by: Winterville Baptist
For Roy it is his favorite time of the year as trees bud, flowers bloom, and crops are planted in the ground. The season brings the promise of life and new beginnings around us. After the cold winter, this change in season is surely welcomed!
Abby with Mommy
also brings to mind the Resurrection story of Jesus! Because of Jesus,
we have new life! And we can share this special joy that we have with
others around us. Now that we have learned some French, we can begin
conversations with others to share our faith. We look forward to
sharing our faith to Fulani farmers and herders when we arrive in
Africa. Even Abby is getting bolder in speaking some French phrases
like, “bonjour,” “au revoir,” “comme ça (like this),” “Qu’est-ce que
(what is this?),” and counting 1-10 in French. It’s been amazing to see her brain process all that she is seeing and hearing. We know she will have many friends her age when we get to Africa. We hope these relationships will be fruitful to us in learning about the Fulani and us, in turn, helping them in ways that we can.
Speaking of Africa, many have asked about Roy’s recent trip to Chad. He had a good time getting to see Fulani ministry in several different settings. His team consisted of 3 missionaries and a Fulani pastor from Niger. They traveled to four locations with three different Chadian national pastors. Each day they would go into a village, introduce themselves, and share the purpose of their visit. On some occasions, they were able to share the gospel with the group of men they were sitting with. The people seemed genuinely interested in hearing more. One of Roy’s biggest takeaways from the trip was seeing how open these Fulani people are to hearing about Jesus. During his time in Senegal, he would take time to build relationships before sharing the gospel. Even when sharing the gospel, he would tread carefully in exactly what was shared so the Wolof people wouldn’t be turned off from the message. While it’s a good idea to tread carefully when sharing the gospel with Muslim believers, this trip showed very powerfully that the Fulani are hungry to hear the good news about Jesus. Roy with Fulani pastor from Niger, who had just taught him how to properly tie this white turban! They both became good friends during the trip and hope to continue their friendship.A goal for the trip was to find a geographic center to place a missionary family who would begin working with the Fulani in Chad. One of the Chadian pastors who hosted us began to introduce as one who was searching for a place to serve Fulani, and wouldn’t it be nice if Chad became his home! This gave Roy comfort because of his approval, but also showed how eager this pastor is to begin planting more seeds of the gospel in the hearts of the Fulani. Chadian Fulani are semi-nomadic, often a neglected people group living on the outskirts of villages and in need of water, food, nutrition, medicine, and animal care. Imagine the response when they realize that missionaries are coming so that they may know of a God who loves them enough to supply for all their needs, who gives them a fresh start with a promise of an eternal life in heaven. Just as the angels shared first with the shepherds the good news of Jesus’ birth, we are excited to go and share with Fulani shepherds about Jesus’ life!
We have nearly completed our year of French studies at Les Cèdres in Massy, France. In fact, the week you read this, we will probably be taking our last language evaluation test. Please pray that goes well, and it shows areas of strength as well as areas for continued growth needed for us. Before going to Africa, we will be back in the States for a few months. Because our location for ministry has changed, our field supervision will also change. Therefore, we will be attending several trainings through SIM (mission in Charlotte, NC) to begin this supervision relationship. Between these trainings we hope to spend time in NC and the Midwest visiting churches, friends, and family. We hope to connect with several of you as we are traveling. Be warned, we travel with a cute 2.5-year-old who likes singing, reading, parks, swings, books, and toys that go crash or splash!
At this point, we continue to be sure that God has called us to work with Fulani. And we are pretty sure that we will be in central Africa, perhaps Niger or Chad. We will continue to work with Christian Veterinary Mission, but our direct supervision in Africa will be under SIM, and we have meetings this summer as we discuss the field, housing, and location for ministry. For the next two years, our plans are to work alongside Fulani people-observe them, learn from them. We will be concentrating on learning language and culture these next two years, likely using the French language foundation we have now to begin learning Fulfulde. Right now, we are planning to move to Africa around September, but we are learning to hold our plans with open hands as we seek God’s guidance.
Please contact us if you would like to hear more about our ministry plans. We’d love to share with you in person! We will be returning to the USA (NC) on April 18.
In His Hands,
Roy, Denise, and Abby
c/o Carol Smith
5770 Turnbull Rd.
Fayetteville, NC 28312
Skype names: denise.ward jrthagard