Looking back . . .

2016 has come and gone and it is with a grateful heart that we can look back to see what the Lord has done in and around the school. Mission work has most of the times great challenges but it is also full of excitement. At the school; it has been great to see Lynette’s core leadership excel to a higher level of achievement. The Rangers have had its challenges of which the biggest is a lack of uniforms for the new ones from Ranger Kids into the Discovery groups. The Russian Bay ministry has grown beyond expectation and we stand amazed at the change of heart in the village folk of Ampamata.

School – This year’s challenge, for me, at the school is getting the ground fixed that is constantly washing away with every rain. That includes building a proper storm water ditch and fixing around the gate to stop the soil erosion. Norbert has started planting grass which does help a great deal. But a greater challenge is that of getting a new classroom built as the old Malagasy classroom is now beyond repair and leaning over at quite an angle – reminds us of the leaning tower of Pisa. That in it’s self is quite something and would have to be built in stages. I did some paintwork and need to fix Zafitody’s blackboard which fell off some time ago.

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Rangers – The adult Ranger leaders have grown well over the last two years but for this year I will have to focus more on encouraging them (Senior Patrol leaders – teachers) to see the “big picture” . . . of what the kids should become and how they are to profit to a greater extent as previous years. The Bible lesson material is well thought through and good but we lack in exciting challenging skills merits. Kids do not just automatically full into line with God’s ways. We need other things for them wanting to be at Ranger meetings, and then present God’s Word in such a way that they will understand and be captivated by His love for them. That then brings us back to knowing how to present Bible lessons and skills merits. That my friends are not easy – It starts with me. Training them (the SPL’s) to teach in such a way that will grab the kids.

With the Expedition group we had an excellent Junior Leadership camp in Russian Bay during the July holiday. I can still see the great influence that had on their lives as we combined it with an evangelism outreach which they did. Then we had another Junior Leadership Foundation camp done buy Thesi, Yanick and Matt for the Adventure group which were equal as good. Unfortunately we could not get to do a Choose Life camp for the Discovery group but have to get it done shortly. Then we already planned a re-planting of the mangroves in Ampamata for the last week of December but could unfortunately not secure the campsite as Mohamed had clients over that period. We will, God willing, do it now in the April holiday with a combined evangelism outreach.

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We had Thesi’s parents come visit from Germany and had a great time of building relationships. Thesi’s time with us will come to an end shortly and will return end of February.

Russian Bay ministry – it has been a good year for us in Russian Bay and have seen how the Lord softens hearts through building friendships. That I believe to be the key, not just relationships but genuine friendships. Among the teachers and Rangers I now refer to the people of Ampamata as our extended family. With the last teachers training in October we had the village chief who offered to catch fish for us every day, except Thursdays as it is “fady” (taboo) to catch fish on that day for them. I will still find out how that came about.

With the April Ranger camp we intend to re-plant a large part of the demolished mangrove in front of the village. I will use the Expedition group to teach the people the importance of having Mangroves.

Prayer points

*    The planning of the Choose Life camp for the Discovery group

*    New classroom and storm water ditch at the school

*    April camp and out reach in Russian Bay (re-planting of Mangroves)

*    Adult leaders training camp – for Gerhard and Tammy from SA to raise the support needed as they would love to come present it for us

*    Apamata – that the Lord will keep on softening the hearts and show His love for them

*    A teacher for Andranopitily – other village 5kms from Ampamata

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We are prepared . . .

“God did not shower such great blessing on this nation for the Christians to live in extravagance, in self-indulgence, and in spiritual weakness.” ~ K.P. Yohannan, Revolution In World Missions ~  

It is with great expectation that the Junior Leadership camp at the end of July is looked upon. No one has ever been to Russian Bay, save one, many years ago for a day or two. 13 have been picked for the training and evangelism time there. They will be three teams with new team leaders as we work toward giving everybody the opportunity to be in a leadership position, and as we go on we iron out the little problems here and there, guiding them. They are expected to do everything, cooking, cleaning, organising, except the actual presenting of the training. Even the evangelism outreach they have to take care of and that is what we are busy preparing them for at the moment – we are using the CEF Wordless Book method which has been used for years by many around the world. As you well know, Lynette and I worked with CEF when we first came to Madagascar and we still use their teaching which is built on a solid foundation.

