Archive for September, 2009

A Thought and a Picture

Below is a picture from Madagascar. It was taken from a helicopter. We were leaving a village that had heard of Jesus and the Bible for the first time that day. We spent a few hours teaching them the Story, and left them with Bibles.


Here is another picture. We did not stop at this village. We flew right over it. The people that you see in this picture have never heard of the Bible nor of Jesus. I don’t know if they ever will.


I needed to see these pictures again, because my comfortable Christianity tries to lull me from the compelling reality of the world’s unevangelized. I also needed to hear again what Jesus said when He looked at needy people:

Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”

(Matthew 9:36-38)



09 2009

David Jones: Pioneer Missionary to Madagascar

David Jones was one of the first missionaries to Madagascar during the early 1800s.  He faced many hardships, but pressed on for the Gospel’s sake.  Through his faithful labors, he developed a written language system for Malagasy (still in use today). Shortly thereafter he, with the help of coworkers and Malagasy nationals, translated the entire Bible into the Malgasasy language.  The Word of the Lord spread rapidly and had free course among the people.  But within 20 years of Jones’ arrival, severe persecution took place at the hand of Queen Ranavalona, including the enslaving and killing of many believers.  God used the affliction to purify His people; and, as so often is the case amongst the persecuted, to strengthen and spread His kingdom in Madagascar.  The years of trial were followed by a period of religious freedom, after which came the bondage of European colonization.  To this day, millions of Malagasy have never heard the true Gospel.

How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?

Daniel put together the video posted above for a class project several years ago.  At that time, the population of Madagascar was 18 million.  The census now reports over 20 million.  (It seems that ever since we’ve been researching this country, the population has grown at a rate of 1 million per year!)



09 2009

Thoughts from Steve Hafler


My friend Steve Hafler is a veteran missionary who has spent ten years in Africa. He filled a crucial role in our Madagascar outreach last month through his familiarity with foreign cultures, sensitivity to unreached peoples, and motivating passion for souls. Below is an account that Steve wrote for his monthly publication, “Across Africa.”

As the helicopter hovered to find a “reasonable” landing pad, in an area where there seemed to be none, the entire village began to gather below us. What do you say to an entire village that was not expecting you today?  When you do locate the chief how do you explain why “you” just dropped out of the sky and why “his” village was chosen over hundreds of others we just flew over?  It gets real simple.  We are here as ambassadors of Christ to give you the most wonderful message in the world, and we are gong to leave you God’s Word to read even after we depart.


This is a glimpse of what happened when I recently traveled to Madagascar with Jim and Paiton Wiginton as we assisted Daniel Threlfall on a reconnaissance mission.  What we saw took several days to process and we remain staggered by the needs across Africa.  We went deep interior to this disturbingly vast island country that remains 70% animistic.  Many thoughts pierced my mind while ministering to these forgotten and unreached people. Thoughts like “why is no one here telling these people about Jesus?,” “do we as God’s children really believe that everyone will spend eternity somewhere?,” and “God is still looking for a man to ‘go.’”  These thoughts can lead to a “spiritual post-traumatic stress” unless we  remember, “Shall not the judge of all the earth do what is just?” (Gen. 18:25).  Yet, the responsibility reveals our failure to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).  We looked into hundreds of dark Malagasy eyes gazing back at us who had never heard the Gospel – not even one time.  We were in villages where there is no  Bible – not even one copy.  I was reminded of the essence of missions – proclaiming to the world that Jesus Christ is the liberator of sin by grace through faith to all who believe.  I felt alive as our team taught from creation to Christ to entire villages gathered to hear “the Word of life.”


In one village far north on the sand dune peninsula surrounded on each side by the Indian Ocean the blind chief, after hearing the entire story from creation to Christ, said “be blessed in the name of our ancestors.”  Pray that he would be unfettered from animism.  We believe many did trust Jesus for the forgiveness of their sin.  Please continue to pray (1) for the Malagasy people to believe in Jesus Christ, (2) that God would strengthen the hand of national evangelists and pastors, (3) that missionaries who are already ministering in Madagascar would be encouraged and effective in their outreach, and (4) that God would raise up and send evangelists and pastor teachers to these lost people.

~Steve Hafler



09 2009