~ Itinerant ministry worldwide; Discipleship; Tribal work in Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Burkina Faso ~
Sharon and I arrived in Abidjan. We will be visiting Ed Enns during our stay here and start our flight home Sunday. We give the Lord glory for allowing us to accomplish the tasks we hoped to do. We were able to get over 20 tons of corn and rice to various Churches in the area, restock the school lunch programs and help with the widows and villagers needs.
When things go well it’s because members of Christ’s body are all participating. Thank you!
A young Christian girl died while we were there. I was asked to speak. It is nice to have the Gospel in times of sorrow. For the Saints we will have a great reunion.
Sharon did good. She helped me in many ways, one being how unique the village life is to the non-initiated.
SFMI Tribal Report
In January/February of 2022 I was not able to return to the tribe as I had been doing for decades, so it was special to be back in the tribe this 2023. During my previous trip in October 2022, it was obvious that the rainfall was not cooperating for good harvests. I continued to follow the weather online with reporting from my frequent phone calls with various Church leaders. We had things organized prior to my arrival, so shortly after arriving we were in the process of distributing over 20 tons of corn and rice to people in need. Church leaders had been visiting those in need, so they were prepared for their local distribution. There were about seven Churches in a radius of 15 miles of us who had food either delivered or picked up from our location. I was so grateful to the servants/leaders in their distribution to the members. Everyone was very grateful to the Lord for this provision. For years, pagan widows in our village had been given food; this year we expanded to the Christian widows among the Churches, that we delivered food to.
I was surprised to discover that the two schools we supply were running short on food. There continues to be more and more people moving into our area. They often send their children to the village schools. All are coming from Burkina Faso where drought and insecurity are forcing people from their traditional homes. The Ivorian military continues to maintain a vigilant watch over the area as we are within 20 miles of the border. Since militaries generally don’t cross international borders, this makes the “frontier” one of the areas for jihadist activities.
As I was paying for the school lunch supplies, the shop owner whispered to me that “bad men” from Burkina Faso had just arrived in the village. The Military from Burkina Faso had chased them and now they were here in our area. As we were leaving, heading for our village, we saw the men walking up to the shop. I knew that jihadists had been in the area in past years; they had attacked and killed military personnel 15 miles from the village; they had burned road construction equipment a couple years ago, 7 miles from the village; but this was my first known contact with them. I trust the locals’ assessment, but really I don’t know if they were jihadists or not. They were rough looking, but they had no weapons. The reality is that there are a lot of new people in the area. Everyone is coming into the area with basically the clothes on their backs having left their homelands under duress. The majority of them are Muslims, but that does not make them jihadists. The believers in the area have to continue to love and yet be wise and discerning; the true jihadists do bad things. The local Churches continue to add to their numbers with the Christian migrants joining the fellowships.
Three wells needed repairs, which we were able to do. A young Christian girl died during our time there, which was hard.
My new wife Sharon, traveled with me and was well received. It was her first international travel and her baptism into international travel influenced her in many ways. I had been told to prepare her… She acknowledged that nothing could have really prepared her for what she experienced. We visited with Ed Enns as we were leaving Abidjan to fly home, and he told her, “Welcome to the family.” I took it in part to mean, “you are now part of the community that can relate to those who have had the ‘African tribal experience.’”
We saw the 1040i medical team. This year there were 2 couples on the team who been in Cote d’Ivoire long before my arrival in 1985 and one old timer who had started mission work in the 1960’s. It was so nice to fellowship with these old Saints who had dedicated so much of their lives for the Lord in that part of the world and would gladly give what remains to Him if He asked it. What a blessing to be among people who still count sacrifice as a privilege and honor for His Name’s sake.
In Christ’s Love and Grace,
Jerry & Sharon