One of the highlights of being a missionary is hosting teams from home. We host many teams each year. Each team has a specific purpose. Some come to build a church building, or to do a medical, evangelical or children’s outreach. Some come to do seminars, trainings or teaching. It is always most exciting for us to host a team that comes from one of our supporting churches. It is a way for us to connect our two worlds. It is wonderful to have friends, family and supporters who have been to Madagascar, who can better understand and relate to our stories.
This last month we had the joy of hosting two teams of special people in our lives. The first team was lead by the Chi Alpha missionary to the University of Montana, Scott Barnett and our own son, Caleb! Caleb has grown and matured in Christian leadership through the ministry of Chi Alpha. Caleb and his team came to work with a group in Antananarivo called Young Christians in Action, a growing group of Christian university students here in Madagascar. Chi Alpha shared and practiced strategies in discipleship, including small groups and one-on-one accountability and Bible study.
It was thrilling for us to see Caleb building a bridge between his new life at the University and the life of his childhood in Madagascar. It was also awesome to see God work through the students, as well as expand their worldview and ministry experience. Here are a few thoughts in their own words…
“I never imagined that God would call me on a missions trip, let alone across the world when I prayed to God to take our relationship out of my comfort zone, I didn’t think he would put me in situations where I had to completely rely on Him.” McKennah Andrews
“This trip was definitely life altering and I mean that sincerely. I learned more about life, love and God in one week than I have in six months. I got to see God’s love in action via the YCA students as well as the various churches. I also got to see how much God’s hand is over Madagascar and I am so thankful for each missionary He sends here. I can’t wait to see how much more YCA builds God’s Kingdom as well as the things He is doing in the individual students.” Crystal Hargiss
“Through this trip God has given me a greater passion to reach students on my own campus. I grew stronger in faith, openness to the Holy Spirit and people. I have never had to rely on God like this before and I will truly miss it.” Anna Managhan
The second team that joined us was a dear couple in our lives. When we were newlyweds at our first church staff position in Seattle, Dr. John and Joann Coppes led a weekly Bible Study for young married couples. We grew in our understanding of both prayer and the Word of God. But most of all we watched John and Joann relate to each other, parent their teenage children, and serve the Lord together. They were great mentors to us as a young couple.
John is an OB/GYN, and has a great spirit of adventure and curiosity to learn new things. Outside of his medical practice, he ministers with the Christian Medical and Dental Association, visiting many countries around the world doing medical training. He spent one week teaching at the medical university in Antananarivo. Joann, with her positive attitude and prayerful spirit came along to help wherever needed. John and Joann joined the Chi Alpha team whenever they could, listening, encouraging and praying with the students.
Serving God is ever rewarding! Our lives constantly connect and reconnect with believers from around the globe. Visiting teams come from as far away as 10,000 miles at times to strengthen and to encourage the Malagasy church, but they always bless us as well.