02
Jun
11

the final countdown

So for those of you who don’t know.  We will be arriving back in the States on June 30th.  The glorious part is that all my other travels back from Africa spanned two days…this time we leave Dakar on June 30th and arrive at RDU on June 30th.  Yeah, I know, we fly into RDU not Charlotte.  No fear, my family is coming to pick me up.  Our organization asked if it was ok because they didn’t want us to have to wait forever in DC to fly back to Charlotte.

Anyways, this means that we are down to our last few weeks here in Dakar.  We will officially stop ministry on June 22nd in order to have time to pack, and say goodbye to people and places.  We also want to be able to get our apartments ready for the teams that will be coming next year.

Please be praying for our final 3 weeks of ministry here.  That we would be able to clearly present the Gospel to our students for a final time.  Also, that we would be able to say goodbye well to our students, in order to help set up the next team well.  Please pray that I finish strong.  Thank you so much for your support over this past year.

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02
Jun
11

Omar

I introduced some of you to Omar in a previous newsletter.  Omar is a student at the university that I work at.  He is originally from Dakar and his family is Muslim.  I met him while talking with a student in a room.  Omar heard us speaking in English and then noticed that I had a Bible.  He wanted to know about the Bible.  He had never known anyone who could explain it to him.  When I first sat down with him, he had never held a Bible, nor knew anything about it.  We had been in his room and were not able to discuss very well because of so many other people in there, that was in December.

A few months passed without us being able to meet up because of schedules.  I finally got to see him again in the middle of April.  I did not want to waste anytime because I did not know when the next time was that I would get to see him.  I shared the Gospel with him and explained it as best as I could taking time for him to ask questions and then seeing what he understood.  He seemed to understand very well, but wasn’t ready to accept it as truth.  He said that he wanted to see more evidence which means he understands it and believes it to a point, but just isn’t ready to accept it.

Understanding the Gospel is necessary to following Jesus, but we are told by Jesus that if you acknowledge me before men then I will acknowledge you in front of the Father.  But if you deny me before men then I will deny that I knew you in front of the Father.  We must confess with our mouths.  In Romans it says to believe in your heart and confess with your mouth.  Doing one without the other is not sufficient.

Please pray for Omar as he is searching right now.  I left him with a booklet that summarizes what the Gospel says in order for him to have something that he can read over when he wants a reminder of what the Gospel says.

I met Omar again this past week and had a chance to discuss with him.  After speaking with him for a little while, I further realized that he is not ready to accept the Gospel.  But he is very open to hearing and learning more about it.  I continue to pray that he is open and able to meet.  I also pray that he is allowing the Holy Spirit to work in his life.

12
May
11

Landing a follow up

Me, Landing, and Dayton

There is a student on our campus, his name is Landing.  He is from the Southern part of Senegal on the other side of Gambia, a country that cuts through part of Senegal.  Landing comes from a Muslim family, like most people here in Senegal.

Landing started meeting with Dayton and me in February.  There was a film about the life of Jesus told through the eyes of Mary Magdalene that he connected with from the first time he saw it, but hoped to watch it again without the other disturbances of a large group setting.  We thought it would be a good lead in to the Gospel and set up a time to watch it.  After finishing it over several weeks, because of him going back to his village for part of the time, we were able to lead into the Gospel.  We told him about what Jesus did, why he did it, and what it allowed for us, to become children of God.  That God has had a plan for us from the very beginning but that sin disrupted that plan and that Jesus provides the only way to rectify the relationship and that all we have to do is make the decision to follow him.

Landing knew that he had to make a decision and knew that we hoped that he would understand and make a decision to follow Jesus.  But it is not our decision to make for him.  We wanted him to figure it out on his own because we felt that God was truly working within him and could sense that he was close to making a decision.  Later that night he texted that he couldn’t convert because he had grown up studying the Quran and that he was a Muslim.  As close as Landing was/is to making a decision to follow Christ, I feel that he was talking about what he had learned earlier that afternoon and one of his friends/roommates told him that he couldn’t follow Jesus.  If that is the case though, that person does not have the right to make that decision for Landing, just as we don’t have the right to make the decision for Landing.

