Wednesday, September 26, 2012
We arrived around 9:30am to a tiny, clean village. It was a beautiful mild day, about 80 degrees. I knew it was not a normal village because (1) it was mostly empty, (2) it was clean, and (3) it was very small and organised. I was a little bit confused but I didn't question it because the DIALLO family was so gracious to have 70 people over to their beautiful land. I met the owner of the home, Mr. DIALLO, he is a tall African man who speaks English, French and several tribal languages. African people capitalize every letter of their last names and when they write, they put them before their first name, so mine would be, MCNEIL Sarah. Anyways, Mr. DIALLO introduced himself and began to explain how the day would work. Half of the students would plant trees and half would make bricks and then they would switch.
We started the tasks and the children had a blast. They enjoyed being able to constructively use all of their energy instead of doing regular schoolwork. There were two trees left to be planted when the children were done so I volunteered to plant them. The men showed me where to dig and how to plant the little trees. The tools that they use to dig here are a little bit terrifying if you see them out of context. They are a cross between an axe and a shovel. I asked Mr. DIALLO what I was planting and he was happy to tell me that I was planting a mango tree and a guava tree. He then began to tell me how he shows the African people how to plant trees also. This is when I began to discover the awesome ministry that he has.
The DIALLOs own a working farm complete with acres of millet and corn, pigs, sheep, chickens, and smaller gardens with other vegetables. After I had planted the trees, I got to see the rest of the village just down the road. They have a working store, restaurant and mechanical shop. Mr. DIALLO explained his ministry to me. The round mud-brick huts with straw tops on the property are like dorms for students. People from the nomadic tribe, the Fulani, can come and stay there and learn to be church planters! Also while they are here, they can have literacy training and vocational training. That is the purpose of the farm and shops on the land. How cool is that???
Oh, and did I mention that the training is no cost to the Fulani as long as they help run the farm and shops while they are there? This is the kind of mission that really pulls at my heart!
The Fulani are the largest nomadic people group in the world, with an estimated 25 million people spanning 20 countries across west and north Africa. They highly value cattle and rely on bartering as commerce. They have an extremely fascinating and unique culture. They live out of reed huts and take them wherever they travel, so a traditional church building would never work for them. I love how this goes back to the very roots of Christianity. I think most Christians forget that the church is rich because of it's people, not because of its wealth or possessions. The church for the Fulani is literally just the believers. They are trained at Fulani Ministries to carry the gospel wherever they go and begin new ministries throughout Africa. I love that this operation equips the people with usable skills so that they can still barter. With Mr. DIALLO being from the Fulani people, he understands how important it is to leave their culture still intact.
They could potentially be a group that spreads Christianity to over 20 countries because they know the land, people, cultures and languages. How amazing that God is flourishing the DIALLOs ministry school and working through people to reach people. HE is so loving and full of grace! One huge lesson that I am learning during my time here in Africa is that it is our fault that there are people who have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that is a really ugly reality to have to face, but it is 100% true. Jesus left us with the Bible and the responsibility to teach others about his incredible gift! This verse was in the brochure that Mr. DIALLO gave me before I left that day, "Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved". So true, what I love is that he included the verse that comes right after it, the one that is not always included with the other. It is a bit of common sense and a reminder of our part her on Earth. "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?" (Romans 10:13-14). The fact that this mission not only gives the gospel, but also offers food and work training for those who are interested in knowing Jesus blows me away! I am reminded of 1 John 3:17-18. "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth". I want to ask you to pray for Fulani Ministries and also challenge you to examine what you are doing in your own life that is furthering God's kingdom and helping your brothers and sisters in Christ. If you want to check out the website for the ministry that I visited, here you go www.fulaniministries.org