They Will Know We are Christians by our Love
“When God says Yes who can say No?” These were the words on a plaque which hung above my bed. In my 4 years in Mahajanga and especially the last 2 years as team leader, I needed to be reminded that leading the team was God’s idea and not mine!
It began in 2005 when I was invited to lead a TIMO team. In May 2007 after attending my first team leader’s forum at En Gedi, TIMO’s headquarters in Tanzania, I was given one month to pray and seek God. God gave me the option to exit this ministry but so many would be affected if I did. The team arrived 21 August 2009 and on 13 August 2011 the Mahajanga team completed their final de-briefing! To God alone the Glory!!
I went to Mahajanga not knowing how this team would happen. God knew. I became involved in two communities in Mahajanga – the more settled Island community and the transient student community at the University. Through teaching English, I made contact with them and built relationships. The TIMO leadership who came in September 2008, helped me make the decision to choose the student community for our outreach. We trusted God that out of our team there would be members who would return to work amongst the more settled community. Team members Graeme and Eli Mallett and family are planning to return to Mahajanga in August 2012 to work amongst the more settled communities of Island people! Isn’t God good! His way, His Plan!
There were many challenges as I prepared for the team’s arrival: Setting up homes for a team of 15; trusting God for a team of Malagasy co-workers. I would not be able to do the set-up on my own. Our orientation and LAMP course took place on the Islands. I thank God for the help from the Islands team. Language helpers were needed for French in a sea of Malagasy and then of course ALL the administration including visa applications in two countries. But God…. He brought me through and gave what I needed! What a Faithful God have I!
There were many challenges during our two years: Team members were ill from day one on arriving back in Mahajanga from the Islands. Team members were frustrated. It was difficult to find good French speakers and university students were attending lectures during the day. As the only Malagasy speaker I often had to be spokesperson for the team members in their various communities. I had to learn that the team was my main ministry while the team members were out there visiting and building relationships. As a team we had to say goodbye to one family 8 months into our time in Mahajanga. We had to deal with a hostile student who questioned our presence and interest specifically in the island community. Is anything to hard for God?
I thank God for my team. He gave me the right team members who would complement my gifting. Teamwork enhances ministry effectiveness when it works well and by God’s grace we were able to work together. The regular one on ones or one on twos with my team members was the best part of TIMO. It was privilege to be able to journey with them through these two years and see how God revealed Himself, their gifts and those areas in their lives and mine that needed His touch. By God’s grace we were able to encourage and envision the local GBL (Groupes Bibliques Locale) to continue the ministry after TIMO. These were our Malagasy ministry partners who included university students and graduates. Since the team left in August I have been so encouraged to see the work continuing. Pray for them.
Is this the end? No, it is only the beginning. Establishing a Christ-Centred church amongst the Island peoples here in Mahajanga is a task that requires more than two years. We praise God for Stan from the Islands and Luke from Madagascar who both made commitments to follow Christ. Both come from M backgrounds. Others are still considering the claims of Jesus. The Malletts, the GBL and others will continue to carry the vision forward to see a Christ Centred Church amongst the Island people. What a privilege to have had a part in God’s Work here.