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While the Expedition Rangers prepare for their camp, the Adventure Rangers carry on with the foreign language merit using the computer program “Reading Rocket”. They, God willing, will have a weekend camp early in September being presented by our Ranger friends from Germany, Theresa, Matt and Yanick. This will also be based on junior leadership training, but at a slightly lower level as for the Expedition Rangers. The practising for the end of year school concert is also an ongoing thing – I am quite chaffed knowing our Rangers will perform well. Let us remember, Glory and Honour belongs to the Lord for the great work accomplished in their lives.

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As for Gabriel, I had a 15hp outboard motor stored in our container for years. I had half forgotten about it and one day scratching there to my surprise found it. It’s been serviced and ready to be installed. The original motor was 30hp, quite a difference, but it would do a good enough job as a back-up motor moving in and out of the marina in Crater bay where Gabriel resides.

Prayer needed: That the Lord would prepare hearts in Russian Bay for our outreach – it is very much frontier missions as there are no Churches or even Christians in that area.

We urgently need to get funds to our Madagascar account as there has been a blockage in South African now for the past two months. Without funds there can be no school picnic, no JLT camp or evangelism outreach to Russian bay.

“If it be the duty of all men to believe the Gospel… then it be the duty of those who are entrusted with the Gospel to endeavour to make it known among all nations.” ~ William Carey ~ William Carey was a missionary to India…

The Weird and the Wonderful . . .

Great Commission Christians don’t care who gets the glory or who is on the front lines. Instead, they are willing to be goers or senders as the Lord leads. If our hearts are in the right place, we will want to be involved in the battle wherever the Commander-in-Chief puts us. We know from Acts 1:8 that it takes the whole Church working together to reach Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth.                                                                                        K.P. Yohannan, Come let’s reach the world.

We had four of our American friends visiting us recently and they were hard at work, painting at the school. We called them the A-Team . . .  I love it when a plan comes together!  What is sad is that with time, one becomes gradually used to the deterioration around you that you don’t notice it anymore, but now the school looks great again with a new layer of paint on the doors, windows and gate. They were also visited local churches and a village and gave some medical attention to the desperate and needy people.  We see to it that God’s Word is always shared during these outings. The kids at school also received a good dose of vitamins and de-worming. They seemed quite happy with all the attention. Even Lynette did not escape this time.

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One evening they came over to our house with food already prepared. I was surprised to see . . . and taste their dishes, especially the “what shall we call it” dish, half muesli half tropical-fruit jam mixed in a strange concoction and served with the words “it’s nice, you will love it!” O’ Really! In my wildest dreams I would never come up with such a unique recipe. What can I say – we miss them already. Jokes aside, they were a blessing to us all and we look forward to seeing them next year.   Thanks guys, you are great!

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Moving on to the Wonderful . . . Rappelling

It was the highlight for our Expedition Rangers. They had the awesome experience to rappel off a cliff close-by. Rappelling is a great confidence booster and fear breaker, adding God’s Word . . . confidence goes through the roof.

Some showed more fear than others, but overcame that by eventually going down the cliff with knees buckling and shaking. Vanessa was so confident from the start that she jumped at the chance to be first. One or two tried to hide in the bush, but the commander sniffed them out and in a “friendly and convincing manner” forced them to give it a go, which they did, and enjoyed it in the end. We all need someone, one or other time to give us a shove or two in life. It was only a 20-25 meter drop but a great beginning – after finishing I took them around the corner to show where they will rappel down next year, with many Oooo’s and Ahhh’s looking up at a 40 meter drop and we will God willingly go down a waterfall as well.

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“With God, all things are possible” Matt 19:26 and “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” 2Tim1:7. The greatest thing for me is to see how different our children are to the rest in the village. We really need other team members to expand the ministry further. Just think of it . . . there is nothing greater to do in life than doing God’s work fulltime, influencing others, ever drawing the lost closer to God.

The Land Rover now sports new tyres bought from “Bourhani’s Jungle Store” No, serious friends, that is where I bought them. And . . . for those who still believe the great lie that the Titanic sank. Really? – it showed up in our back yard, or would that that be shore? A photo says a thousand words.

