When God takes his rightful place
Connected to prayer
This article was first featured alongside our Prayer Diary in August 2017. You can download the August 2017 prayer points here or sign-up to receive future editions by post or email.
“Things will be right when God takes his rightful place in our lives and in our societies.” (Evangelist Michael Fackerell). Karin Mende explains how this is exactly what AIM has been working towards in Madagascar for about 20 years and what their biggest challenges are.
In my ministry teaching transformational development training, we are showing ways in which God can receive his rightful place in people’s lives and societies. Yet many questions still remain. Why is it that in Madagascar there are millions of nominal Christians who are not really born-again? A God who is personal seems to be a foreign concept. People’s lives are a mix of animistic traditional beliefs, mixed with some aspects of Christianity (syncretism). This has many implications for how people view what is true, what is right or wrong, and how they should behave.
Maminirina and Mahatoky
For many years now I have enjoyed working with Maminirina, first teaching Aids and now teaching transformational development. She is a gifted and creative teacher. I recently joined her and her husband celebrating their silver wedding anniversary.
In her testimony, Maminirina shared how God’s grace and the faithful support of pastoral prayers were the glue holding their marriage together. Even through dark times of unfaithfulness, drink and abandonment, God enabled her to show real love and acceptance to her husband Mahatoky. In our first year of working together, I remember many times when we would be in my car, praying and pouring out our hearts to God. What brought him to renewed repentance some years ago was the strong faithful love of his wife Maminirina. Today Mahatoky is a deacon in their church and a leader in a charity. Pray that their marriage may serve as an example for many broken families.
There has been 200 years of the church in Madagascar, and yet for many years there has been no increase in the 50% of existing nominal Christians among the Malagasy population. Why is that percentage stagnant? Many Malagasy don’t grasp the transforming truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Going along with the crowd is easy, but being the one who stands out as different? No thank you! As a result, there are many sects thriving in Madagascar and corruption and immorality are a public evil. What is the key to opening closed hearts and unreached people groups?
The major existing church denominations praise God for their own salvation, but they are not overly excited to reach out into other areas with the gospel. When I asked B*, a local prayer partner, what she thought the major challenges for the Malagasy churches are, she answered that the congregations often don’t have models to follow. Many leaders are leaders by name only, but their lives will not attract anyone to love and follow Jesus Christ. People often attend church out of tradition and don’t really listen, and prayer life in churches can be dead or superficial.
When I asked what hinders people from accepting the gospel themselves, her first response was that there is an unwillingness to leave their ancestors’ ways of life, and a persistent bondage to animistic traditions. People resist change and are ashamed to repent. In the coastal areas spiritual strongholds are extremely strong. There is a belief that God is not interested in or able to help in people’s personal affairs. Let’s pray for God to change people’s hearts, that they may find that he is intimately interested in their lives, and that he has shown this by giving his own life that they might know him.
I work to train expats and local church workers in transformational development and culturally relevant church planting. I hope that through seminars focussed on development that leaders will grow as God’s image bearers and that small programmes will be started.Find out more…