Janaine Basso, her husband Fernando and their two sons, Benicio (5) and Timóteo (2), live in Betroka, southern Madagascar, among the Bara people. Janaine explains how God called her.
I was 14 years old when I knew that God was calling me into overseas mission.
My home church in Brazil hold annual mission conferences, started by Pastor Roberto Welzel (who served in Mozambique with AIM). In 2000, I was at the conference and the preacher shared about the need to reach certain unreached peoples in Africa. I told myself that I would pray that God would send someone to share the gospel with them. In that moment, a voice in my heart said: “You will go!”
I kept that word in my heart, and after a while I shared my desire to serve overseas with my pastor. He was wise, and told me to wait. I did a course in teaching – examining how to teach in different contexts. By the time I finished my course, mission had dropped lower on my agenda. I applied to work as a government teacher. On the day I received the news that I had a teaching job, I received a call from my pastor. He said, “It is today Janaine! Choose mission. Go to Bible school and prepare!” This was a huge decision, but I remembered God’s first call.
At Bible college I met Fernando. We had the same ideas about how God was calling us, so we got married and began exploring how we could serve in Africa.
Fulfilling God’s calling
We met with AIM South America who suggested we serve in Madagascar. We trusted this was the direction that the Lord was giving us so we went, and God has blessed us here. By the grace of his Spirit, the gospel is spreading among Bara people.
As well as life as a mother, wife, and home school teacher, I am also engaged in ministry among the Bara women and children. We have 380 (mainly Bara) children joining us every Wednesday and Saturday to learn about Jesus in our Bible story programme. We have also started a ministry teaching local women to sew, and at the same time we share the good news of Jesus with a short devotional.
Covid-19 has affected our village. Most of our programmes have closed because we couldn’t maintain social distancing. We didn’t know whether to stay or to leave and not be a burden on this country and people. We saw the hopelessness and helplessness of the people, as there have been many deaths from malaria, and hunger caused by drought (Betroka has had a year without rain). God took the decision out of our hands, putting us in lockdown with the Bara, calling us once again to share his love and kindness.
God had more planned
We started asking God how we should share his love, and were reminded of James 2:17, ‘Faith without deeds is dead’. We couldn’t do much, our resources were limited. But we could sit with people, join their struggles, cry with them and share God’s concerns for their lives. But God had more planned.
With the help of partner churches and AIM’s regional offices here and in Canada, we were able to hand out almost ten tonnes of rice. Every week during the lockdown we filled our car and went out to different places where there was no food and shared a little bit of rice and the Word of God. Children, widows, old people and orphans were blessed. In one village, the pastor testified, “The rice you shared opened the door for us to preach the gospel to the people here. Now they are interested in coming to the church.” One very old Christian lady told us, “We praise the Lord you are with us in these difficult times. He used you to look after us.”
So, for now, this is what God has given us to do. Live with the Bara and share his love.