Well, I’ve chewed on what to write in this post for more than a month now.
I was so blessed to be able to go on a trip to Burkina Faso this summer with Real Impact Missions. It’s an amazing short-term missions organization, and it was a beautiful trip. Part of what made it so fabulous was that it was a great team. 10 of us, from all over the US (literally from Washington to New York and places in between). Our team dynamic was awesome; they were such a willing crew. They rolled with the punches, stayed flexible, and laughed in the hard times. That alone makes for a great 2 weeks, no matter what part of the world you are in…
I’ve mulled over what parts of the trip to share about… But I think I’ll stick with a snapshot of what will remain in my memory for years.
To tell this story, I have to give a bit of background. Back in 1997, as a student at ORU, I regularly participated in the Praying Through the 10/40 Window effort every fall. This particular year, I was praying through the prayer calendar, lifting up the people groups and areas of the world that were unreached with the Gospel, and I felt the Lord speak a word to my heart. A weird word.
I had never heard or read this word before, and didn’t know if it was a place, a language, a people group, etc… I had a feeling it was something to do with world missions, since that was what I had been burdened about in prayer at the time I heard it in my heart.
So, since the internet was available at the downstairs computer lab (totally dates me!), I headed downstairs to search for this word and find out what it meant. I discovered it to be a people group in Northern Africa, largely unreached with the Gospel, with many of its people living in war-torn Sudan. Then began my prayer journey for the Fulani people. Many times over the last 15 years, I have prayed for these people to come to know Christ, for doors to be open for the Gospel to be spread among their people in their language. For missionaries to be sent and equipped to love on them and meet their needs. Every time I heard of news of Sudan especially, my heart would be tugged for these people I had never met. I would often worship in Church and they would come to my mind, so I would sing over them, and pray for the Lord to do a great work among this people.
Every few years something would come up where there was a chance to go on a short term trip to North Africa. One of them I considered going on, and pursued it, but the trip itself fell through due to the danger there for missionaries/foreigners.
So, fast forward nearly 15 years! Friends of mine have been serving in Burkina Faso doing children’s ministry, and I’m working for a short term missions organization praying through and planning the trips for the summer. God graciously opened the doors for not only the trip to form, but for me to go! I then asked Joel and Heidi (my friends there) if there were any Fulani people there, and they said YES!
We did many different types of outreach while we were there, but one of my favorites was working with Kate at Kids of Hope. Probably my favorite because these were Fulani boys. Kate runs a ministry to boys who have been put on the street to beg. They are sent off to beg by a Muslim leader who basically pimps them out (not sexually, as far as I know. Just in the sense that he lords over them and makes them go out to beg every day) and tells them to return with a certain quota of money that they return to him.
Kate has been serving these boys for a number of years now, and now has a property in Ouagadougou where they meet and have a safe haven. She feeds them, teaches them about Jesus, and plays games with them. I imagine that a childhood experience was pretty much not available to them if they’ve been sent to the streets to beg, so it was amazing to realize how much ‘play’ is important in her outreach. Let boys be boys as it helps them to be healthy and well adjusted (Don’t I see this in my daily life!).
So, for two days of our 2 week trip, we spent time at Kate’s Kids of Hope. We played with them, laughed with them, shared Christ with them through drama and testimonies, gave them toothbrushes and toothpaste, and sat alongside them while they learned the Gospel message and received food and clothing from Kate and her team.
During one of our ministry times I was able to share with them how the Lord had spoken to me about their beautiful people and how honored I was that He had brought me there. It was not a ‘big’ moment or a fancy moment, but it was so beautiful to see the fulfillment of something the Lord had spoken 15 years earlier. Even still, the moment was not about me. It was about the Lord revealing how he works in the world. He speaks to our hearts. We allow ourselves to be burdened for what burdens His heart. He keeps stirring our hearts for YEARS, not in preparation for a trip or an experience, but for THEIR hearts and lives to be open to hearing and receiving the Gospel. For these boys to be in the right place at the right time in order for them to be positioned not in the property of a pimp begging on the street, but to be in Kate’s loving outreach, hearing the Gospel message of life and hope.
And, another aspect of the beauty of this moment was that as I spoke, it was translated into french, then again into Fulfulde… their heart language. A man there from Switzerland had been working with the Fulani for 11 years and he learned to speak their language/dialect… AND he was there in Ouagadougou, visiting from the village where he had been living during this time, and was able to translate our team’s ministry efforts into their heart language! Who knows if the prayers I lifted up 15 years ago also helped strengthen and equip this man to head out to reach the Fulani!
So, friends, this is not so much a post about Burkina Faso, but more about believing and hanging on to the word/words He has spoken to you. (And if you’ve not heard Him speak in this way, just ask! He will!) It’s about His heart for the people around you- or in this case, the people all the way across the world that need His love. What is amazing though is that through our effort to press into the heart of God, we end up changed and blessed. God allowed me to meet these precious boys, to see some of them accept Christ for the first time, to see their hearts ablaze with new hope and faith in the loving Father God. Truly icing on the cake in my walk with Jesus.