26 August 2012

August 2012 Prayer Update

Edited (Sat. evening, our time) to add: This prayer letter went out last week and with the craziness of this last week, I'm just now posting on our blog. Since this was written, the Niger River Basin Authority has told school administration that Sahel Academy is now considered part of the Niger River. Until the waters recede (March/April 2013), we will not be able to use the campus. Lots of work is happening to preserve school supplies and materials and to resume the school year in an alternate location. If you've already read this... still scroll to the bottom for some pictures of recovery operations going on @ Sahel Academy.

"There's fullness in every hunger and hunger in every fullness."

Kazakh proverb

Sometimes, life in a place like Niger breaks your heart. People, including Jesus-followers, do literally starve to death; they go without many basic needs our family easily takes for granted. And then we read verses like:
  • O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing. (Psalm 34.9-11)
  • …for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.... But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God…. my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (selected verses from Philippians 4.11-19)
  • The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. (Psalm 23:1)

How do you reconcile the truth of Scripture with the glaring reality of life evident everywhere we look?

Pastor Tim Challies recently wrote an article, “Can a Christian Starve to Death?” addressing those questions in the context of verses like the ones above, particularly Psalm 23. He concludes:
…The shepherd is leading his sheep through the dark valley because the sheep need to get to some place better than the place they have been. There’s no reason to go through a dark valley unless there is something better on the other side of it. You don’t leave green fields and go through a dark and dangerous valley so your sheep can pick over dried up tufts of grass and waste and wither away. You lead through the valley to take them to something beautiful beyond. It’s not the valley we need to look at, but the destination beyond it. That destination may be death, or that destination may be greater holiness. But whatever it is, that destination is not nothing, it is not meaningless. What this tells me is that any suffering we experience in this life is in some way under the sovereignty of God, in some way under the banner of “I shall not want…”

That idea challenges. Can we look at our apparent lack and recognize that we need exactly such lack? How do we support our believing brothers and sisters (and others) whose lack is immediate, life-threatening and overwhelming? Do we keep on trusting God to provide when we can’t humanly comprehend how another’s situation falls under that “I shall not want” banner? Philosophical belief that “not enough” opens hearts to God’s message while sufficiency stifles portending a greater danger is different than embracing those real and daily wants.

PICTURE CREDIT: www.actuniger.com

Photo by dorm parents, Andy and Nikki Gray:  the road & remains of a house right on the other side of the wall from the dorm.

The needs, physical and spiritual, in Niger are great. We are gearing up for a second grain distribution just as we mentioned in our last prayer letter, this year’s food insecurity a result of drought last year. This year, we are having an overabundance of rain, so much so that the dikes have burst, the low neighborhoods along the river have flooded, homes are crumbling, people who’ve escaped are seeking refuge in school buildings, unfinished constructions, even some mosques. As of Saturday (8/18) morning, local news agencies were reporting 94,000 people affected by flooding, 12,000 homes destroyed and at least 20 deaths as a result. And the rains are forecasted to continue, both locally and upstream. Please join with us in praying for this land and these people we’ve come to love and appreciate. We don’t understand how this magnitude of suffering can fall under the banner of “I shall not want…” but we cling to trust and pray that He uses us to minister grace and help encourage those suffering and losing so much… all around us.

Richelle and the children started back at Sahel Academy on August 8th. However, due to flooding in all of the neighborhoods surrounding the school campus, the campus has been evacuated and classes canceled this week. Flood waters have not actually entered the campus, except where they’ve leached up in the soccer field and around the walls, but continued rains, broken dikes and already saturated earth make us wonder if it is only a matter of time. We did see a catchy phrase, though: “Rain or no rain, God still reigns.” We trust in that truth and are enjoying some extra, unexpected time at home after a way-too-short summer. (Check here for the latest updates on the flooding in Niamey that is threatening the lives and homes of so many, including the Sahel campus and SIM Bible school properties, or here for UNICEF’s assessment of the food/refugee crisis playing out across the Sahel region.) Brendan is beginning his senior year! Rebekah is a sophomore; Nadia is an 8th grader while Anna has entered junior high – attending Sahel part-time and also home schooling. Tori is the “biggest of the littles,” or a 5th grader, Jonathan is delighted to be in second grade and Elsie Mae is finding the full days of school if first grade quite exhausting! Even Mary Michelle starts preschool work this year. Richelle continues with her work in Sahel’s Center for Academic Progress; everyone anticipates a great school year, so we hope school resumes soon.

