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


The Hope Of My Nation

Dr. Claudia R. Wintoch

25 September 2005




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Dr. Claudia R. Wintoch
Centre Apostolique Malien
BPE 1654
Bamako, Mali
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Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. … I provide water in the desert and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen. (Isa 43:18-20)


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.

Men 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 you?

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 branches.

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 Lord's glory!


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.

To 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.

By 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!

After 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.

After 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.

That 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 harvest!

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!

All HIS,