They Will Continue…

When I was told about the strategy of TIMO I went through a process of responses. I liked the non-imposing style of entering a rural community to live and learn the language and culture of the Sakalava, but would it prove to be an effective model? And what would our family be doing on a practical level from day-to-day? Two and half years is an investment, and will it have been worth it when our team comes to an end?

11741220_10204474877342005_6983437234393754628_o

photo taken by Tori Alverson

As I reflect on these two and half years I am filled with assurance…assurance of Christ…assurance of God’s sovereignty…assurance that this is exactly where God wanted our family, and our team, for this season of our lives. TIMO’s strategy has given us a strong foundation for ministry among the Sakalava people. In the beginning, we had to learn how to be still…simply present…learning language…learning culture, and though we’ve made many mistakes, the Lord has blessed our souls and our ministry.

_DSC0079

photo taken by James Loney

Spending time focused on relationships and learning the language brought Ladis, Matis and Edme into our lives, and as a result God has blessed the creation of a collection of Sakalava worship songs. The creation of new, gospel centered songs will continue as we prepare to depart…

_DSC0216

photo taken by James Loney

Rosina and another member of our team formed a group with local friends, Herdiny and Francois, who committed themselves to translating the Bible into Sakalava. After agreeing on what scripture should be translated first, the team began Bible translation and the first work is in the process of being printed. Sakalave Bible translation will continue as we prepare to depart…

_DSC0475

photo taken by James Loney

With our growing Sakalava language abilities, Sakalava worship songs, and the beginnings of the Sakalava Bible there was every reason to begin sharing these blessings with our friends. That is how the creation of The Gathering came to fruition. The Gathering became a monthly event where we used our new language to present the gospel message to our neighbors through word, song and prayer. The Gathering has taken place in 5 villages covering the biblical narrative from creation, fall, redemption and restoration. Our team has organized and participated in over 25 gatherings with more than 500 people hearing the stories in their first language. The Gathering will continue as we prepare to depart…

_DSC0457

photo taken by James Loney

As a result of our friends hearing the gospel message through The Gathering we have seen Blondiny, Angela, Mbotisara, Alexi and their family confess their sin and receive Christ into their hearts. That led our team to ask ourselves how we are to come alongside them in their new faith in Christ. And their faith was the start of a Sakalava church plant that began on Sunday, June 21, 2015 on simple grass mats under a mango tree at the home of the new believing family. The transition from The Gathering to the formation of a church was seamless. The model that the Lord had established through The Gathering was an automatic movement to a church. The new Sakalava church plant will continue as we prepare to depart…

_DSC0095

photo taken by James Loney

The band is attending church on Sunday mornings and leading worship. They have been empowered in their gifts and are fulfilled in creating and singing songs to God. At church we hear our friends praying to God aloud, confessing sins, sharing testimonies, and our hearts are in awe at what He has done.

11064822_10204458625135710_5512882273966184093_o

photo taken by Tori Alverson

TIMO’s strategy has been successful in our team’s situation, but what has made our team most effective is the work of the Holy Spirit. The story of our team is God’s story…it’s a redemptive story…it’s the work of the Holy Spirit by means of our broken efforts. Our team has managed to place itself in a position where we are able to say goodbye, and leave knowing that our villages are more equipped to journey on the road with Jesus. The work our team has started will continue even as we prepare to depart, and Bryan and I lift our hands to Jesus for making this possible. Praise God!

Extra photos of life in Madagascar follow…Rebe

_DSC0509

photo taken by James Loney

11401132_10152954003298170_2602775107148207669_n

We take a boat to arrive at this village for another gathering…

11216489_10204409282702180_4009547999710272774_o

photo taken by Tori Alverson

11099318_10154220000719848_2771738077920029203_n

Hudson and Miriandra were born just 4 days apart. -photo taken by Kelsie Bonow

_DSC0914

photo taken by James Loney

_DSC0905

photo taken by James Loney

_DSC0877

In our front yard. -photo taken by James Loney

_DSC0876

photo taken by James Loney

_DSC0874

The band came over to hangout at our place and brought us delicious coconuts. -photo taken by James Loney

_DSC0871

Batting practice. -photo taken by James Loney

_DSC0461

photo taken by James Loney

_DSC0425

photo taken by James Loney

_DSC0418

Game time at the gathering. -photo taken by James Loney

_DSC0378

We take a boat to 3 villages for our team’s gathering. -photo taken by James Loney

_DSC0362

photo taken by James Loney

_DSC0349

Loading up the boats and heading to a new village for another gathering. -photo taken by James Loney

_DSC0271

Camden, Edme, Rivaldo and Franklin. -photo taken by James Loney

_DSC0264

photo taken by James Loney

_DSC0171

This picture was taken on our porch with local friends who create and play music, speak, pray and lead at the gatherings. This group will continue the gatherings even as we prepare to depart. -photo taken by James Loney

_DSC0112

Following the gathering, we are preparing to board the boats and return back to our village and back to our huts for the night. We get to fish along the way. We’ve caught Barracuda and King Mackerel. -photo taken by James Loney

_DSC0103

We’ve walked miles and miles to and from gatherings. -photo taken by James Loney

_DSC0089

Hudson has learned to sit up on his own. -photo taken by James Loney

_DSC0041

A game of duck-duck-goose. -photo taken by James Loney

_DSC0009

On our way to another gathering. -photo taken by James Loney

SONY DSC

King Mackerel -photo taken by James Loney

DSC_0828

photo taken by James Loney

DSC_0775

Bryan sharing the story of Jesus being crucified and the thief who hung beside him. -photo taken by James Loney

DSC_0749

photo taken by James Loney

DSC_0735

photo taken by James Loney

DSC_0724

Hudson and Miriandra at the gathering playing together. -photo taken by James Loney

DSC_0647

Buying a few groceries in the village before walking home. -photo taken by James Loney

DSC_0377

The kids love exploring the sea when the tide is out. -photo taken by James Loney

DSC_0409

Finish the day with a boat ride. -photo taken by James Loney

DSC_0184

Fishing in Ambatozavavy, just down the road from our house. -photo taken by James Loney

DSC_0194

Keely scooping water from the bottom of her boat. -photo taken by James Loney

DSC_0213

photo taken by James Loney

DSC_0747

photo taken by James Loney