Mission Partner Update - The Williamsons, April 2023
"My Daughter died two weeks ago."
This was the response I (Nisae) got when I asked an unfamiliar woman in the village her name and whether or not she had any other children besides the 6 month old baby she was nursing. It’s not every day that I’m faced with this kind of conversation, and I wasn’t quite prepared for the question I would get from her mother just an hour later.
During our recent trip into Iski to spend Easter with the church, we had many fruitful conversations and enjoyed fellowship with our Iski friends once again. We are amazed each time we go in at all the work God is doing and how many people he is drawing to Himself in this little pocket of the world! This time, a good friend of ours and a behind the scenes support missionary on field for the last 16 years, Aaron Jex, also accompanied us. It was fun to introduce him to our friends and show him around so he could see some of the fruit of his labor over the years, having supported the work in Iski by managing the business office for the field and quite literally keeping us running on the support side of things. He’s the guy who answers all of our finance questions, and who helped set up our recent house construction fund. He often helps to break things down for our simple minds so we can stay afloat over here and keep doing what we’re here to do! During his visit he also helped us get our medical dispensary & literacy finances in order – we are so thankful for him and others doing what they do best to support the church!
Back to the question you’re probably wondering about from Fidelma, a new believer in the Masa church. She heard the chronological teaching last year and placed her faith in Christ in November. She is now in our literacy class learning how to read for the first time. (Later she would tell me, “I just learned to hold a pencil and write my name for the first time in my life!”) As she listened to me and her daughter talk about the recent death of her granddaughter (who most likely died from untreated malaria), she told me she has been praying for months now that her husband and daughter would come hear the Bible teaching that she has heard and believed. Since her granddaughter’s death they have BOTH been coming to the teaching on Sunday! There were many facets to our conversation that day, as I reassured the mother that her daughter’s death was not punishment from God for her broken marriage and helped them realize that the spirit of the deceased is not sent off by any ritual we do 3 days afterward. Being new to the Bible teaching, I knew these were still lingering misunderstandings they would have in their Iski worldview.
Then came the question I wasn’t expecting…
“I’ve heard the story of Abraham and how God asked him to kill and offer his son. Abraham’s faith was so strong that he believed God would raise him back to life if he died. If I have strong faith like Abraham can I ask God to give breath again to my granddaughter and he will make her come back to us?”
It was like getting punched in the gut. I could see the sorrow and desperation in her eyes. Both her and her daughter had cried off and on over the last few hours of our conversation. I was desperate to provide comfort and hope but I couldn’t find a way to provide the kind they were looking for with this answer. I proceeded to tell her that because of God’s promise to Abraham that a deliverer would come through His son, Isaac, Abraham was confident that God would do whatever it would take to fulfill His promise. Today, God does not make this promise to us. In fact, sickness and death are part of living on this fallen ground. We cannot do anything in our own strength or have enough faith to make our loved ones come back from the dead.
BUT, God does use the pain and hardship of these trials for GOOD, and I pointed out that He is already at work bringing good from this situation because her daughter and husband are asking themselves important questions like, “Why do people die?” and, “What is God like?” and, “What is the meaning of life?” The search for answers to these questions have brought them to hear God’s Word which holds all of these answers! They both seemed genuinely happy with this explanation and thankful for the happiness that God has given them in the midst of the sorrow they’ve experienced. Will you pray that God will continue comforting and drawing Bernidet, her father, and her mother, Fidelma, to Himself? We are so impressed with the way the leaders in the church have reached out to this whole family, sitting with them and encouraging them throughout this trial. Much of what I said, as I would hear later, was also what others in the church have tried to help them understand. The church in Masa is truly a light to the darkness and hopelessness around them!
Thank you again for your prayers and for your partnership in this ministry!
Jason, Nisae & Eden (Kadynn & Collin, and Judah)
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