Please pray that God would continue to work in Landing’s life and that he would continue to feel that longing that began his search for something better than a religion that leads you only to a place that does not lead to God.

Me and Dayton are supposed to meet with Landing on Saturday while many of you will still be asleep or just waking up.  I ask that you would be praying for God to continue to work in his life and to give us the words that Landing needs to hear.

10
May
11

Family Time Senegal Style

Having my family come to visit was an amazing experience.  Yet at the same time it was kind of stressful (no offense, love y’all).  Cross-culturally living is difficult enough for one person, but having to essentially do everything for 2 people who don’t speak the language can be pretty tiring.  The nice part about it was that we also got to do a lot of fun things, yet getting them to see what my life looks like.

Some of the highlights was going to the beach, going to the market, going to the tailor’s so that they could get some dresses made, etc.  So, just before Christmas, I went searching for a gift for one of my teammates, a scarf shop, she’s extremely picky/stylish.  Well, the address that I had was not where the shop was and the owner only spoke French and Wolof, neither of which I was very comfortable with.  Luckily as I was searching for the shop, I saw one of my students who walked with me until we finally found it and was able to communicate with the owner.  Well after buying a scarf for my teammate, which she loved, we returned to buy a few more and order a couple.  Well, now every time that one of us goes, he always asks about me, partially because I am the reason he has/will receive probably close to 3 years worth of money on scarfs in the span of 6 months.  Well, I took Mom and Mere because the scarfs are absolutely amazing, hand-woven in his shop and can be custom ordered.  Well, he had to know how everything was going, and was overjoyed to meet my family (Africans are very interested in you meeting their families and meeting yours).  After ordering roughly 8 or 9 scarfs we started to figure out how much they would cost…I remembered how much, but instead of paying the normal price, he gave me a discount on every single item we bought, which I completely did not expect, but every time when I asked if he was sure he would say, “it’s ok, you’re my friend.”  Building relationships are sometimes well worth it here.  Needless to say, I still need to go back and place an order before returning to the States.

Me and Meredith on Easter

We also got to go to the Talibe (pronounced tal-uh-bay) ministry.  Talibe is Wolof for disciple.  In order for me to explain the system would take quite a while, but the essence is that they are boys given by the families to study underneath the Islamic teachers and then in order to bring in money to the leader, the boys are made to go out and beg.  Many of the boys will be out on the streets for quite a while and many are avoided and become almost invisible.  A woman named Jane has opened up a ministry where she, with the Islamic leaders permission, has provided a place for the boys to come and take showers, wash clothes, play games, get bandaged from the different cuts and wounds that they endure.  The really great part about this ministry is that the boys learn the Quran in Arabic (which they can’t understand), but learn Bible stories and hear praise music in their native tongue.  So when they return to their villages they know the Bible stories better than the Quran.

They also helped to host a party with the girls side of our ministry in honor of Easter.  They allowed the girls to ask any questions of them and consistently brought it back to the Gospel.  One of the questions that caught mom off guard a little was “how could you let your son travel half way across the world to Senegal and do this?”  Family is so important here, and it is somewhat acceptable that if you can get a job in a Western country and earn money for your family than it is worth it to go.  But why would someone allow their son who is from a Western country come to a place like Senegal to work, what’s the point?  God is in control, he told people that his family was those that knew the father.  If we trust God and do what he asks then how are we supposed to say that it is bad?  God knows infinitely more than we do and to not trust him would be crazy.

09
May
11

Next Year (Revised)

First off I want to thank everyone that has helped support me this year both prayerfully and financially.  This has been a very challenging year in many different areas: physically, spiritually, and ministry.

I want to be able to explain my situation that I am currently in and processing through.  Some of it requires a slight bit of insight into my life, my long-term goal is to work with younger kids through teenage years doing sports ministry.  So that leads me to my current predicament.  After the opportunity in the States for next year did not come to fruition, I felt that that had been God trying to show me that it was part of his plan and that I was supposed to come back for a second year in Senegal.  I think a lot of it was God asking me whether I trusted him enough for me to come back because of a lot of things that have been really difficult this year.  It took me a lot of praying and listening to realize that God is much better than my comfort and that he is the one who is truly in control.

