29 January 2015 // Articles & Stories News

The Bara and the need for Christ

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The Bara

The Bara live in small village communities of 50 to 300 people, scattered across the grasslands of south-central Madagascar, not very accessible by road. Much of their lifestyle revolves around the care of their cattle and their rice fields.

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Petera lives just outside Betroka, Madagascar.

This is the story of Petera. From the outside, life seems simple and idyllic, from the inside, life is complex, troublesome and in need of deep restoration…

A struggle to survive

Born in a small village outside of Betroka, Madagascar, Petera’s childhood was typically Bara. From an outsider’s perspective it seems an idyllic existence, like stepping back in time to a more carefree life where families work together in a communal setting. However, upon taking a closer look, one finds that although simpler in some ways, it is also a life centred on a struggle to survive. With constant illness and deaths of loved ones, never enough food to eat and years spent being shuffled between relatives while his father divorced his mother and went from one woman to the next, childhood was not easy for Petera. While difficult, it was a very typical life for a child growing up in this context. Petera spent many days out watching the family cattle herd, leading them to better pastures on the hot and dry savannah lands of southern Madagascar.

Time to marry

In his teenage years, when it became time for him to marry, the fighting began with his uncle, who didn’t want to give cows for the marriage sacrifice. In a fit of rage, Petera murdered his uncle. After that time, he was tormented by demons, manifesting themselves as the spirit of his uncle, who nearly strangled him to death. With a severely swollen neck, not able to eat or drink anything, his family brought him to the Lutheran Church Care Centre in Betroka. It was here that he was delivered from the demons and committed his life to Christ.

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Adult Literacy Programme

We are thankful for the progress our team has made toward starting an Adult Literacy Programme here in Betroka. In July, some of our team and Malagasy partners were trained to teach literacy using the Bible. Since then we have spent time preparing materials so that, hopefully by the time you read this, we will have begun teaching. We plan to teach at the Lutheran Church Care Centre that offers help to people with physical, emotional and spiritual problems. Pray that this would help meet a felt need for the Bara in this area and would also be a tool for evangelism and discipleship for local churches. Pray for depth in relationships and for God to open people’s hearts.

The need for Christ

About that time, his grandfather sent the authorities to arrest him and he was sentenced to ten years in the Betroka prison for the murder of his uncle. After serving one year of his sentence, the prison guards released him on the condition that he pay them two sacks of charcoal a month for the duration of his sentence. That was a year ago and Petera moved to the Church Care Centre upon his release. Though he truly desires to live a changed life, certain aspects of Petera’s old life continue to creep up and he falls back into patterns of behaviour that do not honour God. Petera hopes to attend the Adult Literacy Programme our team plans to begin at the care centre in November so that he can learn to read the Bible for himself. Pray that Petera will stand firm in his faith and that God will use him and his testimony to share Christ among the Bara, starting with his own family.