“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every other name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord." Philippians 2:9-11
Deep in the rain forest, in desert towns, under mango trees, and in small huts in distant villages, churches can be found in some of the most far-off, “unreached” places in Madagascar. But, often few, if any, from the local people group are represented in those gatherings.
Recently I visited the southern town of Betroka, a cultural center for the unreached Bara people, to encourage our new team of missionaries there. I met with the Assemblies of God pastor in the town. He explained that, like AIM, he wanted to reach out to the Bara but he couldn’t understand why they just wouldn’t respond to the gospel.
I was delighted to attend his church on Sunday morning – a small, rented room in the local school. The pastor preached the gospel to about 30 people, but all from other people groups. Where were the Bara? As I examined the service – a non-Bara pastor, songs in a different dialect, a foreign sermon from the highland culture, and the Bible in the highland language – it was really no wonder the Bara felt undrawn to the worship.
The road to Betroka is long and tiring, a dirt track that seems to go on forever. But the greens and blues paint the landscape on a backdrop of savannah grass, plains, and herds of Bara cattle. As I traveled through those vast expanses of green, a cool breeze steadily swept through the valley. And as the team members, all learning the Bara dialect, worked on memorizing Scripture from the new Bara translation of Luke, the strong wind blew in from the mountains. It was a wind of change sweeping through this valley, a breath of fresh air. To hear Christ’s words in a familiar way is to bring truth and hope to people who have not yet heard.
Please pray with us that these new missionaries would have opportunities to build relationships through their study of the Bara language and that through those relationships, a uniquely Bara expression of faith would follow.
*AIM Madagascar has a project for developing written materials in the local dialects. To give to this project through AIM, use fund SR-MAD-110-U Literature Development.