When we arrived in Madagascar we lived the first year in the capital, Antananarivo (Tana). In Tana, we started learning the official national language (Malagasy) and we researched where we would live and work on Madagascar. Many on Madagascar live in remote areas. These groups, roughly subdivided into 18 tribes, often can not read or write and speak their own dialect and therefore have great difficulty understanding the official language.
It is our passion to tell people about the good news of Jesus Christ. This good news, that Jesus came to restore the relation between humans and God, is almost unknown among the Antanala of Madagascar. This is why the Antanala are considered to be a so called un-reached people-group. What is more, the Antanala are considered to be one of the least reached people-groups on Madagascar.
The Antanala worship the spirits of their ancestors, they do nothing without consulting the spirits. Do you want to grow vegetables? Only if it is allowed! Marry that sweet girl from another tribe? That will not make the spirits happy! Someone in the family sick? Somebody else has done something that made the spirits angry! These and other thoughts are incomprehensible to an average European but to the Malagasy it is part of everyday life.
From the capital we visited the area where we live now. We spoke with various village elders and asked whether we would be welcome to come and live with them. When the village elders heard that we wanted to tell the people about Jesus, they unanimously agreed to help us where necessary. "If your news is really good then you have to come soon!"
Now, 2018, we have been living in Maroamboka for about a year. Maroamboka is one of the bigger villages in the area. We started to do what our hands found to do (Ecclesiastes 9:10). Clean water supply was one of the first things that we have been working on. If you do not speak the language correctly, it is best to start with your hands and feet. Also, we are trying to create an awareness of the importance of a good hygiene. Things, such as good toilets ore keeping the rats away (fleas on rats can pass on diseases lik the plague) are self-evident to us. These basic things are taught in school. Schooling! Such a privilege, and in the West we take it for granted. It is good to be able to let people share in that knowledge.
We have become good friends with the local teacher Menja. Menja speaks both the official Malagasy and the Tanala dialect. We are teaching him English and in exchange he helps us with the dialect. Eventually he hopes to teach his students some English as well.
As we started to understand the Tanala dialect better, we also started translating Bible stories. Together with Menja we translated 40 stories in Tanala during the first period. For the first time people see their own language in writing! As noted earlier, most people cannot read or write and have a hard time understanding the official national language, Malagasy. How beautiful is it to hear these beautiful stories in your heart language.
Armed with these stories we will go from village to village. Menja is already Christian and as the translations progressed, he became extremely enthusiastic. When we asked if he would like to go to the villages, he responded excited but a little scared at the same time ... "I am not a missionary; I do not know much about the Bible!". No problem Menja! We are in the here to help, aren't we? We sincerely hope that people like Menja will tell the Gospel of Jesus among their own people so that they can make their own choice.
We are convinced that the biblical truths bring true freedom. Free to plant what you want; to marry whom you want; think outside the box whenever you want. With Jesus as Lord you do not have to be afraid of the spirits anymore. These spirits all have one thing in common: They are the spirits of the dead. Jesus, He who has been dead for three days has returned from the grave, is stronger than death. He is the Lord of the living.