Video: Welcome to Africa

Africa has long been associated with stereotypical imagery of exotic animals, remote landscapes, and thatch huts. But the people of Sub-Saharan Africa are rapidly redefining the reality of what life is like on the world’s second largest continent.

This region is comprised of 44 independent nations found south of the Sahara Desert. One billion Africans living in these countries come from over 2500 distinct ethnic groups, each with their own unique cultures and languages. Yet generally, people across the continent are hard-working, resilient, and generous. They value relationships, community, and respect.

Ministering in this massive, populous region doesn’t come without challenges. Some of them are logistical challenges like accessing hard to reach places, living in difficult conditions, political instability and corruption, the over 2000 different African languages and lack of education. Other challenges include misguided attitudes and teachings like dependency on aid and the false prosperity gospel. The majority of Africans claim to follow animism, Islam, or Christianity. However, in practice, many Muslims and Christians continue to hold on to their animistic traditions out of fear, confusion, and societal pressures.

In spite of this, we are seeing the Church continue to grow. In fact, it is estimated that by 2050, 38% of the world’s professing Christians will be in Sub-Saharan Africa. This estimate is due to Africa’s explosive population growth, most evident in the region’s congested cities and megacities. 60% of Sub-Saharan Africans will soon be living in urban areas.

This unprecedented growth provides numerous opportunities for gospel proclamation and Christian service. Such as: discipling believers, partnering with existing churches, training leaders and pastors, reaching unreached peoples in cities, ministering to refugees, meeting human needs and planting churches among the unreached and in extreme places.

Join us as we face the challenges and take the opportunities to proclaim the name of Jesus along the remote, dusty footpaths and throughout the noisy, urban streets of Sub-Saharan Africa.

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Nalerigu’s Leatherworkers

In a little nook on the north side of Nalerigu’s market sit two men – brothers – who are the town’s gbanzaba, or leatherworkers. Just twenty years ago there were a lot more leatherworkers and they had a lot more diverse work to do. Then the plastic bags, second-hand Western clothes and cheap Chinese products started pouring into West Africa.

Now I only ever see them working on four things: repairing sandals, making chieftaincy cushions, decorative knife sheaths and magical amulets. The latter is one that isn’t going away. In fact, they have a proverb referencing it:

Gbanzaba pɔ’a seaa ni ka kanni.

A literal translation would be “the leatherworker’s wife’s waist has no leather belt.” However, it’s basically the same idea as the old English adage “the shoemaker’s daughter goes barefoot.” The leather belt in question (kanni) is not just any belt, but a magical charm worn by a woman (especially pregnant women) for protection from evil spirits and/or bad luck. Other magical charms the leatherworkers make are amulets with Quranic verses inside and leather charms that bind up secret ingredients and give the wearer protection or supernatural powers.

I enjoy visiting with these guys every time I go to market. I like to jokingly ask what’s inside the magical amulets they are sowing all the while knowing the answer is asiiri (secret!). Once they offered to repair my dying sandals and even gave me a loaner pair to wear around the market until they were done. Now that’s great customer service!



Recent Family Portraits

Some photographer friends recently paid us a visit and took some photos of us (it’s rare to get William in the image!). When Easter arrived, William took some photos of the kids (mostly KJ). Here they are:

KJ at Play

Here are some images from the first few months of this year of KJ enjoying life in and around Nalerigu.

Randy and Kathy Arnett

We lost two dear friends and missions role-models yesterday. Randy and Kathy Arnett served 32 years in Africa – many of those years with my parents in Ivory Coast.

Randy prophetically sounded the alarm about the lies, dangers and influences of the Neo-Pentecostal movement invading and destroying West Africa’s protestant churches. I thank God that he was able to write and publish his book on the topic before he was called to his Savior’s side. It is a seminal work that captured his legacy as a theological educator who wouldn’t compromise Biblical truth yet loved West African church leaders with a Biblical grace.

You can read an article on the IMB website about the Arnetts’ legacy as well as a touching tribute from their friend and colleague Chuck Lawless on his website.

Here are some photos of the Arnetts at some events we attended together: BMC’s 50th Anniversary in 2008 and the 2016 Jubilee Celebration of Baptist Work in Ivory Coast