In March, which is the month when the temperatures are too hot for people to work in the fields, Fidel took a trip up north, near the borders with Mali and Burkina Faso. He joined four pastors in their evangelistic film campaign amongst a strongly Muslim and animistic population.
Three pastors were based in Côte d’Ivoire and one in Mali. Roughly a week was spent in each main village, subsequently making day visits to other villages in the area where the pastors are working. The journey just to get to ‘base camp’ took Fidel two days, with a break in Bouaké, and, after 1,652 km, he finally arrived. The round journey involved driving more than 2,300 km. The weather was hot and dry with temperatures reaching up to 42°c.
Fidel found this people group to be heavily attached to fetishes, with children being initiated into this practice from the age of eight. Several times during the visits they were threatened, including being told they would set fire to the site planned for the film outreach, or have their fetishes cast a ‘spell’ to disrupt the film, or having a radical animistic group threatening to come to attack them if they showed a film. In another village, the only water available was a well provided by a Muslim group, so folk were told that if they became Christians they would not be allowed to use the well, which would mean walking a long way to find safe drinking water.
In one village, where there had been many threats, a large scorpion appeared in the crowd in the middle of the film and later a snake. They were both killed by the Christians, and the film continued. In that village several people said they wanted to follow Christ and they have opened a church there. Please pray for these people and their pastor as he follows up the work; for protection and that the new Christians will stand firm in their faith.
The planned programme was intensive. Mornings were used to follow-up those who had come forward after the previous evening film and also the local Christians. This was done through a series of short films on discipleship. In the afternoons, they would drive to the village scheduled for that night. When they arrived, they would visit the village chief, do door-to-door visitation, set up the equipment and, then as darkness fell, Christian music was projected before the film was shown, with an appeal being made before the end of the film. After everything was finished they would travel back to the main village, often on very narrow bush tracks.
In all, the team visited a total of 21 villages, travelling 3,450 km, with many people saying they wanted to follow Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour, and two new churches being planted.
The team in the north have various projects with a view to becoming more self-sufficient. Because there are few Christians, many of whom are women and children, the financial support of pastors is minimal. The projects they are planning to help raise funds to build churches and houses for the pastors, instead of renting, include raising chickens to supply and sell eggs; a machine to grind corn; and a ladies’ group is buying a plot of land to plant peanuts, so they can make peanut butter to sell down south.
We praise God for safety in travelling and for the smooth running of the car and film equipment and for those who professed faith. Please pray for the four pastors and the Christians who will be following up the new believers. Pray for those who have given their lives to the Lord when they face threats and persecution. Pray especially the many children who have accepted the Lord, because they are beaten by their parents and the women who have a very low status in this area. Pray for wisdom for the pastors in dealing with the families of those who have been converted, for training and resources for those working with the children and for funding for the planned projects.
We thank God for his help, strength and protection throughout the month. Another visit to this area is scheduled for same time in 2019. Thank you for your prayers for this ministry. Please continue to pray for the proclamation of the gospel in Côte d’Ivoire and Mali.