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


Week 3 - Timbuktu

Dr. Cliff Pash (Dr. Claudia R. Wintoch)

23 November 2005




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Dr. Claudia R. Wintoch
Centre Apostolique Malien
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Bamako, Mali
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After nearly 3 weeks in Mali, Cliff is leaving tonight to return to the US, while Alex is staying another two days. Rather than having a much needed break, we continue on full-steam. This Sunday we're celebrating our first birthday as a church, and there is much to prepare for that special day, while making the most of Cliff's and Alex's last hours. We'll be baptizing four people on that special day. And just in time for the celebration, we've received our official papers. Centre Apostolique Malien now is a registered church in Mali. Praise God! Now we can start the next phase of applying to receive a plot of land.

Read below Cliff's report on our time in Timbuktu:

Good Morning from Bamako, Mali.

We have returned from the fabled ancient city of Tombouctou (or Timbuktu in the non French speaking world). Very interesting. A land of sand and ancient buildings. One of the mosques was built in the 1300's and is still in use today. The city once had over 100,000 citizens but now is at less than 30,000. It is considered a spiritual gateway to and from Mali by almost everybody and therefore, many believe it is the key to Mali's spirituality. No wonder we felt such warfare regarding our trip to this place.

After our ministry was almost over, Alex Achuti had a dream of a great cloud coming out of the desert. AS the cloud came closer to the city, a man in flowing robes came out of the cloud and began to float over the city, then stepping on or walking on various roof tops. As he came closer, Alex recognized him as Jesus. He asked that this far away vision might come closer, but it disappeared.

Alex began to feel that he had "conjured" up this vision because he wanted to see something in the spiritual realm, so God made the vision true by bringing the vision back to him once again. The same cloud, the same man in flowing robes floating and then stepping on various buildings in the city, then coming down to step on the land, then disappearing.

Every member of this team had felt so much warfare regarding this trip to Timbuktu. Many of the intercession times were seeing a time of intense warfare of the Angels of Heaven over this city with the forces of evil.

What was most interesting to me was as we began to pray for the YWAM (Youth with a Mission) missionary who lives in this city the next day, a prophetic stirring came over me as I told him of the vision of Alex. The Spirit of the Lord was saying that every house that the toe of Jesus touched that night received a vision of the "Man in White", a visitation of Jesus to the people who lived in that house.

I then told both the pastor and the YWAM missionary that they should be looking for people talking about this dream that they received. I believed they would both be given the chance to minister to people who had seen Jesus on that Saturday night. If they would be looking for them, they would find them for Jesus is desiring to be made known to the Muslims of this city.

Our ministry in Timbuktu was not as dramatic as we might have been able to see in the flesh. There are only 3 churches in this city, a Baptist church of 60 members (begun 55 years ago), an Assemblies of God church (our host) of 40 people and a new church (New Life) begun very recently with 30 children as members. This macro church is very small and insignificant and has not raised up Warriors.

Therefore, our ministry was somewhat limited.

We were able to speak for 10 minutes on an Islamic radio station that often preaches hate, and for 30 minutes on Peace Radio about our purpose for traveling so far.

We had three nights of meetings outside of the Assemblies church, one of which had many visitors and was the best night of the campaign. That night there were approximately 100 in attendance. Many things are very different in an overwhelmingly Islamic city.

We saw several salvations and believe several were healed. There is a continual difficulty with language for only Claudia could communicate with us. Normally we needed a minimum of two translations to communicate the simplest idea, a very difficult proposition when praying for the sick or the lost. Most of the people of Timbuktu speak Tamashek, a language Claudia does not know. Most of them do not know French. Therefore, one would translate to French, then Claudia to English, then back to French then to Tamashek. You should be getting the picture.

We had some very intense time of teaching on both Saturday and Sunday to the people of the church. We taught from Luke 11 where it DOES NOT say the stronger man comes and overcomes the strong man. Instead it says the stronger man takes away the weapons that the strong man uses. The discussion and application went very well.

