One minute I had a free, relaxing weekend ahead of me, and the next, I was catching 2 buses and a bush taxi, travelling across the country with Abbey. There are times when I’m extra thankful to God that He gave me extroverted qualities, so that when adventures pop up out of nowhere like this, I am filled with a rush of excitement and abounding in energy (often neglecting finer details, but that’s another story). For the two weeks prior to this impulsive voyage, Abbie and her Ouaga team had been involved in training Burkinabe children’s ministers, who gathered in Sobara, and facilitating children’s camps that were conducted by these children’s ministers in the surrounding, unreached villages. Upon her arrival back in Ouaga, her heart yearned to go back to Sobara to be with the teams as they finished their work in the villages, to hear the testimonies, and to celebrate and praise the Lord for His great and mighty works through these outreaches. She didn’t have to waste much time talking me into going with her, my heart was there too.
After 10 or more hours of driving and shuffling from bus to bus to a very squishy ‘there’s hardly air in here how am I going to survive’ bush taxi, we quietly arrive in a village called Sobara. We are greeted with smiles by a handful of familiar faces and strangers alike as we sit down and breathe in the sweet, fresh air of the wonderful, green landscape. Just as I think to myself, “where is everyone?”, a faint sound in the distance answers me. Quickly approaching is the sound of many voices, singing loudly- praises to the Lord. The beat of the drums and the voices increase in volume until finally a van bursts into view, carrying way too many people than it can “legally” support, with some hanging on the back and some on top, all exploding with joy and excitement.
They cannot contain it.
They don’t stop singing or dancing as they unload themselves from the vehicle, and without breaking beat, they gather themselves into a circle of worship. One song after another, until eventually we need even more instruments to express the immensity of our joy, attempting to worship our God as He deserves. We transition beside the church, where the balafon and drums are played. and played. and played. and played. (And didn’t end until about 3 am, fyi) Somewhere in the middle of that, the ones who were involved in the children’s outreach camps gather inside of the church to give testimonies, pray, and celebrate the goodness and faithfulness of God. As I listen to the translated form of their testimonies (thanks, Abbey), I am amazed at the work of God in each and every heart in that room, and the ways they saw Him moving the past two weeks. The villages that they stayed in for the duration of the camps are known for their sorcery, so it was no surprise that nearly all of them came under severe demonic attack. Almost every testimony involved them staying up to pray all night long. One village even rejected a team for what they wanted to teach the children. Vans broke down. Motos had flat tires. Mysterious bugs living in the sand bit up their arms and legs. They ran out of water. But they trusted in the Lord and persevered through the trials. They prayed and prayed and prayed and worshiped and sought Him, and God gave them the victory. Over 1000 children heard the Gospel in unreached villages. Many came to know Him as their Lord and Savior. People were healed of sickness. And, astonishingly, in one of the villages, the chief lowered his status to bring US water and to serve US for the duration of the camp. (This never happens. Position and status is everything here.) The children who have heard the Gospel will take it home to their families. Thousands of people have been and will be touched by the love of Christ. This is no small thing.
No wonder they don’t stop singing. God really is THAT glorious. He really is THAT worthy. He really will never forsake us. He really will give us the strength to persevere through trials and persecution and struggles and attacks. If God is for us, who can be against us?? He really does want all peoples from every tribe and language to hear His Gospel, and He will enable those who carry His Gospel to reach these people… We just have to be obedient. This is why we exist. We believe in a God who is worthy of the praise and worship of every tribe and nation on this earth, and so we will go and proclaim His Gospel to every tribe and nation on this earth until Jesus comes back.
Oh and by the way, after our team had been out in the villages for 2 weeks and spent their last day praising the Lord all night long, we got up early the next morning to head home in the van that had previously been broken down. Our hope was that it would make it to Banfora, where there was a mechanic who could help us get the parts we need. We drive it one minute down the road and stop for gas….and the worker decides to put diesel in it instead. So we spend the next 3 and half hours removing the gas tank from the van, dumping it out, cleaning it, finding a welder to fix broken bolts.. and finally, we’re back on the road. We get another kilometer down the dirt path and the van stops working… again. We have just enough transmission fluid to turn around and get back to the village and spend another night there. The next day, we wake up early to get a bush taxi, but when we get there, they won’t take us because we have too many people. So we have to wait another hour for the next one. When we finally get on it and have every reason to be utterly exhausted and frustrated, instead- our team sings. Not just in a way to take our minds off the situation….they just can’t stop giving glory to God. The praise and adoration in our hearts is true. We sang to our King for the entire 3 hour drive to Banfora. One woman who got on the bush taxi for a brief ride, ended up getting off, smiling, and saying that she was going to start going to church. There is something about the joy that God gives His children that is simply captivating to the world around us. Without Him, it’s unattainable. With Him, there are inexhaustible fountains of joy.
After the bush taxi, and two more buses, we succeeded in smelling bad enough to cause Heidi to roll down her windows, gasping for fresh air as she drove us home.
To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amina!!!