Share the Wealth
January 1, 2017
Author: Anneliese Wahlman
The United Nations Development Programme’s most recent data ranked Madagascar 154 out of 188 countries on the Human Development Index.1 That’s basically a sterile way of saying that, as a country, Madagascar doesn’t seem to have much going for it. Rich in biodiversity and culture, but seemingly poor in just about every other area, Madagascar is a land of extremes—extreme natural beauty juxtaposed with extreme poverty.2 In a population of nearly 23 million people, a staggering 75 percent live below the international poverty line.3 Children with haunting eyes and distended bellies wander the streets. Young girls hang around the local night clubs looking for a way to make some money in exchange for their innocence.4 It all seems rather bleak.
But through the horrifying misery the Malagasy people endure, they are open to the gospel. While the Western world has been anesthetized through materialism and excess, Madagascar is open to its true need—Jesus Christ.
After visiting the country, Light Bearers publishing correspondent Meiring Pretorius described this time of religious receptivity as “a golden opportunity to flood the Island with our message” and believes that “the printed page will do extremely well here.”
Since 2012, Light Bearers has sent two containers of literature to the church in Madagascar, and in the last four years the fruit has begun to show. Meiring writes about the church, “They are baptizing an average of 13,000 people per year. They feel that this number is largely the result of the literature from Light Bearers.”
Some Malagasy pastors have been using the Bible studies in small groups, and are experiencing a very positive outcome. One pastor, Meiring wrote, “has started dividing his churches into four groups. He has a total of 58 groups in his district. This has resulted in 122 baptisms since they started. This also helps to strengthen the new members in the church. He uses the 24 Bible lessons printed by Light Bearers.”
As the literature has been diffused throughout the island, God’s love is making an impact. Meiring also shared how the church is using the tracts in a nontraditional way to influence their community:
“The church in general is encouraging church members to start centers of influence. One such center was started by the conference to teach people to speak English. During the classes they use the Bible lessons as a tool for study. This method has reached many hearts for Christ.”
Another pastor shared a testimony with Meiring about a Malagasy traditional healer “who came to his [the pastor’s] meetings and studied the Bible lessons. God’s Spirit convicted him and he wanted to get rid of the idols he was worshiping. They helped him in his faith and he abandoned all his practices.” Please pray for this Malagasy man as he is considering baptism.
It is undeniable that God is working in Madagascar. In a land so impoverished, His word is enriching even those living in the darkest pockets of this country.
A layman named Mamy is proof of this. After spending time in prison and being converted, Mamy felt a strong call to take the gospel behind bars. He began his prison ministry in 2004 and now has access to all detention centers. He is seeing the Spirit move as he works with those who are in the same position he used to be, men who are held captive, not merely by walls of cement and barbed wire, but by walls of selfishness and pride.
“Now he is using the Light Bearers Bible lessons in the prisons with great success,” Meiring reports. “Recently 150 prisoners were baptized and 45 more are awaiting baptism.” Liberty is being proclaimed and captives are being set free.
For those prisoners who have recently been released, a church has been built outside one of the main prisons. Now the newly-freed inmates can be part of a safe community as they transition back into normal life.
Martin Luther once said, “If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write.” As witnessed in Madagascar, it’s absolutely stunning to see what God can do with just 26 letters written on small pieces of paper, each carrying the weight of God’s glory. May we always be willing instruments in God’s hands, ready to write, speak, print and share the wealth of God’s love in even the poorest of places.