Madagascar 2018 post-trip
The past trip to Andronomovo, Madagascar was certainly an eventful one. Our plans were suddenly and divinely changed when a day before we were set to embark on the trip we received word that our veteran missionary who was to accompany us was called home by the Lord. Pastor J was, in a way to us, what Moses was to Joshua and Israel. He had been there and done it. He had himself done pioneer missionary work and I think the team rested much upon his knowhow, I certainly did. Nonetheless, God had long ago appointed the death of His beloved saint.
We drove from NC to Dulles International Airport in VA with a unique type of sobriety that God was doing something and preparing a work which we were just on the precipice of seeing come to fruition. The flight from Virginia to Madagascar was a seemingly endless one. We had a 10-hour flight to Istanbul, Turkey, a 10-hour layover in Turkey, a 10-hour flight to Mauritius, a short layover in Mauritius, and finally, a 2-hour flight to Madagascar and that was the shorter portion of the trip. We would still have 3 days of travel to reach our final destination, Andronomovo. The empty seat next to me in every flight was a constant reminder of the absence of our dear friend. Once we landed in Madagascar, we were met by missionary Dan Brown, who graciously opened up his home for the night and fed us very well. That night we met a man that really can only be explained in the providence of God. Pastor Ernest's epithet absolutely was "a man sent from God." He is a Malagasy man who loves the Lord and has a great burden for the bush people to receive Christ and was an invaluable asset to us.
With Pastor Ernest’s help, we took a bus north for about 15 hours to Mahajanga. We arrived at about 6 in the morning and got directly on a ferry that would take us across part of the Mozambique channel to the other side of the bay in Mahajanga. Immediately after getting off of the ferry, we met up with a friend of Pastor Ernest who happened to be the president of the district that is over the village of Andronomovo. Our group, the president of the district, and his armed guard sporting an SKS with a bayonet all loaded up into an off-road vehicle and drove for about 8 more hours from Mahajanga to Soalala over the roughest terrain that I have ever seen any type of passenger vehicle drive over. I thought dirt roads in Illinois were bad, but none of them as rough as the ones we saw. Abdul, our driver, was very skilled and the condition of the roads didn’t seem to faze him, he just kept on driving.
We arrived in Soalala safely and stayed at a “hotel” that evening. On an unrelated note, we found a place there that sold chilled orange Fanta soda and it was quite delightful. The next morning everyone loaded on a barge to cross some type of body of water. After safety crossing, we all unloaded and from there we would make the last leg of the journey to Andronomovo. Abdul’s driving skills and the off-road vehicle continued to impress us as he somehow drove through seemingly impassable roads. It didn’t help that it had rained the night we spent in Soalala so certain parts of the road were flooded with water. We did get stuck in the mud once and we all had to get out as Abdul managed to somehow get the vehicle unstuck. We were about 10 km away from Andronomovo when a hidden stump caught the back left tire and popped it. We began to walk the rest of the way, however, Abdul put the spare tire on pretty quick and picked us up before we walked too far.
When we reached the village, the President of the district called for a meeting with all the Mayors from the surrounding villages and told them what we intended to do and gave us a letter with his seal on it approving all the work we intended to do there. God’s hand of providence has so clearly been seen on the trip thus far, but we would only see more as we continued. The next day in Andronomovo, we went to various places and distributed tracts and preached the truth about salvation through Jesus Christ. Jeremiah Clark, Kevin Carr and I would preach as Pastor Ernest would interpret for us. We met a family that had been seeking for the truth and asked if we would come and teach them the scripture each evening that we were in the village. The several nights that we went there to teach, it was clear that they hungered for the truth. On the last night we were there they all chose to receive the gift of salvation and prayed and asked Jesus to save them.
The night we played the Jesus-film we had about 500 people show up. The team leader Jeremiah preached and told them that if they understood their need of salvation that the next day they should come to where we were staying and we would speak individually to them. The next day was filled with people coming to the place where we were staying at and asking about the salvation. Many that came, received the Lord and prayed and asked Jesus to save them.
Our last day there was unique, the sound of the helicopter certainly brought the attention of the whole town and a large crowd was there at our departure. The helicopter lifted off the ground and within 45 minutes landed in Mahajanga, which before took us 2 days of driving and two boat rides to get from. The day after we drove by taxi bus to the capitol where we were again received by Dan Brown.
So much more could be said about this trip, and certainly, we are praying for the converts in Andronomovo and asking that God would send a man there to pastor the new believers in that village. One thing that stands out in my mind is how much God provided in areas where we had no clue how things would happen. God providentially provided, led and showed Himself great! Christ was magnified and souls were added to His kingdom. May many more follow.
Thank you for reading. Would you take a moment to pray for the converts in Andronomovo and also that God would send them a pastor?