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God Showed Up!

A road trip to the southwest town of Tulear is an 18+ hour ordeal along some very desolate stretches of road.

A road trip to the southwest town of Tulear is an 18+ hour ordeal along some very long stretches of road.

Over the past few weeks we have taken several trips to various parts of the island to visit and encourage pastors. As this year draws to a close, we would like to share with you one story from these recent journeys that illustrate God’s provision for his people in difficult places.

During a recent road trip with several church leaders, to the southwest coast, we stopped in the small town of Ilakaka (Ee lack a ka) to hear from our pastor there. Ilakaka is the center of the sapphire mining industry in Madagascar. It is as close to a wild-west gold mining town as you can get here. Everywhere around the town are holes and pits from some eager miner who was hoping to find that big stone. In fact the ground around the town is like Swiss cheese with interconnecting holes every few feet, going down for hundreds of feet at times.

Thousands of very deep holes like this are scattered all around the town of Ilakaka.

Thousands of incredibly deep holes like this are scattered all around the town of Ilakaka.

In this very difficult and transient society, Pastor Noeline has worked for more than 7 years. In fact, she is the only pastor who has ever been able to persevere more than 2 years in this place. During our visit, I noticed her beautiful new church building, and had to ask her about the story behind it.

The newly constructed church building in Ilakaka.

The newly constructed church building in Ilakaka.

She explained that she has worked in Ilakaka for more than 7 years and baptized more than 300 people in the church, but the transient nature of the miner’s life is very disheartening. People come and give their heart to the Lord, then find a few stones, make a little money, and then leave the shanty town life to return to their home villages to share their small wages with their extended families. No one seems to stay very long in a place like this.

Thousands of sapphire miner's and their families live in a shacks like this one.

Thousands of sapphire miners and their families live in small shacks like this one.

Last year, very discouraged, she told the Lord she couldn’t take it any longer and needed a sign to know that she was supposed to stay there and keep up the work. She asked the Lord to show up in a mighty way. A short time later, God showed up powerfully. An anonymous donor from outside Madagascar, gave money through a third party for her to build a respectable building, replacing the old wooden structure that had been there for so many years.

A very happy pastor Noeline shares with us her vision for the future. God is good!

A very happy Pastor Noeline shares with us her vision for the future. God is good!

Pastor Noeline explained that she was so overjoyed to see this miracle take place. She proudly showed us around the building with a smile on her face. Her spirit is truly revitalized and the church has a new respect in town. As we talked to Noeline, we could see a twinkle in her eye and hear a new determination in her voice, “I know the Lord is with me and together we can do more for the kingdom! Thanks for coming by to pray for me out here.”

Pastor Noeline knows that God has a plan for the people of Ilakaka.

Pastor Noeline knows that God has a plan for the people of Ilakaka.

Tammy and I count it a privilege to work with and encourage pastors like Noeline and many others like her. Thank you for your constant and faithful prayers and support of our work in Madagascar. We wish you and yours a wonderful and blessed 2016!

Happy New Year!

Getting moved back into our home in late August.

Getting moved back into our home in late August.

Tammy and I are so glad to be back in Madagascar and are getting settled. Thanks for all your prayers during this transition back to the island. These past few weeks, the Bible School has been hosting one of our visiting professors from West Africa as they teach another three-week session for our BA level education program in conjunction with the West Africa Advanced School of Theology in Lome, Togo.

The current WAAST extension school class in Madagascar with professor Gnanchou.

The current WAAST extension school class in Madagascar with professor Gnanchou.

One evening, we had the privilege of hosting Dr. Bêchié Désiré Gnanchou of Ivory Coast for dinner in our home. During our meal, I asked him how he became a Christian and he told me this fascinating story.

When Bêchié was a teenager, he was handed a simple Billy Graham tract as he walked down the street. The young Bêchié was a voracious reader and he devoured the free tract, and was struck by what it said. Having grown up in a strong Catholic family, he was familiar with church, but had no idea what the Bible actually said.

Finding a place to read the tract alone, he immediately came under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and prayed to accept Jesus into his life, experiencing a radical change in his heart. He went home and recounted to his family what had happened and he was immediately thrown out of his home for abandoning the Catholic Church. Even with such dire consequences, his desire to read could not be quenched and he set about to find a Bible.

