I just read the latest UN rating of the poorest
nations in the world – Mali is now fourth, after Burkina Faso
(3rd – Mali's neighbor), Sierra Leone (2nd – separated
from Mali by Guinea) and Niger (poorest – Mali's neighbor).
A country poor in the natural and poor in the spiritual. Last Thursday
Mali celebrated 45 years of independence, while many people have
to go hungry, while strikes are taking place because salaries haven't
been raised in a long time, with prices for basic food elevated
due to the lack of rain and the locusts last year, while people
die of Malaria because they can't afford medication, while girls
and women are being beaten and genitally mutilated, while little
kids are being sold and given away, while street children are desperate
to find food and survive, and while the whole country is getting
ready to bow to Allah, fasting and praying for one month, unable
to eat, drink or swallow their saliva while the sun is up.
will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east,
searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find
it. (Amos 8:12)
The people of Mali are searching. They live in fear of the spirits,
never able to appease them. They live in fear of Allah, trying to
accomplish enough good deeds. They hunger for a relationship with
the one living God, unable to find Him in a nation that is as much
desert spiritually as naturally.
AND YET, did you read the words of HOPE from Isaiah above? Do you
believe that God is doing a new thing today? Do you believe he can
change the desert into a land flowing with milk and honey –
in the spiritual as well as natural? Can you see it springing up,
do you perceive it? Can you see with your eyes of faith, into the
invisible realm, with God's perspective? Or is all you see a clear,
blue sky without any clouds? Can you see the heavenly host in their
chariots, or are your eyes fixed on the enemy who's outnumbering
If God is for us, who can be against us? If God has ordained it,
who can thwart His plans? If God has spoken, who can nullify its
creative power? If God has chosen a person, a people, a nation,
who can reverse it?
The Lord desires to give a drink to His people. I believe His heart
is broken when He looks at the Malian people, the desperation, the
darkness and the absence of His people to proclaim the good news.
I believe Jesus has tears in His eyes, a drink in His hand, looking
desperately for a person to be His hands and feet to pass on His
drink of living water.
There will be streams in the wasteland, water in the desert. Can
you see it?
Jesus used the mustard seed as a picture for his kingdom –
one of the smallest seeds of his time – yet one of those tiny
seeds would become a huge tree, with birds finding refuge in its
Right now, I'm in the season of sowing those tiny seeds –
seeds that will bear much fruit in the future. With my eyes of faith,
I can see those huge trees, covering the land, shining with the
In the next few emails I'd like to describe to you the different
activities/ministries going on in Mali and what the Lord is doing
right now. Today I'd like to start with the weekly children's program.
my surprise, my email KINGLY
AMBASSADORS OF JUSTICE was forwarded on several email
lists. It was there that I shared how God told me to start ministering
to the (street) kids on a weekly basis, including feeding their
bodies, and my desperate response because of lack of finances and
manpower. Returning to Mali a couple of weeks ago, the Lord impressed
on me to not wait but start right away, and so we did. By faith,
moving forward, as I've always done, whether the natural is in agreement
(yet) or not.
now, we've gathered the kids three times – every Wednesday.
We have about 50 kids every week – street children as well
as neighbors' kids. We keep a list of their names, and each one
of them has a name badge around their neck that they were allowed
to put stickers on. It helps me learn their names, and we also mark
on the back every time they come to keep track.
Before we start the program, we eat together. All the seven bowls
or so are brought out, ready to be distributed, and we all lift
our hands towards the food as we thank God for it. Then we all sit
down together in groups, eating with our hands out of one bowl (the
Malian way). And I love joining them, rather than forming an "adult
group". We also serve them juice to drink, rather than the
water they drink all the time.
After the meal, it's time for the program. We repaired the plastic
tarp that covers a space of 10 by 5 meters, so that we don't have
to suffer from the noon sun any more (I burned the skin on my neck
once). I start the program with a children's song with actions.
