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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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!