thousand years ago new life came to earth, THE Life Himself, and
two thousand years later, as we celebrate the Word beginning His
human life, new lives were begun right here in Bamako, Mali. As
young and old were born into His kingdom, changing allegiance, changing
their father, and changing the rest of their lives, on earth and
in eternity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were surely rejoicing
together with the angels.
PARTY FOR STREET KIDS
about 70 children showed up this year. We played some games, sang
a few songs, with them dancing, and then they watched two little
Christmas movies. After that I asked them some questions about what
they had seen, and then shared the rest of story of Christ, that
He grew up and went to the cross. Some children were asleep, but
others were hanging
on my lips, devouring every word I spoke. As we prayed a prayer
of commitment to Jesus, many did so for the first time. Praise God!
had a meal together, and then it was time for the gifts. Each child
received a piece of clothing of his choice, and a pair of shoes
donated by CCARA, the German NGO managing our kids' sponsorships.
Many children returned to the street - happy.
WITH OUR FAMILY
the service on Sunday, it was time for the children in our church
and neighborhood to receive their gifts, as well as the church members.
I handed out
Christian calendars in Bambara - the picture shows Hawa happily
Then each kid
received a package with candy, shoes, and a toy. Three-year-old
Anatole (picture) wasn't the only happy child. For most - if not
all - these children it was the first Christmas gift they had ever
it was time for the "core family" to celebrate - just
the 15 of us. I locked them out of the house, and decorated the
big table to make it special for them. The gifts had already been
accumulating on their specially decorated table the two preceding
weeks. I cooked an Austrian dessert and served it, then it was FINALLY
(their quote) time to let them in.
I love watching
children at Christmas - the wonder, the joy... They loved the dessert,
sang HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Jesus, and then we handed out the gifts,
watching one after the other opening it. It was the first Christmas
for all 6 older kids, because a year ago they were still Muslims
and living on the street (or not yet on the street). Needless to
say, they loved it all, and expressed their gratitude to the Lord
as we closed the evening in prayer.
As a Mom, I
could not help but think of my "firstborn" Sekouba all
night. A year ago he was the only child here, and it was his first
Christmas, which he loved. I wonder where he is now, and whether
he was even aware that it was Christmas that night. May the Lord
protect him and pursue him!
IN THE VILLAGE
the 26th it was time to take the car to Dio, where children were
eagerly waiting for their gifts, and adults for the first movie
in 10 years. All our children wanted to come along, but only two
could go - Saloum and Fousseni - as well as Paul and Simeon, so
that we were five in all. The rest of the car was filled with sound
system, equipment for the movie, camping stuff for the night, and
100 kg of rice to give to the pastor.
Thanks to CCARA,
we had the same packages ready for the 19 children in the village,
who either have or are waiting for sponsors - candy, shoes, and
a toy. Their joy was great as they received those priceless gifts,
things that were now THEIRS.
In the evening
we set up the equipment, and put our sheet on the wall of a little
mud house. We needed to get everything ready before the sun went
down, since there is no electricity, and therefore no light, in
Dio. They started singing, the sound carrying far thanks to the
sound system. After half an hour a little crowd had gathered, and
we started the JESUS-film. Only 15 minutes into the movie I noticed
that the battery powering the sound system was already low; it hadn't
been charged enough in Bamako (it charges extremely slowly). What
to do? The generator powering the projector and DVD player was not
powerful enough for everything.
did the only thing we could do - Paul stood next to the projector
and repeated to the people all that was being said in the movie.
He did a wonderful job! When the movie was over, I gave him green
light to also handle the prayer time (I was too exhausted), and
he did an awesome job. I was very proud of my "son". Eleven
people dedicated their lives to the Lord, and they also prayed for
a few for healing.
I talked to
pastor Enoch later, and was very touched by his testimony. How he's
been renewed, and how he now has adults in his church for the first
time. In the past, only a few kids would come, but it's changing
now. The Lord is changing him, is anointing him, and he is starting
to see salvations and healings. Hallelujah! Thank you, Lord, for
the little role You allowed us to play in this pastor's and village's
life! And it's only the beginning!
YEAR'S EVE PRAYER NIGHT
Again, I was
very proud of Paul, who is my right-hand man, only 18 years old,
at how he handled everything for three days while I was sick in
bed. He managed to teach the kids on last moment's notice, and led
the prayer night into the New Year.
And they had
a powerful time together - which was easy to hear in my room - praying
for 7 hours. The kids all participated, and some adults even danced
and prayed like never before. Praise God!
He has great
things in store for us this year. Looking back over 2006, I'm amazed
at all He's done. And doubtlessly, I'll say the same thing a year
from now. This is the year of entering into our Promised Land, moving
to our property, and starting a new chapter at Centre
the third kid we took in in December, had to leave us after having
stolen several times and not making an effort to change. It's
always hard to see a child go, but the shorter the time the easier.
currently doing an intensive Bible School, from
9 am till 5 pm every day for 6 days. Thankfully I have two helpers,
who have already done the first trimester, who take my place most
of the time.
children redid the exams they failed, and got
better grades. School starts again on Monday. Solomani can join
our old kids without effort, but Eli needs to start from scratch.
Since the neighbors' kids don't have sponsors yet, we cannot start
another grade yet. Eli will have to be taught at the side individually.
pray for Firmin, who's been with us for 4 months.
He's not gifted in taking care of kids, so we need to find a solution.
Wednesday I'm leaving on my trip to Paris and
on to the USA (my itinerary is on the left). Paul will be in charge
during my absence.
Thank you for
partnering with me to take Mali for the Lord. May we all have a
fruitful year 2007!
Love in HIM,