July Prayer Letter (by Jason Rishel)

During our first day in Burkina on our recent survey trip, the young men and I went with missionary Keith Shumaker and some of the pastors to a funeral at a village for the father of one of the young ladies in their church. The father, and many of the elders of the village, still followed the traditional animistic beliefs of their ancestors. As we were talking with the pastors about village life and animistic beliefs, the question was asked, “Where do the animist believe the dead go?”

Of all the answers I was expecting, I was surprised to hear the honest answer of, “They don’t know.” Perhaps the spirit of the ancestor will go live in a tree or a rock. Or maybe he will indwell one of the sacred catfish or crocodiles. Or perhaps, if they are fortunate, they can even go to paradise. But their teachings give no clue as to where they or their loved ones will go after death. It is a great mystery that they have to wait until death to find out.

This uncertainty of one’s future after death is held by billions all over the world. Sadly, we know the truth of their fate. But we also know the hope that is found in Jesus Christ. When I heard this, my heart was smitten by how uncertain their lives are. I am excited that God has given Charity and I the amazing opportunity to take to them the Gospel of Christ and the certainty found in Christ!

We had a wonderful time on our survey trip and we enjoyed our time with the young people that went with us. I’m not sure we can really say that we are happy to be back. The two weeks were amazing.  From pastors whose lives were radically changed by the gospel to young teenagers who are faithful to church and serving God (despite opposition from their family), we spent time with some dedicated Christians who are extremely on fire. We learned some valuable lessons from the missionary and the work going on there. We also gathered some valuable insight for when Charity and I go to the country to live.

Our group was able to put on several different bible clubs for the kids while we were there.  The teens did a good job at letting loose and having fun teaching the Bible. They acted out different Bible stories for the kids and even allowed us to set targets on their heads to let the kids knock them off during the review game.  Our first club was at Living Waters Baptist Church, Brother Keith’s main church in the city. We went out early in the morning and helped gather up kids. We ended up having over 200 show up. Despite the large crowd, they listened very attentively. At the end, several came forward for salvation. In fact, one of the young boys who was saved came back to church the next Sunday by himself asking for a Bible so he could learn more about Christ. It is always exciting to see the Gospel at work in young lives. We went on to do four different Bible clubs in the next four days and enjoyed seeing the results of the work.

In the next few months, we will share more from our trip and what we discovered from it. One of the best things we discovered from the survey trip was that we should be able to purchase almost everything we need to live in Burkina in the country. Just a couple years ago, this wouldn’t have been possible. But recent developments in the country are opening it up. Because we can purchase our furniture and appliances in the country, we will not have to send over a container, which could have cost over ten thousands dollars.

Thank you for all of your prayers while we were on the trip. Please continue to pray for Charity and I that we can quickly finish raising the rest up our support so we can get heavily involved in the work in Burkina!


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