There is power in the Word of God!

There is power in the Word of God!

Since he could not go home, he stayed with an uncle in Abadjan, the capital city. His uncle had a huge Bible in the middle of the table as a decoration. Once when his uncle left the house the young Bêchié snuck over and opened the massive Bible and began to read some of the stories it contained. As he read, his uncle came home, unannounced, and took the Bible away from him and told him he must never touch his Bible again.

Desiring to have a Bible of his own, he began saving every small coin he could until he had enough to go into the local Bible bookstore and buy a Bible for himself. While in the bookstore, he saw a sign outside that said, “Read the Bible”, he asked the person behind the counter if there was a place nearby where he could read his Bible and have someone help him understand what he read. The bookstore clerk told him to wait until he closed the store.

So blessed to have Dr. Bêchié Gnanchou here in Madagascar with us!

So blessed to have Dr. Gnanchou here in Madagascar with us!

Bêchié hung around the store paging through his Bible until the clerk locked the store and then took him down the street where they entered an Assembly of God church. Bêchié did not realize they were going to a church, but thought they were going to a reading room. That evening there were only a few people praying in the building but the pastor kindly help Bêchié read and understand what he read.

Over the years Bêchié grew in his faith and eventually became an Assemblies of God pastor, during that time he continued to witness to his family who, one by one, came to a saving faith in Christ. Because of his love for reading and learning, Bêchié attended Bible School and eventually earned both a Master’s degree and a Doctorate in Theology.

For more than 20 years, he has served as the Director of one of the main Bible Schools for the Assemblies of God of Ivory Coast. In addition to his work in Bible training, He was elected at the General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God of Ivory Coast in 2004 and served in that post for 10 years.

Dr. Bêchié Désiré Gnanchou the General Superintendent the Assemblies of God of Ivory Coast 2004-2014.

Dr. Bêchié Désiré Gnanchou the General Superintendent the Assemblies of God of Ivory Coast 2004-2014.

From a simple printed tract, this young teenager has developed into one of the most influential leaders and educators in the Assemblies of God of West Africa. As you give to programs in the U.S. like Light for the Lost (LFTL) and Boys and Girls Missionary Challenge (BGMC), never under estimate the power of the printed Word. A simple tract in the hands of a teenage boy has had a profound influence across West Africa. There truly is power in the printed Word!

We shared in our last missions service this past Sunday in Plains, MT!

We shared in our last missions service this past Sunday in Plains, MT!

This past Sunday we preached our last missions service, thus completing a crazy, hectic furlough. God has been so faithful. We were just recounting today that in all our travels and speaking, we maintained our health throughout the entire year. God is so awesome! Here are some numbers: 103 services, 91 lunches and coffees with pastors and supporters, logged over 30,000 miles while driving through 28 states (not counting flights), slept in 177 different beds, collected more than 50 little bottles of shampoo, and an amazing assortment of hotel room key cards, celebrated our 25th Anniversary on June 30th while driving 500 miles from Rapid City to Helena, and most importantly, we still like each other at the end.

We have accumulated an amazing assortment of hotel room key cards!

We have accumulated an amazing assortment of hotel room key cards!

This coming weekend we will have a special family weekend with Becca, Caleb, and our new daughter-in-law Alyssa. This will be one last time to all be together to hike, play games, talk, and share quality time as a family before we leave for Africa. During the last few days of July Tammy and I will return to Deer Lodge and begin our final packing and spend some time with Tammy’s parents.

Our family as of July 2015! We can't wait to get them together this weekend!

Our family as of July 2015! We can’t wait to get them together this weekend!

In early August we will travel to Orlando, Florida for the Assemblies of God General Council where we will be involved in several meetings and gatherings before taking a few extra days of family time to see Nate’s parents where they are retired in nearby Venice, Florida.

Following our return to Montana, we will do a little last minute packing and then send Becca off to college on August 16th. Then the following day, after giving one last hug to Caleb and Alyssa, we will head out of Missoula, MT, bound for our home in Madagascar!

We have hiked and soaked up as much of Montana as we can before we head back to Madagascar.

We have hiked and soaked up as much of Montana as we can before we head back to Madagascar.

