Màiri in Madagascar

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In July 2015 a team of 14 went out to Ile Sainte Marie off the coast of Madagascar to serve in a number of ministries, but ultimately to share the gospel with those who had never heard of Jesus. Led by Rodrigo & Valeska Petrelli, the team included three members of Edinburgh University Christian Union. One of those students, Màiri, shares her experience.

Amazed by God

There are moments in life where God blesses us with a memory of what has passed and a sudden understanding of his perfect reasoning in time and space. Each time I am reminded of Madagascar, I experience one of these moments and it makes me stop in my tracks and wonder at God’s amazing power and providence. I see how all things work together for his glory; each day in every country is overseen by our perfect Father in heaven.


Why I went

Through various discussions with my Christian friends, I came to realise over the summer before starting at Edinburgh University that there’s more to life than getting a first in my degree; than getting a high-flying professional job that earns me a huge salary along with finding my perfect man and having a beautiful family in an idyllic location. Although these things aren’t wrong in themselves, God didn’t put me here to chase after them and leave him behind. He has put me here for a reason: to do his work. And I pray that God will use this imperfect instrument as a way of bringing people into his kingdom.

That’s why I joined a team in July 2015 serving on Ile Sainte Marie, off the coast of Madagascar, where I could use my French language (I am currently studying French and German) and sports skills and share something of the hope I have in Christ.

Now we’re back I pray that God will give me guidance as to how I could serve him in mission work in the future and that he will challenge me to proclaim the gospel outside of my comfort zones.

Looking back on the days, months and years leading up to my trip to Ile Sainte Marie, a small island off the eastern coast of Madagascar, I see a God who really knows what he’s doing. He’s blessed me with a gift for languages and a heart for mission – two ingredients that were stirred within me when I heard of this trip at Edinburgh University Christian Union. He didn’t leave me on my own in my decision-making or my preparations; he gave me two amazingly prayerful and supportive congregations, both in Edinburgh and in Northern Ireland. Their encouragement preceding and during the trip was invaluable to me and the team.

Amazed by his love

The team of 14 (including three children) was hugely varied in their personality and their gifts, each member being employed in an area that was best suited to them. I, not surprisingly, was assigned to the sports’ ministry, being as mad about sport as I am. Here I experienced astronomical highs, but also some eye-opening lows. I didn’t think it would have been an issue to be a nineteen-year-old, French and English speaking female ‘Vasa’ (the word the Malagasy people use for white foreigners) coaching football in Madagascar. I was rather mistaken. But after spending time in various villages on the island, playing football with the young people after a morning of children’s ministry, we saw some real fruit from the gospel message we were bringing to them, both through word and action. Our presence alone in some of these villages was life changing to some people. How we reacted to conceding a goal was to demonstrate Christ. The way we treated each other in a team setting was key to showing how loving God wants us to be. Sport is such an accessible way to spread the amazing news of salvation God has for us through Jesus Christ. I continue to pray for the youth I came in contact with through this sports’ ministry, that they will know the name of Jesus Christ as well as they do the name Zlatan Ibrahimović (a footballer for Paris Saint-Germain and Sweden).


Amazed by his glory

The eight weeks I spent in Ile Sainte Marie were jam-packed with work, from teaching a beginners’ French class to a class ranging in age from 2 to 45, to leading a Bible study at a women’s ministry and inevitably getting dressed up like a true Malagasy. I saw the most beautiful place in the world in all its glory: I witnessed dozens of breaching whales, I soaked up sunny island life from the inside of multiple tuk tuks, I felt the sand on the edge of the Indian Ocean between my toes. And I learned how Christ’s people, from all corners of the world, are connected, intertwined, related through the astounding work he did for us on the cross. No matter where we are, God knows what we need. No matter what language we speak, God hears us, understands us and answers us.

And now I am experiencing one of those moments once again where I can’t help but be amazed at how awesome God is.

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