Combined Efforts Lead to First Muslim Convert
During their fourth trip to West Africa, members from Susquehanna Association and The Church at Riverside in Belcamp, Maryland, finally got last summer what they were yearning for — the very first Christian convert in the Muslim-dominated village they adopted five years ago.
In 2006, from the association ventured into Guinea, traveling hours across rough terrain into deep mountain villages to build relationships with the villagers and ultimately to share the Gospel with them.
Since that time, in three previous trips, the association has built a well for clean water in the village, provided electronic devices with Old and New Testament books in the village's native Pular language, and patiently built a reputation with the village's leaders.
Calling this "the climatic year," team leader Dan Sheffield, director of missions for Susquehanna Association, shared that the 2010 team went to the adopted village with a deepened commitment to expose the villagers to the Gospel.
And their faith was met with great success.
A sole convert, receiving Christ in secret so as not to be endangered, agreed that Jesus Christ was the only way to God.
"I want to believe," the person said. "I want to accept Jesus Christ."
An International Mission Board (IMB) missionary, on a family mission trip and vacation from working with another African mission group, helped with translation in the village.
He was astounded by the continued openness of the villagers to the words of Christ. The convert was the first profession of faith that he had seen in five years.
"His whole family said it was the best weekend that they've had in ten years," Sheffield said.
Team member Danny Beasley was excited to share the story of Jesus using a storying cloth from the IMB, which chronologically tells the story of creation to the story of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection.
It wasn't until the end of the week that he actually had the opportunity. He started telling the story with a handful of children. Before he was finished, over forty adults gathered to hear the story.
"It made him nervous, but since it was Friday, the Muslim day of worship, Danny ended up presenting the Gospel to more people than he originally planned," Sheffield shared.
"God has His plans planned. It was a perfect set-up — the perfect day, the perfect place!"
Even with these tremendous occasions, Sheffield was saddened by what he saw at the village this year.
He could hardly recognize some of the villagers from past years because they had lost so much weight. Many looked like they were slowly starving to death.
Even Mamadou, the newest tribal leader, seemed overwhelmed under the weight of the struggling villages he oversaw.
"We think about us having a hard economy," Sheffield noted, "but it is affecting the whole globe."
When Sheffield and his team learned that the villagers only had rice to eat for the past year, they purchased spices and other food items to offset some of their struggles.
The team even left money, intended for food, but most likely it will be used to build a new school for the children.
In a moving speech on the team's last day, Mamadou expressed his gratitude to the team for their many expressions of love.
"There was no doubt that he knew that we loved him. He felt we were the only people from the outside world who showed interest and wanted to help them," Sheffield shared.
"Where it goes from here, I have no idea. It's so exciting," he added. "When it finally sinks in that God is in control, and we're just along for the ride, it's a great sense of relief."
Super Bowl Outreach Seeks to Bring Good News to 'Big Game' Visitors
The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) is part of several other Baptist organizations working to bring the message of Jesus Christ to those who flock to Dallas-Fort Worth the week of the Super Bowl.
Arguably the world's greatest single-game sports event, the Super Bowl's 45th contest, to be played February 6 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, is expected to draw nearly 150,000 visitors to DFW. The SBTC, along with the North American Mission Board, Baptist General Convention of Texas, Tarrant Baptist Association, and Dallas Baptist Association, are joining forces in "Reach 45: The Big Game Evangelism Project."
Included in the Reach 45 events are:
• A "Million-Card Giveaway" in conjunction with the I Am Second organization the weekend of the Super Bowl,
• I Am Second church-based discussion groups,
• A "Souper Bowl of Caring" service blitz,
• Community Watch Party in Arlington,
• Traffick 911's anti-human trafficking tailgate party,
• An NFL-sanctioned Athletes in Action Super Bowl breakfast.
John Meador, pastor of First Baptist Church of Euless, said any church or church group is invited to participate in the Million Card Giveaway, which takes place in the hours immediately before and after the game around the parking areas of the stadium. I Am Second is also promoting itself on billboards and other advertising media.
"Because this 'giveaway' is a card that directs people to the I Am Second.com Web site, highlighting testimonies of NFL players who have given their lives to Christ, the giveaway can also take place in any area where churches desire to expose people to the Gospel," Meador said.
"The momentum of the Super Bowl event allows churches to point people to the positive examples in sports and to the Good News of Christ. The I Am Second Internet campaign is one of the most effective pre-evangelism strategies designed to expose people to Gospel.
For people who have heard the Gospel and want to get involved, I Am Second steers those inquiries toward churches that are hosting I Am Second groups, Meador said.
"The hope is to have several hundred thousand 'hits' on the I Am Second Web site the week of the Super Bowl, and have that many people hear testimonies of 'Christ is first in my life.'"
To sign up for event participation or to learn more, visit reach45.com.
Reprinted from BaptistLIFE, published by the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware; Reprinted from the Southern Baptist TEXAN, published by the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.