It was so great to have this year to see all our family members scattered across the country, and reconnect with so many of our friends. Thanks to all of you who have sacrificed so much on our behalf through your financial partnership, spending time with us in our travels, and praying for us. God has been faithful this past year and we look forward to what God will do during this coming term.

Becca’s Summer

Greetings from the road with my parents!

Having just completed my first year at Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri, my summer plans are shaping up to be anything but ordinary. After moving out of the dorms, I joined my parents in Billings, Montana to spend three weeks with them on itineration. We traveled back and forth between Montana and North Dakota for nearly two weeks. We stayed in Montana just long enough for me to finally acquire an official Montana driver’s license! Since I was in Madagascar during the past seven years, there was no way for me to get a permit or license until now. I am so happy that I finally have it! Though we have spent several weeks together traveling, my time with my parents has come to an end. On May 31st I will return to Springfield, Missouri to begin part two of my summer life at Missionary Training and Renewal.

So glad to have my Montana driver's license!

So glad to have my Montana driver’s license!

Back in 2002, my family went through missionary training in preparation for the mission field. Essentially my brother and I went to “camp” while my parents sat through training seminars. It is at this “camp” that I will be spending the month of June as a chief. Missionary Kids are split into different groups based on age, and I will be working with the older kids as they go through “boot camp.”

My original MK group from 2002!

My original MK group from 2002!

Boot camp is an intensive MK immersion experience. Over the next few weeks, our goal is to mentally and spiritually prepare kids from 4th -12th grade for whatever the mission field might entail. We do this by breaking up in groups and sharing with them our personal experiences as MKs on the field, but also by praying over them and speaking into their lives. As far as the mental preparations go, there are a few traditions including: Eating Ministry, simulated Security/Border control checks, and MuKappa (camp)… Each of these activities is planned to prepare MKs for whatever may come their way while maintaining an element of fun. In eating ministry the kids must live by the motto, eat whatever is served with a smile on your face so as to not offend. We as MKs live by it, eating every strange food served. In the security checks, they are taught both patience and that life is not fair as we may confiscate their “contraband” or send them to the back of the line for some unknown reason. During the MuKappa phase, we go camping for a few days, living the bush life. Basically, because I, and fellow college-age MKs, suffered through it when we were kids, we are excited to put others through it as well.

Caleb and me at MuKappa camp back in the day!

Caleb and me at MuKappa camp!

I am so excited to pour my experience and love as an MK into the kids that we will be sending out this year. I remember how much I cherished my missionary training memories and I am still friends with most of the MKs I met during those weeks. I gained so much from my experience 13 years ago, and I can’t wait to give back this year!

I am still friends with the MK girls after all these years!

I am still friends with the MK girls after all these years!

After I finish MK training in Springfield, I will be returning to Montana where I will be an intern at Glacier Bible Camp helping with Family Camp, Teen Camp, Jr. High Camp, and Kid’s Camp. Then in August, once camps have ended, I will be saying goodbye to my parents as they head back to Madagascar for their next term and I head back to Springfield to be a launch leader for the new incoming freshmen at Evangel University this fall. Having my parents back in Madagascar without me will be a bit weird, but it will be exciting to see what God will do in my life here in America. I am used to being away from my parents but having them 10 time zones away will take some getting used to.

Me and my gal on the road again!

Me and my gal on the road again!

April is flying by, Tammy and I continue our travels. We have had numerous services, coffees, and lunches with friends and supporters here in our home District of Montana. It has been so great to see old friends and faces again. This past week we celebrated our annual Network Council by re-electing our superintendent Alan Warneke. During the council, I was asked to speak at the missions banquet on the value of Light for the Lost from the perspective of a missionary. It was a wonderful banquet and such an honor to share story after story of the value of Light for the Lost’s impact on our work in Madagascar. LFTL is the men’s ministries arm of missions and provides funds for Bibles and other evangelistic materials to spread the gospel. If your church does not already give to LFTL, let me encourage you to get involved.

What a privilege to speak at the Montana Ministry Network missions banquet!

What a privilege to speak at the Montana Ministry Network missions banquet!

Being asked to speak for this banquet got me thinking about the value of all the various missions programs that we have in the Assemblies of God. Not only is Light for the Lost a great support for missionaries like me, but so is Speed the Light and Boys and Girls Missionary Challenge.