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God bless and remember to stay a blessing to the nations.

People who do not know the Lord ask why in the world we waste our lives as missionaries. They forget that they too are expending their lives . . . and when the bubble has burst, they will have nothing of eternal significance to show for the years they have wasted.”                                                                 Nate Saint

How GREAT to Serve . . .

There are only three kinds of Christians when it comes to world missions: zealous goers, zealous senders, and the disobedient.”                                                                                                                John Piper

We are soooo grateful for being here and being used by our Lord to influence our kids and youth to become more Christ like. It still hasn’t become easier to live and minister here and yet we know by the grace of God we are here to stay till the end. I am constantly being reminded of what someone once said many years ago, before we left for Madagascar. “Missions is a lonely life” . . . even though we are constantly being surrounded by our kids and young people, it still is a lonely life. For Lynette it’s been over a year since she visited her family, for me a year and a half. We do miss our families.Landy

A lot has happened since my last post – the Land Rover received a new clutch plate and is working well again. It took me two weeks, to singlehandedly remove the transfer box and gearbox just to get to the clutch assembly. I thought I seriously needed a year’s rest after that, but instead landed in bed for a week with a sprained back muscle. That’s why I keep praying for team members to join us, so we can joyfully suffer together 🙂

We finished the English translation of our phrase book into Sakalava, which took longer than expected, but they did well with that. Then Lynette started a Drama and theatre skills merit, which they enjoy enormously. Very nice to see how the walls of inhibition falls away and how seriously they take up their roles even though there is a lot of laughing going on – well that comes to an end by next week. You might think it’s a waste of time to do a drama merit but when we come to think of what is lying ahead with our Junior Leadership Training and outreach in Russian Bay end of July . . . it prepares and gives them confidence and the ability to share God’s Word better with the kids and folk of Ampamata, the village where our new school is.

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Even though we have started spiritual teaching for our kids in the new school we covet your on-going prayers for the Russian Bay outreach end July as it is the first greater effort to witness to the village parents – ministry is difficult as they are very much into ancestral worship and witchcraft but by God’s grace and mercy we trust to have a breakthrough into that spiritually dark place.

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We also have the practise for the Saturday Ranger groups, taken seriously as this year I have challenged them to come up with the moves to be performed for the great song by David Crowder – I Am. It is just such a joy to see how they have grown spiritually and taking responsibly. They really bring joy to our lives and we thank God for that.

Missions is the primary task of the church, our Lord’s final command to us before His ascension. Jesus died on the cross to start a missionary movement. He came to show God’s love, and we are left here to continue that mission. Yet this most important task of the Church is receiving less than one percent of all our finances.”                                                                                  K.P. Yohannan, Revolution in World Missions

End of Second Term . . .

The cutting edge of Biblical, New Testament missions is proclamation, conversion and disciple making that leads to the establishment of local churches. Any time this basic task is confused with political or social action, missions lose its integrity and power”.                                K.P. Yohannan, Come let’s reach the World

The school has closed and that means the end of the second term, and so our Ranger meetings have also come to an end. The last two meetings were an official Ranger hike and a leisure time of swimming on a beach close-by. Both were immensely enjoyed as they rarely get time to do such activities in a group. Discovery group and Ranger Kids had a “Fun day” at the school and a hike and Adventure and Expedition groups had a Hike and a day at the beach. Of course a snack is also taken along to be enjoyed. As you know, eating is synonymous with our “Fun days” .

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Please do keep up the faithful praying for our Rangers as Nosy Be can be a hostile and quite a negative environment for young people to grow up in. The next quarter will be an interesting time as I have to come up with ways to encourage and challenge them to conform more to God’s standards. I must say, I thoroughly enjoy working with them. With the direct flight from Johannesburg to our island, Nosy Be you are always most welcome to organise an Outreach to us – come experience what God is doing here!

Prayer; Funds for: Land Rover gearbox and an 30hp Outboard for Gabriel.

If you have found a cure for cancer, wouldn’t it be inconceivable to hide it from the rest of mankind? How much more inconceivable to keep silent the cure from the eternal wages of death?”.                Dave Davidson

Official Ranger Hike . . .

