I know it has been awhile since we have posted. Things have just been so crazy here right now! Just a quick update before I get into what I'm really writing about. It has rained twice now and it looks as though we will be getting rain again within the next couple days, which means humidity is high, but right now we are enjoying a nice breeze. Since our last post, we have a new member to our "team" here in Gambia until July. One of the members of the Guinea Bissau YES team has joined us up here until their team heads home in July. Lori is currently traveling in Germany with her sister-in-law and will return this week, so the team leaders from the YES team came up to stay with their team-mate. In exciting news, Elais' parents and sister will be here on Wednesday until July 4, so we are looking forward to a wonderful and fruitful time with them, showing them our work and allowing them to experience part of our life here. Gary and Denise will be returning next week, so we also look forward to catching up with them on how their time has been. Overall our work with the youth is going well, but now that the rains have begun we will see some changes in participation as some will be traveling and the work load will increase.
Now onto what the post is really about. In the United States, we aren't as aware of the spiritual world as people are here in Gambia. We may or may not acknowledge the fact that their are spiritual beings present in the world other than God and Satan. Some of us are aware of the spiritual warfare going on around us every day and others of us either don't believe or are uncomfortable thinking about the spiritual realm. Here in Gambia that mentality is very different. Nearly everyone is aware of the spiritual realm no matter what their religious beliefs.
While Islam is the most common religion here, you will also find idol worship, Christianity or a combination of Islam and idols. In one of our fellowships that we meet with, in the window of one of the houses, there is an idol that one of the non-believers put up. It is not uncommon to either go to an idol for medical problems after visiting the local marabou. A marabou is a witch-doctor and are quite common throughout the country. People tend to go to the marabou for various medical issues or even to curse each other. I know that I wasn't completely convinced about curses before coming here. I didn't doubt that they could be done, but I didn't have much knowledge about them. Most pregnant women won't tell you when they are due because there may be someone who wants to hurt them or their baby by placing a curse on them. We also have friends that are involved in youth ministry through soccer and have seen their players drop in the middle of a game, or a goalie miss an easy block because they have been cursed.
The thought of spiritual warfare has always been a bit unsettling for me and in the U.S. it was somewhat easy to "ignore" or at least not deal with. Here however, the spiritual world tends to be more "in your face" and is very hard not to see, even if you don't want to see it.
Being here in Africa has definitely opened our eyes to an aspect of the spiritual world that we were not fully aware of before. We still have much to learn, but we certainly have received more exposure here than we had in the States. Thankfully we have a God who is greater than any other spiritual power on this earth. While I said before that spiritual warfare is a bit unsettling, we take comfort in the fact with the simple act of prayer, we give God full control of our lives and allow Him to fight the battle for us. Please continue to pray for the Christians of the Gambia, since while it is not illegal to be a Christian, it is not easy either under the heavy blanket of spiritual oppression.
-For the bondage of spiritual oppression to be broken and for the Christians who have bravely stepped out in the name of Christ
-For the Zehr family as they travel to see us over the next 2 days
-For Gary, Denise and Lori as they are all traveling
-For the YES team who will be returning to the States in about 3 weeks
-For our continuing youth ministry. That the youth will understand what we are sharing and the leaders will step up and beginning leading their fellow youth more.
-Overall our ministry continues to go well and there continues to be interest
-We have had a bit a of a breakthrough with the women of Kiti as they have agreed to me, Jess, come and do church in their compound with them since they feel as though they have too much work to actually attend church at the church building
-We will soon have the blessing of sharing part of our lives here in Africa with family!