Hangin' Out in Karongue

Hangin' Out in Karongue

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Happy Anniversary Gayle!

The greatest gift of my life has been the gift of Jesus Christ. He saved and transformed me, not because of me and what I did nor because of my merit or goodness, but because of His unyielding love and sacrifice for me. That is a gift without rivals and a gift that can only be given by God Himself.

But second on the list is my precious wife, Gayle. And she too is a gift from God. From a human standpoint our "chance" meeting over 18 years ago was absolutely improbable. But from God's vantage point it was another piece of the puzzle of amazing grace that He was putting together in my life.

I often tell Gayle that I was in love with her from the first week that I met her. And she likewise always says that she was not nearly  that quick on the draw. When we were dating we were separated by almost 200 miles (and as she would say, almost 8 years!), but thankfully with some time (and heavy doses of my charm!) she began to see the light!

We both became Christians about a month before our wedding and the presence of Christ in our marriage has made all of the difference in the world. It has been amazing not just to "grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ" as an individual, but to be able to do so with the one that you walk through life with.

The Heart and Hands of a Servant:
Gayle helping our neighbor wrap sheep
intestines around the lining of a
sheep's stomach before they cook it.
Our life together has not exactly gone as we scripted it in those first few years of marriage, but one of the mind-blowing things about Gayle is that she has always been great with where God has taken our family and our lives. She was okay when we left our "careers," sold our dream home, and took our two-month-old son and moved to Kentucky for me to attend Bible college. She was okay because she trusted God and (for this I am eternally grateful and overwhelmingly amazed) she trusted me. Later, when we moved even father away from family and familiarity to serve in Idaho she was equally happy and content. Very early in our marriage she once told me, "I am okay wherever we are because the Lord will be there and you will be there." She has always just wanted to be where the Lord would have our family be. And now we live in a rural village in southern Senegal for the sake of the  Gospel and the unreached peoples here. I have watched her travel this long road to Africa with great joy and thorough resolve as she seeks to be faithful to God's call.

Gayle has always been my biggest "fan" and has always supported me in everything. That has been a huge blessing as we have sought to serve the Lord and His church together for the last decade. But she has supported me enough and with such love and thoroughness that she has never shied away from lovingly telling me when I was wrong or when I needed to think more deeply about something. She has consistently mixed overwhelming love with solid truth in our relationship and I am surely a better man because of her.

Indeed, I could go on and on with all of the ways that God has used Gayle to bless me and our family, but all of those roads lead me back to His grace. I am continually reminded of how undeserving I am of all of God's grace. I guess that is the great thing about grace: you get the overwhelming blessing that you do not deserve. And that is exactly what I got 17 years ago today  
when I married Gayle. Happy anniversary Gayle! Thanks for being the second best gift I've ever received!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Today Muslims all over the world are celebrating "Eid al-Adha" or the "Festival of the Sacrifice." In West Africa the festival is known as "Tabaski." It commemorates when Abraham, according to the Koran, was willing to sacrifice his son Ishmael. (The Bible recounts this story quite differently and can be found in Genesis chapter 22.)

Our neighbors performing their sacrifice
behind our house.
This morning our landlord and his sons went to the mosque to pray while the women and girls stayed behind at their home to continue to prepare for the days festivities. After prayers at the mosque, they returned home and "sacrificed" their ram. The father dug a small hole behind our house with a machete while the boys went to get the ram. They then held the ram on the ground while their father slit its throat and the blood of the ram poured into the hole. And they did all of this with the hope that the spilled blood of this ram would atone for their sins of the previous year.

And next year they will repeat the same process, just like they have done all of the previous years that have gone before.

The Bible teaches that "in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins" (Hebrews 10:3-4). Thankfully, the Bible teaches that Jesus "offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins" when He gave His life as a sacrifice for our sins on the cross (Hebrews 10:12). Jesus, the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world, provided for us a sacrifice that does not need to be repeated, but rather needs to be embraced, cherished, and trusted.

Pray with us today for the Muslims of Diouloulou and southern Senegal. Pray that they might forsake the rams of Tabaski and embrace the Lamb of God that truly takes away the sins of the world.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Pray for Kafountine

Kafountine is more than a big village, but seems less than a little town. For me, it is really hard to describe the place. It is on the coast so you can find a few tourists there (and all of the things that come with tourists who visit rural Africa) and there are even a few Toubabs (white folks) who live there. You can find some bars there (one with a life-sized wooden statue of Elvis out front), a few restaurants, and all along the beach you find dozens and dozens of pirogues (wooden boats that resemble large canoes) with mile after mile of racks of fish drying in the sun or being smoked over smoldering fires. 

For me Kafountine is a place like none other, and not necessarily in a good way. Kafoutine always reminds me of the bar scene in Star Wars Episode 4 on the planet Tatooine: a place filled with people who come from many different places, all seeming to be a little suspect, with an element of danger mixed in (remember that Han Solo does shoot Greedo in that scene!)

We have been to Kaufountine a few times over the years that we have visited Senegal, met a few people, and given away a few Bibles there. A few years ago there was even an attempt to begin a church there by a Senegalese church planter from the north, but we heard that the work was abandoned after less than a year because it was so difficult. We have, however, heard that a group of Ghanaians (people who come from the West African country of Ghana) have a small church there where they worship together. 

Last Sunday we spent the afternoon in Kafountine as we attended a baby-naming ceremony there. The brother of one of the believers here in Diouloulou recently had twins and Sunday was the day that he was to announce their names: Adama and Awa (Adam and Eve in English). Traditionally here you name twins after Adam and Eve.

As part of the ceremony there was a griot (a traditional singer) who sang and announced the names of the babies as well as the history of the parents and their family. We also ate together, drank tea, and the girls spent a lot of time holding the babies. In keeping with tradition, we gave the father a small amount of money to help with the expenses of the ceremony, we gave the mother several bars of soap to help in washing the children and the clothes, and we also gave the father a Bible. Their family is Muslim, but after discussing this with his brother we felt that he would be open to receiving the Bible. We wrapped the Bible in paper and placed it in a plastic bag with the soap so as to not put him on the spot publicly, but as we left I explained to him that we wanted to give him something special as he began his new life as a father; something that could make a real difference in this life and in the life to come.

Be praying for this man, his wife and his young family. Pray for the people of Kafountine who need to hear and understand the Gospel. Be praying for God to call people to Himself and to a relationship with Him through His Son Jesus Christ and then to call those new believers to go and announce the Good News. Be praying all Senegal for Christ!