Paul and Peter admonish us to strive for knowledge,
to increase in knowledge, for the glory of our Lord and God. At
the time, Greek culture was dominant; a culture where knowledge
was elevated to a high position, the quest for knowledge a most
noble task and end in itself. Also today many cults and religions
have made it their highest goal to increase in knowledge, often
secret knowledge, and have made knowledge an idol. Even some Christian
groups elevate the knowledge of the Bible seemingly higher than
a living relationship with God, while other Christians have stopped
striving for knowledge to pursue relationship with God and His presence
The Hebrew culture was all about relationship, but not at the expense
of knowledge. Knowledge is necessary for relationship, and we all
need to increase in knowledge while going higher in our relationship
with God. Let's find the right balance, instead of neglecting one
for the other. So that would live a life worthy of the Lord, pleasing
Him in every way and bearing fruit in every good work (see above).
As a passionate teacher, I feel most fulfilled when teaching people
and seeing their progress, how they acquire knowledge and put it
into practice. It is only natural for God to use me in that way
at in Bamako. In fact, my first two years in Mali I taught German
at a little Malian High School, which was a great and stretching
experience, that also provided me with a work visa. Today I teach
at our church and now I'd like to introduce to you the different
classes and courses being taught at Centre Apostolique Malien. (By
the way, I finally got my visa for year #3. Praise God! Go to my
blog to read the details.)
The English class was the first course I offered while still at
the High School. Mali being a French-speaking country, many people
have the desire to learn English, and so it's been a great way of
Muslims and Christians coming together in a non-threatening setting.
Some of the Muslims in the class have come to movie nights or services
or the children's program, helping out at times. Some of them are
Hassan, Seybou's cousin, who was healed by Jesus
and spends much time here, and then another Hassan
(I call them "Hassan 1" and "Hassan 2"), who
is also a university student and who comes by for other events occasionally.
Both of them are practicing Muslims. Then there is Kassim,
another university student, who has recently started coming to the
children's program on a regular basis. He said he was fascinated
by the teaching (I use a lot of illustrations), and he also comes
to the movie night quite often. Kassim is only a nominal Muslim,
not even keeping the Muslim month of fasting going on right now.
The other half of the classes are Christians from our church (eg.
Marie and Paul) and other churches. And imagine, the police officer
who took care of my visa and who's treating our government recognition
papers wants to join us, starting next week!
I've just had to split the one class we had into two groups, to
accommodate for the different levels people are at. We now have
a beginners' class and a class for advanced students, both on Tue
night, one after the other, 90 minutes each.
Before I teach English for three hours on Tuesday, I teach the
literacy class. We started off with two groups this year, one for
beginners and one for advanced students, but reduced it to one,
so that I'm teaching all levels at the same time. For some reason
the beginners' class was much smaller this year. However, I added
another day in the week (Friday), because one hour per week is simply
Seybou, Elisabeth and Ari are making a lot of progress in their
reading and writing skills. As you know, Seybou
was a lot more advanced before I left in summer, being able to read
everything. However, all that time we had somewhat neglected writing
skills – which is a lot more difficult for them. Sometimes
they get pretty frustrated. We now spend half the class writing
and half reading, and it's great to see them learn and advance.
Elisabeth reads very well, while Ari
writes really well. I'm excited to know that pretty soon they will
be able to read God's word for themselves. Elisabeth now has her
stepson Paul read God's word to her, but not for much longer.
Our new students include Sekouba and Hassim. Sekouba
is the street kid that came to the Lord and had a dream of Jesus.
Sekouba now sleeps in a tent I pitched in the garden most every
night. He is a sweet kid, and yet he has so far to go. Hassim
is a guard at a nearby house and came a couple of weeks ago to our
service, wanting to become a Christian. We prayed together, and
he comes whenever he is allowed by his boss. Brahima
is another street kid that is not in our literacy class yet, but
will be soon, I believe. Brahima decided to follow Jesus, and he
seems more serious than Sekouba. When I teach the children on Wednesdays,
he is the most attentive of all kids. Yesterday he showed us a horrible
wound he has on his foot. We prayed for him, but I knew I had to
act. We went to the pharmacy, and thankfully it wasn't me taking
care of the wound. He has a huge hole full of rotten flesh in his
foot. Pray that God will heal him! I've also offered Brahima to
spend the nights here. Today he came during the day to just lie
down and take a nap. Seeing him sleeping, the word "refuge"
came to my mind. It's like he knew, coming onto our property, he'd
find refuge from the world out there. While Sekouba laughs at times,
Brahima is always serious and sad-looking.
The last weekend in November we celebrate our first anniversary
as a church. At our inaugural service last year, we did our first
and only baptism so far. I've felt that the time has come for another
baptismal service, even before the multitudes that come in through
the crusade with Cliff are ready for that step. What better occasion
than our anniversary service, where there'll be many people and
a banquet. Plus, it is going to be Cliff's last day with us.
Since three out of the five baptism candidates don't speak French,
and to give my pastor-in-training some opportunity to step out and
grow, I asked Emmanuel to teach the three sessions to prepare them
for baptism, and to do so in Bambara. Without the language barrier
and with Emma's discernment, I believe he will know who is truly
ready to be baptized. The five candidates are Elisabeth,
Paul, Seybou, Sekouba and Hassim.
SCHOOL OF MINISTRY
A year ago we started with 3 students that were reduced to two.
