How do I find the words to express the feelings and the loss of the past week?
The destruction seems surreal and all too real at the same time. Our church and the pastors house was looted, and burned and they lost everything but the clothes on their back and the vehicles that they had with them. It is tragic, especially because this wasn't one isolated incident but happened to numerous pastors and numerous churches across this country.
We have much to be thankful for.
It has been beautiful to watch the church come around them and support them in various ways helping with food and clothes and just being there for them. God is at work.
Please pray for the church in Niger that they will rise up stronger as a result of this persecution. Pray for us as we process what has gone on here and help others do the same. Pray for the pastor and his family as they start over again and the many others in the same situation. Pray for the government as they try to respond to what has happened here. Pray for peace.
I guess it is all about perspective... for me it was a two
house coat morning (keep in mind that both of my house coats are lightweight
cotton and all of my pjs are summer weight), however for my sons it was shorts
and t-shirt weather (one was only because he didn’t remember that he owned a
pair of track pants!). The actual temperature was 14C in the house at 6 this
morning when everyone was rushing to get ready for school. Aahh cold season! If
it wasn’t for the dust in the air (and basically in everything) it would be
almost heavenly. My neighbours tend to disagree with me on that and bundle up
in their winter coats and hats. We were even told this week that there wouldn’t
be Sunday school because “no one will make it for 9am, it too cold!”
I am sure that if you are reading this from somewhere other
than Niger you must be laughing and thinking that we don’t know cold and it is
so true. But sometimes cold is relative to how hot it gets, so I’ll bundle up
in my two house coats and try to remember this feeling when hot season rolls
around next March/April.
Two exciting new developments happen this week: company is
coming and we finally have paperwork with the electric company for the new
building. It isn’t that they have actually started to connect the building to
the electricity (that will probably be weeks if not months away by the time the
power line is put through) but we have paid our dues and so they will hopefully
start the work soon. We are also looking forward to a visit from our boss and
another Canadian pastor as they come to help oversee the first ordination
service that we have in Niger.
He was in the
world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.
This has been
tiring Christmas. I (Dave) preached last Sunday, Christmas day and I’m preaching
again this Sunday. That in itself is not a hardship but Jennifer has developed
a nasty ear infection that has progressively gotten worse over the week to the
point that ear drops were useless because her ear swelled shut. The pain has
made sleeping difficult, as well as bouts of fever. The church had a late night
Christmas Eve program scheduled but Jennifer’s fever started to spike that
evening and I was concerned to leave her alone for too long. (The church
program was intended to start around 7:30 with the Jesus film, and continue on
until 1 AM. I was later informed that it continued until almost two in the morning!)
I made a quick stop at the church with the boys to drop off our Christmas Santa
gifts and then visited a few non-Christian families in our neighbourhood to
deliver cookies. One family lives next to our house in a grass hut. As I walked
into the yard one lady said, “Oh David, do you remember my little sister who
got married awhile back? Well she’s here now and she just gave birth! Come and
see the baby.” In the darkness I was led into their hut and in the faint glow
of someone’s cell phone, a sleeping baby was brought and put into my arms. I
couldn’t help but thinking that in the simple family’s hut with sheep out in
the yard, I was here holding baby Jesus on Christmas Eve. Surprised by it all
my Zarma language skills went out the window, and the family giggled because
all I could keep saying was “A ga bori—it’s good.”
I hope that
somewhere in your holiday season you’ve encountered the Christ who was born at
Christmas. Jennifer is still fighting fever as the pain and swelling moves out
from her ear and into her jaw and neck. We did get to a clinic today and hopefully
the meds she received might allow both of us to get some sleep tonight.
This first picture is what the construction site looked like last week when we where there with the architect and his wife.
The beginnings of a ceiling/floor!
This week we were able to see some advances with some of the walls and ceilings going up.
Building some walls for support!
We are so grateful for so many of you who keep us in prayer. We were reminded once again of how vital that is when a friend in our congregation talked about the accident that he was in this week during bible study. Thankfully his injuries were minor, but driving in Niger is never without its risks.
Holidays have their own challenges here. Please pray for many of the staff at the boys school who are experiencing the challenges of living in a place so different from home and so far from family. Pray that we will be able to come up with some creative ideas for engaging our community for Christ as we celebrate this year. The last picture is one of the signs that the holidays are approaching here in Niamey. I was at a Christmas bazaar today at the American Rec Center where I ran into this.
Our prayer is that you will experience the Christ of Christmas this year in a fresh new way.