be a part of the provision!
I'm excited looking forward – not to the summer, though it's
gonna be an awesome and exciting time – but to the time AFTER
the summer. Not only will a fiery Simeon and refreshed Claudia be
back in Mali, but we will be preparing Cliff Pash's visit to Mali
in November. We're very excited having him come to do an open-air
campaign, conference, and meetings not only in Bamako, but also
in Koutiala and Timbuktu. We've started the preparations together
with a few churches in the same area…. Wanna come to Mali?
Join Cliff for an awesome adventure! Contact him if you want to
know more about coming to Mali with him: CPash39843@aol.com
In the awesome name of our glorious Bridegroom KING,
P.S. A question to those in Kansas City: Does anyone have a car
to lend me for the month of June I'm spending with you?