Speed the Light is the youth ministries arm of A/G missions and it helps us greatly by providing essential transportation and communication to be as effective as possible on our field of service. Getting us where we need to go and equipping us to share once we do get there with PA systems, video projectors, and so much more! There is not a week that goes by that I do not thank God for the youth of America and STL as I crank up my Land Cruiser.

So blessed to have this great STL vehicle!

So blessed to have this great STL vehicle!

Boys and Girls Missionary Crusade (BGMC) is also a huge blessing. The BGMC program provides money to missions projects which are funded by the children of America’s A/G churches. We have had thousands of dollars given to Madagascar for various projects from translation and printing of Bible School curriculum to portable sound systems for the bush, and much more.

BGMC helps boys and girls learn about and give to missions.

BGMC helps boys and girls learn about and give to missions.

Recently BGMC made a promotional video based on one of our stories from Madagascar. It is entitled the End of the Road and it encourages children to be more Spirit led in their daily lives. You can download the story at this link THE END OF THE ROAD.

Tammy and I just cannot express our gratitude enough for the support that we receive as missionaries, not only in the great monthly giving that we receive from our partnering churches, but from the other great programs like Light for the Lost, Speed the Light and Boys and Girls Missionary Challenge. Together we are making a difference in the Kingdom! It’s a team effort!

Our partnering churches are so vital to our work!

Our partnering churches are so vital to our work!

Continue to pray for us, as we are just a few hundred dollars short of our goal for monthly support.

Our Upcoming Schedule
Sun. May 10 AM- Sidney Assembly of God, Montana
Wed. May 13 PM- Watford City A/G, North Dakota
Thus. May 14 PM- Scobey A/G, Montana
Sun. May 17 AM- Glendive A/G, Montana
Sun. May 17 PM- Faith A/G Circle, Montana
Wed. May 20 PM- First A/G Minot, North Dakota
Sun. May 24 AM- Freedom Church, Grand Forks, ND
Sun. May 31 AM- Christian Life Church Plymouth, WI

March Madness

DSC_0269

As many of you across America prepare to watch the college basketball playoffs known as March Madness, we are in the middle of a little craziness of our own this month.

Sharing about Madagascar at a recent missions banquet.

Sharing about Madagascar at a recent missions banquet.

March began with us speaking at Christian Life Center in Missoula for their missions convention. Being back in Missoula was special because we were able to spend a little more time with Caleb, our son, and our new daughter-in-law Alyssa before we hit the road again for good. The following morning, we left Missoula headed for Washington State, leaving behind the great little house we had called home since November. From here on out we will be living on the road as we journey across the northern United States, from March through June, making our way slowly east from Washington towards Wisconsin.

This house in Missoula has been such a blessing this winter.

This house in Missoula has been such a blessing this winter.

Our own personal March Madness finds us criss-crossing the state of Washington visiting friends, meeting with supporters, speaking in churches, and zigzagging our way back and forth across the Cascade Mountains from western Washington to eastern Washington and back again, even making a foray into Oregon to speak at People’s Church in Salem one Sunday evening. At last count, we have over 26 services or individual meetings on the schedule for this month.

Becca flew to Seattle during her Spring Break to spend some time with us.

Becca flew to Seattle during her Spring Break to spend some time with us.

Please keep us in your prayers for our constant travels. Our desire is to reconnect with as many of our individual supporters and partnering churches as possible, while praying to find favor with new churches and individuals who may feel led to invest in us through monthly support or prayer. Continue to pray for Becca, Caleb and our daughter-in-law, Alyssa. They are all doing well, but could use your prayers as they continue their college studies. Tammy also could use your prayers as she continues to work toward her Master’s degree online in various hotel rooms and houses along the route. Please pray for Madagascar which has been hit by severe rains and flooding this past month which has caused terrible damage to many homes and villages. We are so grateful for our mission team members back in Madagascar who carry on the work.

So fun to be able to visit one of Tammy's former college roommates during our travels.

So fun to be able to visit one of Tammy’s former college roommates during our travels.

It is a pretty crazy month, but it has been very rewarding to connect with many old friends and visit many faithful supporting churches. God is so good!

I’ve Got Your Back!

