What gets you attention?
One thing that catches the eye of people here in Burkina Faso is simple yet colorful bracelet. Gold, black, red, white and green beads on a simple leather cord. Kids and adults check it out, touch it and then invariably ask for one. It is a conversation starter; it is an opportunity.
Turns out Tara had experience with these wonderful bracelets. It had the same effect in Moldova for her on a church-planting mission over 10 years ago. Marylee had experience with something similar – the Wordless Book with an organization called CEF. It is a simple tool used to deliver God’s story of hope, separation, redemption, purity and growth in the Truth—with the main purpose to bring people to Christ. The gold bead speaks of the hope. Hope in the knowledge that the God who created us, loves us, and wants us to be with him in heaven – a place with gold streets that is without suffering, mourning, pain or tears. The black bead reminds us that one thing keeps us from being able to be in heaven with God: SIN. The red bead represents the blood that Jesus shed for us, so that we could be redeemed and able to be with God. The white bead represents the purity and cleansing we receive through accepting Christ as our Lord and Savior. By doing this we can be part of God’s family and be with him in heaven. The Green beads leads us to growing in knowledge of God by reading the Bible, attending church, praying and serving God the Father that leads to sharing the great news of Jesus.
A couple of months ago, Tara bought what little supplies she could find here and made a Bracelet. And then she mobilized our little team to get to work! Marylee shared the narrative in English she had used in the past with me. I translated the narrative into French and then our friend Maanou translated it into Dagara. Severin, another dear friend, church planter, trainer of leaders and church leader himself, reviewed and edited the Dagara version. Tara reached out to Mike Oakes and other members of the Oak Hills Church and asked them to make Bracelets. Our friends Cris V, Dee and Sarah brought enough supplies to get us started and soon Tara had the whole family making Bracelets.
One day, early in the process, Maanou went to his village with a Bracelet on his wrist. He came back the next day asking for more. He told us that he had shared the story with five people who accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior. Maanou, proving himself to be an evangelist too, wanted more. We were delighted! Tara, Severin, Jules, Maanou and I met to discuss how the Bracelets could be used. Severin volunteered to lead the effort with local village church leaders.
So last week, we got a blessed surprise. Geoffrey let us know that there was a special prayer service including 15 – 20 villages coming up, and he asked if we wanted to use this time to train the village church yesterday. Our response was a simple, “Yes!”
The day came and Tara sent us off with a bag full of Bracelets, a handful of training guides and prayerful words of encouragement. We took the hour drive through the mud, brush and tall crops to village of Kourkour. Severin, Jules, Maanou and I met Yobancheri ¾ of the way to the village and followed him as we prayed for God’s blessing on the day.
As we were driving, we discussed how we got to this point. I was blessed greatly to be with such mighty men of God. Of the 100 or so churches planted here over the past 10 years, Severin and Yobancheri led about 70 of them! They were trained by Andy Johnson a missionary who recently returned to the states after 13 years of service. Andy used a long-term curriculum called Train and Multiply.
We arrived to the sounds of worship, singing and a crowd of people. A few songs later the team moved off to the side to begin training 30 Village Leaders. Under a tree the leaders were trained Severin with support of Yobancheri. I was amazed and filled with thanks. These men spoke with love, passion and the power of the Holy Spirit. About half an hour later, with a prayer, handshakes and smiles, the leaders returned to the church service that had grown to over 600 people. Severin and Yobancheri delivered the message of hope, separation, redemption, purity and growth to so many seeking the truth! What a great team – Severin, Yobancheri proclaiming the love of our great God.
When we departed, the leaders were asking for more bracelets to spread the Good News. They were so excited to learn that the Oak Hills Church short-term mission would be bringing 1,000 bracelets and 20 Wordless Books.
Please pray for these men as they lead the way here in Burkina Faso. Thanks be to God.