Madagascar Mission 2018 Report – Love Poured Out and New Doors Opened – Healing Spring Christian Ministries
January was an eventful month with three weeks spent sharing the love of the Father in Madagascar. Our time began with a Fatherheart ‘A’ School held at the Youth With a Mission (YWAM) base in Antananarivo. We couldn’t have been more delighted to welcome Leonard Hays, of Fatherheart Ministries, to Madagascar to lead the school.
Upon arriving in Madagascar, our main goals were to put on a successful ‘A’ School and to spend time ministering to staff and children at Iris Madagascar. These activities alone would have made for a satisfying trip, but as is always the case with God, he had much more in store!
Honestly, the outcome of the ‘A’ School was better than we could ever have imagined. With approximately 40 people in attendance (both Malagasy and non-Malagasy), the room was filled to capacity. When ministering in a cross-cultural setting, it is impossible to anticipate how your teaching will be received, but we need not have been concerned. For the entire week, we watched in amazement as Father continually touched hearts with His incredible love. It seemed as if Father had begun preparing hearts for this school long before we arrived.
At the end of the week, many remarkable testimonies were shared. Freedom was found through heart forgiveness combined with God’s comfort, acceptance and unconditional love. Joy was palpable, and we all celebrated with singing and dancing. The love that Father has for Madagascar is so remarkable, and it was amazing to feel it flowing through us as we ministered.
The next week, after Leonard returned to the US, Bruce and I had the opportunity to share the love of the Father with approximately 40 Iris house parents. What an incredible experience this turned out to be! These are the women who care directly for the children who live at Iris.
As they care for children who have been abandoned and suffered serious trauma, it is so vitally important for them to be able minister from a place of love and acceptance. As with the ‘A’ School, we didn’t know how the teaching would be received, but God once again exceeded our expectations. We felt so much love for these women (and a few male staff members who attended as well). Their hearts were open, and some even shared that this was the first time they had ever experienced comfort in their lives. There was laughter, tears and lots and lots of hugs as Father lavishly poured out His healing love on His beautiful children.
We also experienced a wonderful surprise that week when we were able to connect with friends from the south of Madagascar. Rev. Patsy McGregor (wife of the Anglican Bishop of Toliara) was staying at our guest house before her flight back to the States. We’ve worked with Patsy and her husband on many occasions and were delighted to reconnect. We were also joined for dinner by Rev. Victor (a Kenyan priest we’ve known for some time) and his lovely Malagasy wife Nolavy. (A year and a half ago we were able to lead Nolavy’s father, a local shaman, to Jesus. You can read about it here.) It was a joy to be able hear what God has been doing in their lives, and we look forward to working more with them in future.
Our final week in Madagascar was spent ministering directly to Iris staff and children through individual prayer appointments. We truly love this time when we are able to provide pastoral care for the full-time missionaries and staff who pour out so much on a daily basis. They are truly our heroes, and we feel humbled to be able to pray with them. Praying with the Iris children is no less rewarding. We find that God speaks to them in amazing ways. His heart for these precious children is so huge, and we are always left in awe.
Another exciting course of events happened during our final week, when we were invited by some dear YWAM friends (who had helped coordinate the ‘A’ School) to share about the Father Heart of God with a group of Malagasy YWAM alumni who had been unable to attend the ‘A’ School. We simply shared our testimony of what Father has done in our hearts, and we were blown away by the response. There is no question in our minds, that God is doing something big in Madagascar. There is an openness to the Father’s heart that we never imagined.
If I’m honest, we were pretty wrung out by our final day, but God had one more surprise in store. One of the YWAM couples we’d met knew of a Malagasy Member of Parliament (député) who had held a special multi-day event about Fatherhood. During the event, this national figure had publically repented for not being a good father and husband. We were told that restoring healthy fatherhood to Madagascar had become this man’s passion. Much to our amazement, this very busy politician had agreed to meet us at a coffee shop to “talk about fathers” for about ten minutes. We really didn’t know what to expect from this meeting, but we were touched by his humility and his willingness to meet.
Upon sitting down, we discovered that the député was from Toliara in the south where we have spent much time ministering. Many people in the capital never venture to the south, so the fact that we were familiar with his home created a positive connection. He shared with us that one day while praying he had asked God what the number one problem is in Madagascar. He heard one word – Fathers. Since that day, he has used his public position to speak about the importance of good fathers and even hopes to run a national television program. We shared a bit about our experience of the Father’s love and his interest was piqued. He encouraged us to connect with him on future visits and suggested that there might be a way for us to work together, such as giving us opportunities to speak. We finished our coffee and realized that a ten-minute meeting had become almost an hour and a half. Our Malagasy friends who had brought us to the meeting were as delighted as we were to have had this chance to share something so important with a national leader. Father really is up to something in Madagascar!
So we returned home completely exhausted but with full hearts and a new vision for Madagascar. We now have numerous open doors before us, and we hope to return to Madagascar in October/November to run more ‘A’ Schools with Leonard Hays, share about Father with primary school teachers in a couple locations, and sow more into Iris and YWAM, as Father leads. This is all incredibly exciting to us! Thank you to all who have supported us, and we hope you will join us in prayer for what Father is doing in the beautiful nation of Madagascar.
Rev. Bruce & Shay