Other news? Thanks once again to our "radio preachers" Rabo Godi and Pastor Soumaila Laabo! These men diligently prepare programs week after week to air in the capital city and throughout Niger. They wonderfully touch on many themes and subjects, clearly demonstrating how the Bible addresses a rich wealth of subjects. Sometimes they ask a simple question such as "What does God's Word say about unemployment? or “Does God give specific instruction regarding the family?” Other times, they present Q&A roundtable discussions. Each theme is carefully chosen, prayed over and then prepared to present the Gospel, to advance God's kingdom here in Niger, and to edify the church. Please keep them in your prayers. This past month they presented a series on fasting, and true Christianity as a relationship with Jesus Christ instead of just another religion where man is seeking to please God.

In other activities, we have been recording the Gospel of Matthew in West Niger Fulfulde. One missionary friend shared that these scriptures will be used immediately to help disciple 19 new Jesus-followers out in one of the villages. Recordings are placed on SD cards or chips and then loaded into "Proclaimer" mp3-type players. Some of these players are powered by solar energy, which is usually quite abundant here in Niger. We also have been recording the book of Psalms in the Zarma language.

We have a number of film audio tracks in the works for this autumn. Please pray for a project to record a French language track for a film addressing the use of child soldiers (according to
recent news reports, personal stories such as this one as well as this UNICEF publication, a now growing problem in our part of the world)…

Photo: H.Caux/UNHCR

Since January, the fighting has displaced some 95,000 people within Mali and has forced more than 100,000 to flee.
…as well as the testimony of how one young man came to make a commitment to Christ. Investigation and research (into the recording of a Tamajeq version of the film The Godman as well as a Tamajeq version of the More than Dreams short story on the life an Egyptian man named Khalil who came to know the Lord as a result of his study of the Bible) also continue. Thank you for your faithful prayers for wisdom, direction and God’s will to be done through this ministry and in this land.

All because of Jesus,
Tim, Richelle,
Brendan, Rebekah Joy, Nadia, Anna, Victoria, Jonathan, Elsie Mae and Mary Michelle Wright

Edited (Sat. evening, our time) to add: This prayer letter went out last week and I'm just today posting on our blog. Since this was written, the Niger River Basin Authority has told school administration that Sahel Academy is now considered part of the Niger River. Until the waters recede (March/April 2013), we will not be able to use the campus. Lots of work is happening to preserve school supplies and materials and to resume the school year in an alternate location. Below are a few pictures of those recovery efforts:

Photo - Lisa Rohrick
Only very large construction/military trucks can drive into the campus.

Photo - Lisa Rohrick
Computer equipment was one of the first "rescued" loads.
Photo - Nancy Devalve

Not many get to "canoe" down the halls of their high school.
Photo - Lisa Rohrick

Photo - Lisa Rohrick
"Ichabod" was rescued from the science lab. Last photo I saw of him, he was missing his lower jaw and his knee cap was cracked... but still mostly intact.
How many of you have ever moved a piano by canoe?
Photo - Lisa Rohrick

Photo - Nancy Devalve
Lunch break?

Photo - Lisa Rohrick
Since "rescued" materials are coming to our mission compound for either long or short-term storage, we can't be @ Sahel, helping there. When I hear there are lots of snakes swimming around (among unimaginable floaties), I'm thankful that our part is here, but I also pray nonstop for those who are sacrificing to be there. 

Photo - Lisa Rohrick
Wonder when the water will start obeying the traffic signs...???

Join with us in praying that the Lord give wisdom, health and stamina
as well as protection during these recovery efforts.
To see some "Before and After" photos, as well as a slide show with many pictures of Sahel Academy students (You can see if you can spot any Wrightlings!) doing what they do, click on over to my friend's blog, The Bee in Beth's Bonnet.


  1. I saw Tim and Jan today in Kokomo. They look well. They were too occupied pumping me for my story,I didn't get their feelings on the floods. Praying for your situation as well as Mali.

  2. Thanks for those prayers, Cathy! Good to hear from you.


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