Saturday, March 3, 2007

Church visits

Saturday after the basketball camps were all done, we got to visit 3 local churches to speak with the pastors, hear their prayer requests, and encourage them. Bill explained this was even more important than the basketball camps because the Senegalese people notice that the rich white Christians are coming to visit the Christian pastors in the villages, but no rich Arabs are coming to visit the Muslim leaders. It really raises the status of the pastors in the eyes of the people and gives them a new level of respect.

The first village we went to was Guilaye's, he continued on with us to translate at the other villages. (Even though Bill could translate, he likes to have to locals do it. Part of it is to strengthen their English, and build more community between local Christians). This little boy was so scared when 14 Toubabs got out of the can. He began screaming and crying and did not stop until some older kids took him away. Bill said it's possible he'd never seen white people, but more likely, some parents talk of toubabs like the boogeyman and say they'll eat you if you're not good.

These kids weren't as scared and were excited to take pictures with us.

This is the verse over the door of Guilaye's church. I don't know if it's in Wolof or what verse it is but I sent an e-mail to Mary Anne asking her. There were also a few more verses painted inside.

This is the church Guilaye attends. His brother is the senior pastor and he is the youth pastor. He was so great with the kids at the camps that we can definitely see him as a youth pastor. He asked for prayer as he tries to complete the last 3 of a 5 year training in Christian leadership. Also, that he feels called to serve God and not necessarily pursue some kind of career, and that is very difficult to do (even here in America, Eric and I struggle against opposition to that all the time, let alone in a Muslim country). He asked for prayer for faithfulness and to be able to support his wife (he's actually engaged but from what I understand it's similar to Biblical betrothals, where there already like husband and wife in many ways). Also for more supplies and such for the church, they'd love to be able to show the Jesus video, but don't have the resources to play it (projector, screen, etc).

In Soma, the Pastor is making an effort to end a huge problem that is stealing away the young people. Senegal has an enormous job scarcity, and young people are leaving the villages to go to the cities in hopes of finding a job. Unfortunately there are no jobs in the city either, and they end up involved in drugs, alcohol, gangs and other horrible things, or getting into tiny fishing boats to try and get to Europe. In Soma they're really working with MIS and other ministries to create jobs for people in the villages. Here's a millet pounder, so instead of women pounding millet by hand every day from sunrise to sunset, a young man (like the "conductor" here) can run this machine and the women can take care of their children. (Here's a promo video for MIS. It's not the best quality, but at one point they show millet being pounded by hand). They also have sewing machines, a medical clinic, an oven for bread, and several other things most villages don't to create jobs.

This is the church building in Soma, I believe they have a church body of about 500 believers, incredible! I don't remember if he said how many of them are children. 40% of the population in Senegal is under 14 (it's only 20% in the US). The Pastor had some great stories about how the Lord answered prayer for the building and the church body.

This is inside the church building in Soma. On the left is the Conductor (that's what they call him since he runs the millet grinder), in the center is Soma's pastor, and on the right is Guilaye translating. The pastor said their most difficult challenge that they need prayer for is resistance to the Muslim opposition. They try so hard to discredit the Christians and their faith and there is often persecution.

This horse was hanging out at Soma and absolutely beautiful.

It was really neat to go to these other villages and see kids wearing the shirts they got in last year's basketball camp!

Pastor Jugga was the Pastor from last year's basketball camp in the village of Mbadat. It was really neat to get to see him and hear of how he led his family members to Christ. Only his father is still Muslim, and his father said that he will allow Jugga to do whatever he feels is necessary for being a Christian. That's unheard of! Typically family members banish people who become Christian. (Pray for his father to know the Lord as he is in failing health) There is definitely a movement of the Lord there. Jugga thanked us for coming, and said he knows we could have just done our camp this year and been on our way, but it meant so much that we thought of him and came to visit. (We also brought more basketballs!) His family asked for lots of prayer because of Jugga's young age (early twenties) but huge responsibility as the spiritual leader for the area.

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