This year we started with 4 students and are down to three. And
those three students are not doing the same school that one of them
did last year. In fact, we started from the beginning again, with
a different program - the International School of Ministry
(ISOM). ISOM is an accredited video-based school that has been translated
into over 50 languages, with every course being taught by a different
teacher, an expert in his field of study. Some of the teachers are
Reinhard Bonnke, Jack Hayford and Joyce Meyer. They teach with an
interpreter on the video, and all the written materials are already
So why did I not continue last year's program? I believe this program
was an answer to prayer for me. First of all, I'm saving a lot of
time by not having to translate all the materials myself. And the
school is truly preparing students for the ministry, with excellent
teachings by excellent teachers. The disadvantage is that students
already have to have a good foundation of faith and certain level
of maturity to follow.
is why Paul is being stretched a lot by the school.
On the first day of school I found out that he doesn't have a Bible.
He had never had a Bible or read one – well, all of that has
changed by now. Paul has such a pure heart, such a desire to know
God and to serve Him, it's beautiful. He is giving his best, learning
how to find passages and reading God's word eagerly, as well as
giving his all to do the homework. If you'd be graded by effort,
he'd be on the top!
I'm also glad that Emmanuel can do the school
this year. As the most mature Christian, coming from an evangelical
background, the school is perfect for him. He's especially eagerly
drinking in the teachings on the things of the Spirit.
The third student, and only one to do his second year (though it's
back to first with that school), is Simeon.
And tonight (Thursday), all three are writing their mid-term exam.
Last year I translated and taught three of the twelve courses of
the Faith Bible College program. It's a good school, and
I didn't lightly choose NOT to teach it this year. We might continue
with the other classes at a later time. Right now, I have an assistant
pastor doing a correspondence course through me as the Bible College
representative in Mali, and a pastor is also interested in getting
his degree that way.
As you can see, our church members and friends, Christians and
Christians-to-be, are growing in knowledge of one kind or another.
My goal in all our classes is to point them to Christ, to fill them
with truth that will lead them to repentance, to stir their hearts
to know the One who sent me and who LOVES them.
How you could support those ministries:
* All three of my Bible students do not have the
means to pay for their training – one doesn't have a job,
one is a High School student and one is a university student, without
money to even come to the school. School fees (tuition and supplies)
are $28 (23 EUR) per trimester.
* Because of a formal mistake, Paul was forever
refused the chance to go to a public High School.
He was devastated, yet grew a lot in his trust of God through this
situation. He has worked very hard to get to where he is (as an
Albion he has special physical and social challenges), and to even
reach the level of being able to go to High School. So I sent him
to inquire how much the private High School costs, and gave him
the first payment. He's now attending school and very excited. Paul's
family is very poor, barely having enough to eat, and school even
requires more expenses (e.g. school uniform). Paul's heart is to
proclaim the gospel and serve God for the rest of his life. Would
any of you like to become a sponsor to enable Paul to do his three
years of High School (lycée) to complete his schooling? Tuition
is $310 (260EUR) a year. Also, I'm excited to tell
you he went today to have glasses made (Albinos have bad eyes),
so from now on he will see clearly in the physical as well. Just
the glasses, without the doctor's visit, cost $70 (60 EUR).
* I'm requiring a little fee for English class, for the expense
of photocopying the materials, but again, many students cannot afford
that. Literacy class is free, a service of love, and none of them
would be able to pay even a cent anyway. So, maybe you can imagine
how much paper and ink I use for all the classes above. Additionally,
because of the climate, ink runs out quicker (evaporates). So, expenses
for printer cartridges and paper are a considerable
Next week I'm flying to Paris for 5 days, to meet
up with Dr. Cliff Pash and his wife there, at our
sister church. I'm honored and rejoice that I'm able to introduce
Cliff to my friends in Paris, and he will have a chance to minister
to them twice. Cliff & Julie haven't spent time in Paris yet,
so it will be a special occasion for them. As for myself, I'm glad
to have a few days of "filling up" with my brothers and
sisters, some rest from the stress and craziness of preparing for
the crusade in Bamako, and ministry in Timbuktu and Koutiala. The
enemy has been pounding on everything, as well as me, causing much
trouble in his attempt to keep God's plan from moving forward, but,
praise God, God always prevails! So, please keep praying as we're
entering the hot phase – for the team and for all that needs
to be done.
Oct 28-Nov 2 Paris, France
Nov 2 Cliff and I travel to Bamako
Nov 3 School of Ministry
Nov 4 movie night THE PASSION with Cliff, prayer
Nov 5 day-seminar with Cliff for English-speaking
missionaries in Bamako
Nov 6 Cliff preaching in another church in the
morning, at CAM in the afternoon
Nov 7 two more team members arrive – Randy
Nov 8 last team member arrives – Alex; morning:
evangelism school, evening: addressing crusade team
Nov 9 morning: evangelism school, noon: children's
program, evening: crusade
Nov 10-12 morning: conference, evening: crusade
Nov 13 morning: Cliff at yet another church, afternoon:
Cliff at CAM
Nov 14 traveling from Bamako to Sévaré
Nov 15 traveling from Sévaré to Timbuktu
Nov 16-20 Timbuktu
Nov 20 traveling from Timbuktu to Sévaré
Nov 21 Dogonland
Nov 22 traveling from Sévaré to Koutiala
Nov 22-26 Koutiala
Nov 27 CAM 1st anniversary service with baptism,
Nov 28 Cliff's departure
In HIS service,