It was a six inch article on the sixth page of the paper. Assuming most Americans made it that far they would have read the headline “French triple troops in Mali” and again probably read no farther. Truth be known a sizable number of them probably could not have named Mali’s continent and fewer could actually pinpoint it on a map.
Within the evangelical church, the interest isn’t much better. African missions are “so nineteenth century” and besides who are we to tell them what to believe? Besides we have so many needs here at home. So why should the church care?
Well let’s start with the fact that there are an estimated 216,000 Christians in this landlocked African nation. Although it is largely Muslim country, it has freedom of religion. The “rebels” in this war are al Qaida funded and backed – so I think you can safely ascertain how well the minority Christian population will be treated. These are our brothers and sisters in Christ and we have a responsibility to care and to express that concern by lifting them up to our Lord in prayer.
Not enough? Here are some statistics closer to home. The Alliance has been in Mali since 1923. There are 360 organized Alliance churches with another 137 unorganized, but affiliated groups. There are 241 national pastors, 23,508 baptized members and 37,600 members when families are included. The Alliance still has active US and Canadian mission operations in the country, including the hospital where Terry and Barry Newman worked until recently. If the war escalates, the US and Canadian missionaries can leave the country – but the national church members can’t.
Following are excerpts of a report from our Alliance team in Mali:
“Many of you are aware of the events taking place in Mali and have already been praying about it. Thank you!
We are all fine, but things are tense in Mali and much prayer is needed. We are watching developments closely, and our respective embassies are keeping us informed and giving guidance as needed. We will keep you updated as the situation develops.
We need your help to ask God to intervene on behalf of the country, the church here, and our work, and to guard against any additional lives being lost – on either side. Please Pray!
Pray for our Mali team—that the Lord will make His presence known to each one in unusual ways during this time and that each will know His peace and leading in the days ahead, even as they continue in a wait-and-see mode about next steps in their ministries.
Also, continue to pray for peace in Mali and for the suffering of so many, especially of those in the north where there have been reports of killings and rapes by rebel soldiers.”
Finally – from Colorado Springs: “Pray also for Alliance church partners in Mali to stand strong in showing Christ’s love during this unstable time,” requests Bob Fetherlin, vice president for Alliance International Ministries. “Pray that—no matter what happens—the door for sharing the good news remains open in Mali.”
Please also pray that funds are raised through the Great Commission Fund to cover the costs of moving U.S. Alliance staff in Mali to neighboring countries during this time of uncertainty. Expenses include travel costs, temporary housing, and travel and communication within Mali to make all the needed arrangements for our personnel.
Finally the number one reason why we should care: Mali is important to our Lord Jesus Christ. So let us honor Him by praying for Mali, our missionaries, and the national church.