Pray for Doris and Stanis. These two men each pastor a small church in two different areas. They are passionate about Jesus. Both are from a different tribe which means they still use a lot of ‘strange’ words while talking with people. Doris received the story set accompanied with recordings. This way he can practise the Bible stories in the Tanala language. Still, he and Stanis have a hard time understanding the need to use local dialects since the Bible is already available in the official (old) Malagasy language. They still assume that all Malagasy people understand the official language, but this isn’t the case for those in the villages who are unable to read and have spent their whole lives just hearing and speaking one specific dialect. Both men have been trained as pastors and as such have been taught that reading the Bible in the official (old) language is required.
Syncretism is a big problem among the Christians. Because of this they are still afraid of the spirits, which causes the unbelievers to doubt the power of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I have access to the kings and elders in the villages (among whom are several important witch-doctors). They listen to me and are surprised by the boldness of the Gospel. Pray that this fearless preaching will have an effect on the other Christians. Pray that they will repent from their syncretistic life style, experience freedom from fear in Christ, and share their testimony with others.
Ancestor worship and witchcraft is an ever present concept in the lives of the Tanala people. It brings poverty and fear. However, they dare not leave this way of life, in fear of the witchdoctors and the ancestor spirits. It is a heavy obstacle when it comes to preaching the Gospel. Many say that they would like to follow Jesus but the spiritual powers are pressing hard on them. Please join us in this cosmic battle field. Pray that the people will embrace the Gospel and they will fully adhere to it.
Pray for the ongoing work on translations. The work on the Gospel of Luke is well on its way. The complete Gospel has been translated and is currently being digitalised (and pre-tested). After that we will have to go through the book to make changes, choose what words to use and what not. While I (Jurgen) am working on that, our translator, Menja, is working on a draft translation of the book of Acts. Please pray for us to have discernment as we translate.
Jurgen, Katja, and Menja have finished translating a set of Bible stories in the Antanala language and have put them into booklet form. These booklets will be used by the nearby church leaders, and hopefully by others in the Antanala area. Jean Baptiste, and his colleague Aime just finished their one year training at a Bible School in Tana and are serving as missionaries in Ikongo, a part of Antanala land. I just got a phone call from Jean Baptiste and he reports that a new village is open for outreach, and many people are gathering together to hear the Word of God. These new booklets can be used to teach them also. Pray for many to believe!
Menja has finished translating the Gospel of Luke! Everything is written by hand and Jurgen still has to enter it into the computer. It is a challenge to determine which words can best be used. Some words such as synagogue or temple are unknown to the rural people. Prayer house or large church could be options but do not cover the full meaning. In such cases, Jurgen writes a footnote with an explanation about the word.
Menja is doing so well that we immediately asked him to continue with the second book of Luke, ‘Acts’. He has already finished 17 chapters.
Pray that many people will read or listen to the Word of God and believe!
The young couple, Doris and Alphossin, who started a small church in Tanamboa, are working hard to get the new believers mobilised. Now, there are plans to construct a new bigger building for the gatherings and activities. The building will become a central place where studies, worship services and other gatherings can be organised. Pray for God’s blessing on this little church!
Menja, our translator, finished the translation of the gospel of Luke into Tanala. Now we need to check chosen words for accuracy. There are 41 stories. We are still working on separate Bible verses to go along with the stories as memory verses. Please pray for this process.
In Beono village the king has been waiting for more than 1.5 years to hear the Bible stories! I started going there last December and am already discussing the implication of accepting Jesus. The king, Iaban’i Velotia (father of Velotia), said last Thursday that he believes in Jesus now! He is accompanied almost every week by the president of the Fokontany (deputy mayor), Iaban’i Dimby. Both men constantly discuss the implications in between the stories. They see it as their responsibility to take note of the Bible and possibly forwarding the message to rest of the village.
Tsiombivohitra village has a young king (Germain). He and his wife believe in Jesus now. The practical side of things is a bit harder for them as they are expected to teach the traditions of the ancestors to the people. Aspects of these traditions are just plain wrong. They realise this and are thinking how to go about this. Pray for the Lord’s discernment for them.