So, I applied to come back for a second year, but during the process of them reviewing my application, I started to feel really uncomfortable about coming back for a second year.  Initially I thought it was just one of those times that I was annoyed and disliked the culture here, living next to a mosque can be quite frustrating at times.  Well, the feeling didn’t go away and started to become a burden that I thought about a lot.  While mom and Meredith were here I was able to have a small break from that burden because I was so busying enjoying them being here and thinking so much about how to translate for them.  After they left, those feelings returned and after speaking with our organization back in the States, they wanted me to take a few days and really just spend some time with the Lord praying about next year.  After taking that time, I came to the tough decision that God had been telling me for the past few weeks, almost month, that I was supposed to come back to the States.

So where do I go next?  Well, my heart and my passion is to work with youth using sports.  What that looks like I am not completely sure, I know that I want to work with a non-profit type organization.  So, it looks like next year that I will be back in the USA and searching for a job.  If you know of any organizations that might fit the model of using sports to reach adolescents and are looking for help, I would greatly appreciate any contacts that you may have.  I know that God will open the doors, but he also requires us not to sit on our butts.  So, if there is any thing that you may know of, I would greatly appreciate help on a head start.

Stay tuned for some new updates coming in the next few days.  Sorry I haven’t kept my blog up to date, a lot of things going on recently.

19
Mar
11

What about next year

Some of you may be wondering what I will be doing when I return in July.  Well, I can tell you.  I will be coming back to Senegal for one more year.  The program that I am with allows for people to come back for a second year if it is what God is calling you to do.

After a long time of considering the options before me, I feel this is where God is leading me.  I took a few weeks and really started to feel that God was wanting me to come back.  The day that I finally decided was kind of difficult because I had to accept that I would only be back in the States for a few months and then be taking off again for Senegal where the weather is basically the same the whole time that we are here.  Although, the past month has been really windy, which has made it “cold”.

I decided on a Friday that I was coming back and I needed to release some stress and just get away.  So I put on my running clothes and shoes, strapped on my iPod and went straight to the beach.  I think the best part about that run was the time leading up to the beach and on the way back.  Most days as I head out for a run, or really go anywhere, there are people who constantly ask for money, whether that means begging or selling phone credit or some other random thing.  On that particular day, I feel like God really just pushed everyone out of my way.  I wasn’t approached by anyone and just had the chance to run.  It was absolutely glorious.  I think that that run alone helped to calm me down and let me bring back into focus why I am here in Senegal.

The next few days I came to realize that there are several relationships here that are not even near completion.  God wants me here to provide stability in relationships with people and to provide that continuity that ministry requires.  I know that I had had my plans of returning home and finding a job starting in July, but God’s plan is far better than my own.

 

 

 

16
Mar
11

Update on Campus

I have a prayer request for our campus.  The professors at the university have been on strike for almost a month now.  For us it has been great, for the most part we have been able to meet with students more often because they have a lot of free time.  The bad part is that there have been more riots by students, almost one a week which means the riot police come on campus in order to break up the riot using rubber bullets and tear gas.  Don’t worry, we get off campus before the bullets starts flying.  It’s pretty easy to figure out when a riot is about to start up.

The real problem is that because the students have missed so much time because of the professors demands for more money and better teaching conditions, and the school year is in danger of being canceled.  Just as a reminder our campus is extremely overcrowded in every way, students living 6+ in a dorm room intended for 2, classrooms are just as overcrowded.  If you do not get there in time to get a seat then students will sit on the ground, many times in front of the first row of seats and the teachers do not have much room to move around.

So back to the ramifications of if school gets canceled.  The very likely outcome is that many of our friends and students will return back to the villages since they are able to stay because of the scholarships that they receive from the government.  Ministry would become extremely difficult for us over the last few months.  It would also make it very difficult for the students that are coming to share the Gospel this summer from the States because there won’t be many/any students at the university.

Therefore I am asking that you pray for there to be a peaceful resolution to the situation.  Also that the professors would return to work, not only so that our ministry would be able to continue, but also for the students.  It would not be easy for them to have a year of their life essentially cancelled.  Also, I don’t think the professors realize that if they cancel this school year that the next five years would be even more overcrowded because you would have twice the amount of 1st year students next year and for the next four after.  There are great ramifications to whatever happens.