The bedrock of missions is not the value of man, it’s the spread of God’s glory. The commitment to evangelism and missions is rooted in God’s passionate concern to make His name known ”. Steve Fernandez

Yesterday we had our first “official” ranger hike . . . it was fun and awesome to see God’s creation, even though it was a hot. long and sweaty hike. We walked to one of the many craters dotted around on our island and covered a rough distance of only 6.5km’s. Not much, you say but the walk became difficult around the crater itself as many times we nearly landed in the water as the foot path became steep and slippery. It is to the brim, filled with fresh water where our main supply of water for the town comes from. There were a few people catching fish and others washing clothes. We hear the crater even hosts a couple of crocodiles. The locals say they are not dangerous. I don’t really know what that means, do you?

 

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We sited the odd little animal as well . . .

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Crisis management . . .

We need urgent pray; even though we are in the best time of ministry we had two major set backs. First it was one of Gabriel’s outboard motors that seized and is beyond repair, then early this week the Land Rovers gearbox packed up. I am in the process of getting it out to investigate. It seems the main input drive shaft snapped. We can get it to the capitol for repairs but are not sure at what price or even the quality of work . . . or we can get a re-conditioned unit from South Africa somewhere in April, if possible. At the moment it impacts our ministry substantially. Please pray for an outcome as we do not have the funds available.

God bless, as you stay a blessing!

He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field”. Luke 10:2

Taking on the Challenge . . . Working hard

I believe that in each generation God has “called” enough men and women to evangelize all the yet unreached tribes of the world . . . everywhere I go, I constantly meet men and women who say to me, “When I was young, I wanted to be a missionary, but I got married instead.” Or, “My parents dissuaded me,” or some such thing. No, it is not God who does not call, It is man who will not respond ! ”. Isobel Kuhn

As I said before, our Saturday Rangers took to the challenge for the new year like a duck to water . . . and that, fires me up to conjure up more challenges, realistically of course.

We have moved into a three group rotational teaching time and it seems to work the best for our Adventure and Expedition groups. The Ranger Kids and Discovery groups I try to keep the Senior Patrol Leaders (adult leaders) to do both the Bible lesson and the skills merit as far as possible. Whereas the skills merit for the Discovery groups are learning “Sign Language” we are doing two skills merits at the same time with the Saturday groups, which is “Foreign Language” and “Fundamental Doctrines” merits. We do this by having Zafitody do the normal Bible lessons, Euphrasie does the foreign language merit, which is English and Randria does the fundamental doctrines merit. I go from group to group helping out where needed.

Where the Adventure groups carry on with the English Reading Rocket program on the computers, the Expedition groups are busy with the translation of an English/Sakalava phrase/dialogue booklet, which in the end will be printed and distributed to help them, and others outside our sphere. First group finished gets 2 points for Ranger of the Year after which it will all be marked and accordingly given further points on the correctness thereof. Neat, wouldn’t you think? The next challenge I’m thinking of is “Public Speaking level 2” to get them to overcome the fear of speaking publically and obviously helping those who have a low self-esteem. The other is a “World Missions” merit to prepare them for the Russian Bay outreach in July. My brain is working overtime just to stay one step ahead of them . . . tiring business.

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Hope you all read some of what you found on the “Paradise Lost” website to help you in praying more fervently for this nation?

http://stories.imb.org/africa/stories/view/paradise-lost-a-beautiful-island-with-dirty-secrets1

God bless and thank you for being a blessing in supporting us.

God is a God of missions. He wills missions He commands missions. He demands missions. He made missions possible through His Son. He made missions actual in sending the Holy Spirit. Biblical Christianity and missions are organically interrelated”. George W. Peters

A Challenging year . . .

Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on earth”.                                                                                                               John Wesley

A challenging year it is, not just when it comes to our weather as we have now entered the rainiest month of the year. It has rained endlessly since three weeks ago, mostly non stop, day and night. We are not complaining as rain is much needed to keep the water supply of the island topped-up. At the Rangers it is slow going as we need to postpone our meetings from time to time, such as we had to do on Wednesday for the Ranger Kids and Discovery rangers and Saturday for our Adventure and Expedition rangers. This year, as mentioned before, is also our year of “challenges” where we expect greater responsibility from above mentioned groups. We have had a few so far and the next is at hand, nope, no giving up with them. You want to get somewhere in life, you have to work hard . . . but the greater of these expectations is to work hard at conforming to God’s standards as we allow Him to change us into that which He would want us to be. So, for the next few weeks I have given the Expedition group, divided into five smaller groups, a task to translate a phrase book from English into the Sakalava language, of which, incidentally there are none. I had a few Ooooh’s and Aaaah’s but they took to the challenge like a duck to water. All, obviously will count for their Ranger of the Year points.