WE also taught from Luke 16 regarding the Shrewd Manager, concluding that if the manager could forgive the debts owed to the master, how much more could the disciples forgive the debts of the tax collectors and the sinners that were owed only to our master in heaven. And if the Shrewd Manager brought such honor to the master, how much more could we bring honor to our master through our forgiveness of these debts. And if the master would compliment the Shrewd Manager, how much more will our Master compliment us if we were to practice this type of forgiveness -- in the community setting.

These teachings were very much appreciated.

The highlight of the trip, however, was our trip to the Tuareg family who lived out in the desert. We took a half hour camel ride to this family of five brothers and their children. The women did not sit in with us during this time. AS we drank tea in their tent, we began to share a story which was really a teaching from scripture that demonstrated the character of God.

Naaman was attaching Israel and taking slaves from the villages he attacked. He developed leprosy and saw that the rest of his life he would have to live with the lepers in the leper colony.

One of the slave girls he had captured told him there is a God in Israel and if he would go to the prophet, he would be healed. Imagine the shock the king of Israel felt when Naaman sent him the letter saying he was coming to see him in order that his God would heal him!!

AS you know, Naaman was healed and declared that the God of Israel is the only true God. He did not attack Israel any more. This is how God would prefer to deal with His enemies, a very strange concept in even our ways of thinking. Through us, He will bring salvation to His enemies -- our enemies.

Well, JESUS then declares in Luke 4 that He has come to set the captives free and to open wide the prison doors. He declares that this scripture is fulfilled as He spoke it. The people thought they were the captives who were going to be made free and they were the prisoners whose doors were to be opened. They were very happy.

Then Jesus tells them that it is the Romans who are the captives and it is the Romans who are the prisoners and God intends to set them free in the same way that he set Naaman free many years before.

The secret plan was to invite the Romans into the temple to be healed as Naaman was, and to take the glory of God to the Romans as Elijah took it to the widow at Sidon.

The people did not think of the Romans as the captives or prisoners and so wanted to kill Jesus at that time. They did not want to listen to the prophet.

Since the Touregs are the noblemen of the desert, the warriors of the desert, this was a very strange way of dealing with their enemies. They discussed much between them before speaking to us as the story came to a close. They had questions about the God that their ancestors once believed in before the Arabs brought Islam. They knew Jesus was a prophet, but this story seemed to unsettle them.

I then applied it to the current day in which two cultures and two religions are coming together in the beginnings of a great war. Perhaps God is saying something to us in this day.

I volunteered that if I were to go to Osama bin Laden, that God would heal him and perhaps peace could once again come to the world. I did not make this statement lightly for if they were to kidnap me and take me to this man, I would suffer greatly from them.

To what purpose do we live our lives? If through such an act, peace came to the world, how much would our lives count? AS the slave girl taken from her village by the armies of Syria kept her eyes on heaven and spoke the words of God to Naaman, might we do less in our day?

Once again, this was a very different way to think of things for these nomads of the desert. This is a people who have never been defeated or subjected to tyranny for they move with the wind and have no country of their own. They can survive in the desert where no other people can survive. They are very confident of their ability and skills and have been historically feared by every people they come into contact with.

Yet our simple gospel message challenged them. From their reactions we know this is true.

WE then prayed for their goats and their camels and their children and their wives and also for them. They were deeply touched. When they wanted to bless us using the name of Allah, the oldest brother -- leader of the family, had tears in his eyes.

And thus the gospel is spread. They said we spoke in ways more Christian than their Islamic brothers or than any other Christian. They were deeply touched. Of course we pray they become the agents of salvation for many.

Well, I have written much of our trip to Timbuktu. While we did not see the dead raised, perhaps the church which is pretty dead has been raised.

I have not written about the pastor of the Assemblies church and will do so when I return home. He is a former Islamic Marabout (teacher) who had a radical conversion experience. He is the kind of man who can bring Christianity to this city. My fear, however, is that with Assemblies doctrines, he will have a nice church that radically changes nothing.

Please pray for the Christians in Timbuktu.