This summer I was on a journey of finding children's actions songs,
and now I use those materials, translating them into Bambara. The
children LOVE those songs!
the song, we do a memory verse. I'm looking for those who remember
last week's verse, and they get a candy when they do. Then we learn
a new verse that has to do with that day's teaching. The kids are
doing really good – especially the street kids who once belonged
to a Muslim teacher where they had to memorize the Quran. I do most
all the talking in French (except for the songs and verses), and
Paul interprets me. Thankfully my Bambara is constantly improving.
the Bible verse, I ask questions about the previous week's teaching
with a hand puppet – like everything else to do with kids
something I've never in my life done before. Then we play a short
sketch that is reflecting the day's teaching. The sketch as well
as the teaching is from KIDS
IN MINISTRY INTERNATIONAL – they have awesome materials,
raising up children to become powerful in the Lord TODAY. Of course
I have to adapt them to the culture.
At the end we pray. The first day we were interrupted by rain (the
rainy season is drawing to a close right now), but the second week
I asked them who wanted to know Jesus, be His friend, and follow
him, and most everyone's hand went up. So we prayed together.
The third week our topic was God the Father. I knew it would be
a powerful subject because of the abandonment the street children
have suffered. While talking about the Father's lavish, unconditional
love for them, I could see how the words went deep. We also had
fun – I talked about little boys copying their fathers (like
we should do with our heavenly Father) and put shaving cream on
my face, pretending to shave myself. They had a laugh.
At the end, we prayed together – they repeated after me,
then I told them I'd love to pray for them so that God would pour
His love into them. Many children wanted to be prayed for. It was
so precious! People in Mali don't hug (other missionaries just confirmed
that to me), but I hugged each child, not wanting to let go of them,
especially the street children.
One of the most eager kids is Sekouba (the one in the red shirt
sleeping below). He's probably about 15 (and one of the oldest)
and out on the streets. He listens very attentively and participates
eagerly. I could tell how the message got to him. When he came up
for prayer and I put my hand on him, compassion suddenly flooded
me and my heart nearly broke for this kid as I could feel his pain,
his abandonment, his longing for love. I prayed for him, and hugged
him – which he was a little uncomfortable with. There were
a few of the other street kids as well who listened carefully, absorbing
every word about love. In fact, they were all more attentive than
the first two weeks. One of the major challenges has been discipline
– how to get 50 kids to sit still and listen.
third Wednesday the kids started dispersing, but some of the street
children had fallen asleep. Four boys stayed, sleeping in the shade.
When praying for them earlier, I prayed that the Lord would give
them dreams and reveal Himself to them. Seeing them sleeping there,
so peacefully, I was wondering if God was answering that prayer,
and praying for God's presence to come down and envelop them. I
wanted to just sit down with them and talk when they'd wake up.
They slept for several hours in this safe haven, but to my disappointment
they left without me realizing it.
This coming Wednesday the subject is Jesus, and the week after
Holy Spirit. Please lift me and us and the children up before the
throne of God. This ministry involves a lot, in the natural and
spiritual, and we need to claim those children for God's kingdom,
to become radically saved and healed and equipped to bring in the
Last Sunday I preached on healing. To my surprise it wasn't the
adults that came up for prayer, but the kids. Three children came.
One had an open wound, and two injuries that caused them pain. Both
boys said the pain was gone after we prayed for them! Praise God!
I'm also praying a lot for 2-year-old Hama, Seybou's son. Hama
was born unable to use the left side of his body. His hand and foot
are limp, and he has no hope to ever walk. Yet, I pray for him every
opportunity I have, and we're believing that he will be a walking
testimony for the Lord!
THIS is the generation God is raising up! Can you see them coming?
This is Africa – where people have time, where people's decisions
are based on their moods, and where nothing works without giving
money. Though I have been to the Ministry several times, very little
has happened so far. If everything works out, the papers will finally
be deposited in the next few days. It will then take several months
probably before we receive our recognition.
Once recognized, the government will give us a piece of land for
free, just outside of Bamako. I'm already dreaming of that land,
where we'll finally have the street kids living with us… Sometimes
I wonder whether I'll be crazy enough to keep one of the kids even
before then… ;-)
Needs & expenses for the children's ministry:
Currently, with 50 kids, it takes about $30 every week to feed
them. Besides that, I spend money on props needed for the illustrations.
Things we could use for the children besides clothes are pencils,
crayons, coloring books, toys – really anything you can think
of. Once we have the government recognition, we won't pay customs
on any packages mailed to us.
Can't wait to tell you more about the wonderful things God is doing
here in Mali – look for another email soon….
May His presence overshadow you!