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I also like reminding them constantly what they are working towards, so a quick homemade poster went up to do just that . . . our July training and outreach to Russian Bay. Somewhere ahead, we shall do an Evangelism merit, giving a few pointers in reaching out to those that have not yet heard of what Christ did for them as it would be a combined Junior Leaders training and outreach to the village we started the school in.

We are also in the process to see how we can take hands with a Christian NGO which specialises in opening doors to share the Gospel via re-forestation projects. We are looking towards using the locals in replanting the devastated mangroves in Russian Bay. Please pray for insight on how to start and manage it.

Feel free to contact me if you have questions or suggestions; driesdej@gmail.com

O, that I had a thousand lives, and a thousand bodies! All of them should be devoted to no other employment but to preach Christ to these degraded, despised, yet beloved mortals”.             Robert Moffat

Wet and muddy

If missions languish, it is because the whole life of godliness is feeble. The command to go everywhere and preach to everybody is not obeyed until the will is lost by self-surrender in the will of God. Living, praying, giving and going will always be found together.” Arthur Pierson

It is a difficult time of the year for us as it rains, most of the times non stop. Getting to the school is a slippery busyness and care should be taken as one can land face down in the mud very quickly. And so with the Ranger meetings we have to be innovative to keep the indoor activities interesting and exciting. We have two new faces joining the Saturday group which is nice to see how after leaving they slowly return, one by one. This week Pastor Saido, one of the old Assemblies of God pastors stood-in for Randria to present part of the Fundamental Doctrines merit.

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Junior Leadership training

We are trusting God to be able to do a special junior leadership training for our Expedition Rangers this year and will host it, God willingly, in Russian Bay. We are working on a combined evangelism outreach to the school and village we have become part of. There are no churches or even Christians we know of living within the vast Russian Bay area . . . still totally unreached. When we started with the teachers training there the children did not even know the months of the year, they would talk about the time of the “new moon, small moon, full moon” etc. It was astounding to see the hunger and educational growth in the five days we spent there.

God bless

Recap . . .

I’ve lost track of how many times I had to apologize for not keeping my blog up to date. So after some absence, I will give some feedback concerning our Rangers. I hope you understand that this does in no means come natural to me and I have to work extra hard at a gift I do not have 🙂

We kept going diligently with the Bible lessons as they are laid out as per the Royal Ranger curriculum, but when it comes to the skills merits we do a little rearranging so it suits our Rangers for what we believe them to benefit the most at that moment and time. Even then we have to rethink many of the merits to adapt them for our specific culture here on Nosy Be.

With our school Ranger groups we did the normal Bible lessons and proceeded with a Tools Safety merit. It was the very first time where I had trained our adult leaders to present it as I usually do it on my own . . . must say they enjoyed it and did it well as it was a practical merit and easy to grasp.

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With the Saturday Rangers group we carried on with our Foreign Language merit witch is an English program(Reading Rocket), we follow on our computers. In addition to this we did a Public Speaking level 1 merit, which surprisingly was well received by most. This specific merit I used as a competition to add to their Ranger of the Year points. We will however do a second level in the coming higher rainfall month as we then need to stay indoors. Most did better than expected but we always have the few stragglers that need more than the normal dose of encouragement.

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Some time back we had the privilege to run into a group of people from the International Missions Board of the Southern Baptists visiting our island. They are a group of writers, photographers and videographers that traveled throughout Madagascar to communicate the work God is doing in Madagascar . . . and the shocking reality of what is going on behind closed doors. Read more at  http://stories.imb.org/africa/stories/view/paradise-lost-a-jungle-in-paradise and other true stories that chills your blood.

We are grateful for you all as you endeavor alongside to reach the unreached for Christ and praying for this forgotten corner of the world.