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Sharon’s News December 2019

I had anticipated that my November newsletter would be the last for 2019, but I have just experienced something which brings to my mind the prophet Jeremiah’s statement about God’s word being like ‘fire shut up in his bones’. He just had to speak! It is something both to praise God for and to marvel at …

What is preventing you from being baptised?

This was the closing remark of the speaker who delivered the sermon at the recent baptismal service. Using Mat 28:19-20 and Acts 8:26-39 as his texts, he gave a very clear exposition of what baptism is and why it is the essential ‘next step’ for any convert. He concluded by referencing the experience of theEthiopian eunuch, but telling it in such a way that it chimed with the lived reality of the assembled crowd.

Understand this: if your ancestry is indigenous to the Guera, being a Christian is one thing, being baptised is quite another. So, if you do decide to go against your community’s ‘norms’ and become a Christian, as long as you are not baptised there is the strong expectation from your community that all is not ‘lost’; they can, by whatever means, encourage you to renounce this ‘fad’ and return to the ‘fold’. They do not easily relinquish their hold on ‘one of their own’. It is therefore not unusual to findpeople who have been believers for years but have not taken the next step; being baptised. To be baptised is to send a strong message about the seriousness of your commitment to Christ. This was the case for one of the youths who was baptised.

If this were not reason enough for rejoicing, once the three candidates had been baptised, the preacher launched a final appeal to the assembled crowd.

If you know who Jesus is, if you believe in him with all your heart, what is preventing you from being baptised?’

There was a movement in the crowd - and then a lady came forwards. She wanted to be baptised!

She entered the water. They asked her:

Do you believe in Jesus with all your heart? ‘

Yes,” she replied.

Are you prepared to die to self and to be resurrected to live for him?’

Yes!”

I baptise you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.’

The presence of the Holy Spirit was tangible.

This lady is the first Christian from her ethnic group and the first to be baptised.

Look at it this way. Augustine makes the epic journey from Rome to England. After however many years of working amongst the home population finally, someone dares to believe the Message, to break rank, to put their trust in Jesus.

Such a step was loaded with consequences not only for that first believer and their community. Consider the Judeo-Christian heritage of England and as much as you can imagine that emanates from it.

Afterwards, we went back to the church building but instead of holding the service inside, the host pastor held the service in the open air. We later learned that a couple of women saw and heard all that took place at the service. They wanted to accept Jesus but are so fearful of the ramifications.

Do please pray for those who were baptised, especially the lady. Pray for the women who witnessed the open air service and also that God will move in an irresistible manner amongst the peoples of the Guera.

Back to School

The new school year began in October. The local protestant church runs a programme whereby boys from outside of the town who wish to attend the local high school are accommodated in the church’s property during term time with their subsistence provided by the church

We are now in the dry season. It gets dark at the slightly earlier time of 18:15-18:30. There’s no television, the radio signal is poor and the boarders can’t really afford access to the intermittent internet. Recognising this, I took advantage of the situation to assault their ears with my language learning efforts. Out of this sprung the opportunity for discourse.

Many of them are Christians so we have been able to snatch some moments to cast a very brief glance at history, as it relates to the movement of God’s Word from the orient to the west. As well, we have engaged in learning some basic English and tried to get a handle on our different ways of envisioning the world. It has been fun and insightful.

Praise God for

- some of the small, seemingly insignificant ways He has used to assure me of His presence with me.

- people who come alongside and help me to develop linguistically and culturally.

- my trip home.

- my supporters.

Please Pray

- for safe travel home.

- that my visit to my GP will not throw up anything of major importance.

- that I will find somewhere suitable to live, long term, next year.

- that I will develop good relationships with the churches in the area that will be assigned to me.

- for on-going cultural learning and sensitivity.