As we travel the United States this year sharing about what God has been doing in Madagascar, many people have asked us what is happening in Madagascar while we’re gone. The truth is… quite a lot has been happening, thanks to a great team of AGWM missionaries.

The members of our Madagascar mission team.

The members of our Madagascar mission team.

Our mission team, in many ways, is like a church staff. Each of us has particular gifts and talents that we use to help move the Malagasy Assemblies of God church move forward under a united vision. Unlike a church staff, our team is also like a surrogate family, when our real families are 10,000 miles away, we act as aunts and uncles to other MKs (Missionary Kids) and we live life together. We worship together, pray together, and we do ministry together. We like to use the phrase, “I’ve Got Your Back!” We look out for each other and when one of us succeeds, we all succeed. Tammy and I want to take this posting to brag on our teammates who continue the work in Madagascar while we are home on furlough.

Aaron Santmyire providing medical care to an injured Malagasy.

Aaron Santmyire providing medical care to an injured Malagasy.

Aaron and Heather Santmyire have been in Madagascar since 2007. They have two great kids, Isabelle and Josiah. Aaron has his doctorate in nursing and practices medicine through a mobile clinic in many hard to access places in Madagascar. In addition to his medical ministry, Aaron is helping to provide leadership to our team while we are in the States. Both Aaron and Heather teach at the Bible School and together they oversee the Assemblies of God orphanage.

Jay Rostorfer praying for people during an altar call.

Jay Rostorfer praying for people during an altar call.

Jay and Carey Rostorfer have been in Madagascar since 2004 and they have four wonderful girls. Two of them, Jordan and Constance, have returned to America, but their two youngest, Jael, and Candace, are still in Madagascar. Jay is a great preacher and does quite a bit of evangelistic outreach as well as Bible school teaching. Jay is also the National Commander for Royal Rangers and is over seeing the translation and printing of the Royal Rangers curriculum into the Malagasy language. Carey has a huge heart for worship ministry, women’s ministry, and leads a regular discipleship class for pastor’s wives, helping them to disciple and mentor the women in their churches.

Dr. Jim Thacker is helping our Bible School and other training programs in the country to move forward.

Dr. Jim Thacker is helping our Bible School and other training programs in the country to move forward.

Jim and Meg Thacker are new to Madagascar this past year, but are veteran missionaries with an education background having served in Zimbabwe, Kenya, Burundi, and several other countries. They bring their years of teaching experience to Madagascar helping our Bible school and extension schools to grow and expand. New curriculum is being translated and printed and new ideas are being formed to help improve the educational opportunities for our pastors and leaders.

Billy and Jo Wilson are greatly loved on the southeast coast.

Billy and Jo Wilson are greatly loved on the southeast coast.

Billy and Jo Wilson have been in Madagascar since 2012 and are also veteran missionaries who have served in the DRC (Congo), Kenya, and Rwanda. They have a heart to help mentor young pastors and develop leaders for church planting in the bush. They oversee our Madagascar Live Dead team on the Southeast coast, training church planters and building new churches where the church hasn’t gone before. They are such a blessing to that region and the pastors they serve.

Ernest and Elizabeth Kisinga are wonderful church planting missionaries from Tanzania.

Ernest and Elizabeth Kisinga are wonderful church planting missionaries from Tanzania.

In addition to these great teammates, we have others who help form a larger team, missionaries working with us from Tanzania, Romania, Reunion Island, and France. Together we are seeing the kingdom of God in Madagascar advance. Tammy and I are so grateful to have these wonderful people working shoulder to shoulder with us. We are so thankful that we can each look each other in the eye and state, “Hey Friend, I’ve Got Your Back!”

Our Upcoming Service Schedule
Feb. 8- Calvary Christian Assembly – Seattle, WA
Feb. 15- Columbia Heights Assembly Longview, WA
Feb. 16-18 Africa’s Hope Planning Meetings Springfield, MO
Feb. 22 AM- Libby Assembly of God Libby, MT
Feb. 22 PM- Troy Assembly of God Troy, MT
Mar. 1 – Christian Life Center Missoula, MT
Mar. 4 PM- Northwest Family Church Auburn, WA
Mar. 7-8 Faith Assembly Lacey, WA
Mar. 11 PM Yelm Prairie Christian Center Yelm, WA

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