18-04-2016 - 12:36
We have just returned from a month of traveling – and what an awesome trip it was! When we met the leader of a team of missionaries on a remote island off the coast of Madagascar we were very interested in their experiences. What was it like to live a simple lifestyle in a hut? How were they received? What was TIMO like? How does the team function? The leaders suggested to come and take a look. No, not for a week or two, but a whole month. We are very glad we took up the invitation. We have learned so much in a month and enjoyed it thoroughly. You can see a videoreport on our multimediapage.
The island we visited is called Nosy Mitsio and is home to about 2000 people. The islanders live in small villages in simple huts made of natural materials. They fish, grow rice, coconuts, bananas and some other fruits. Some have cows, goats, ducks or chickens. Ancestor worship and special ceremonies called ‘trombas’ play an important role in their lives. The Antankarana have lived on the island for about 200 years, since they fled there from persecution by an evil Merina-queen. Regrettably the Antankarana still hold a grudge against the Merina people group, who live in and around Tana.
At first the islanders were not particularly happy about the coming of the missionaries. Still the team could come. Now, after more than a year the missionaries are loved and very much welcome. Through friendships the missionaries share the gospel and testify of the love of Jesus for them. They are currently translating a set of Bible stories to share with their neighbours. For an example of what that looks like [wp_fancybox_media hyperlink=”click here” type=”youtube” width=”640″ height=”360″ url=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/E2gjju0hcLY?version=3&autoplay=1&fs=1&rel=0″]. Other ministries include teaching about God in the local primary school, helping in the fields, and health education.
Life on the island can be tough. While we visited several team members fell ill and needed medicine. Our family also contracted some infections. Traveling to and from the island is a challenge. Every month the team leaves to buy supplies. The land hardly provides enough for the locals, so the missionaries have to travel 3 and a half hours by boat and another 2 and a half hours by bus to Ambilobe, the closest city where supplies are available. On the island the team members have to walk through knee-deep mud and over sharp rocks – still we heard no complaints.
The goal of a TIMO team is twofold: to train beginning missionaries and to plant a church amongst an unreached people group. The team meets weekly to discuss the curriculum. The curriculum supports the fases of the missionaries’ work. While we were there the team members shared their testimonies, or faith-stories, in Antankarana with each other and their neighbours. As mentioned they are working on a story set to share in their villages. They hope to organise ‘Discovery Bible Studies (DBS)’, a way of discussing the Bible with maximum involvement of all participants. You can read more about this tool here.
With the team we are very curious as to what is going to happen on Nosy Mitsio in the coming months. We believe God has planned and prepared for them to be there. He has his eye on the island and wants it for His glory. Wouldn’t it be great if the veil of fear of the ancestors would be lifted and Jesus would become the centre piece of their lives? Please spend a moment in prayer for:
the team leaders Adam and Lora Willard, with Matimu and David;
Steve and Rebekah Orner, with Ruthanne, Douglas and Heather;
Shawn and Angie Mayle, with Liam, Kailin and Gwen;
and Kelly Segit.
Though isolated they may be, let them experience they are not alone in their hard work to win the Antankarana for Jesus!