Maslow In Real Life

Back when I was in school, I learned about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Essentially, Maslow’s theory was that as one need is met, people move onto their next need that is unmet. At the time, it seemed like a very sound concept and one that appeared to be true. Despite that, though, it was only a theory that had very little actual application in my life.

This year’s visit allowed me to see Maslow’s hierarchy lived out in real life. I had the opportunity to be able to talk with some of the leaders of our host organization and of Ndjemane. This year, their prayer requests were slightly different from in the past. When my church first arrived in Ndjemane, two of their major prayer requests were for water and for healthcare.

Over the years, God has answered those prayers. We have sent multiple medical clinics to the village and they now have accessible water.

When we first came to Ndjemane, the villagers had to travel for about an hour every day or two to get water from the closest water source. Just getting water had an incredible impact on their lives. Through donations, our church was able to raise enough money to provide the equipment and supplies needed to bring water directly into the village.

There are now four different water spigots located throughout the village. Nowadays you can walk out to any given water spigot and you will see dozens of five-gallon water containers waiting to be filled. The village of 2,500 now has easily accessible water. Basic need met; moving on.

This year, the needs had shifted slightly. The leaders of the village were interested in installing a grain silo. Obviously, the silo would allow them to better withstand drought situations like they are experiencing this year. I am not sure how or even if Forest Hill will play a part in helping Ndjemane get a grain silo. There are a lot of discussions between our host organization, Ndjemane, and other villages about sharing a common silo(s), etc. so they can figure out the best approach for the future of the area.

I hope they are able to get some type of grain storage system set up. I wonder if, as that need is met, what would be their next need that needs to be addressed. I will have to checkmout Maslow’s chart for that information. For now, though, I rejoice in the fact that a village very close to my heart can get water with limited work and effort.

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A Place To Call Home

All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. (Acts 2:42-44 NLT, emphasis mine)

For the first time this trip, we headed to our partner village, Ndjemane. Today we had the opportunity to celebrate Sunday worship with the Ndjemanese Christians in their new church.

Me In Church I say “new” because the church is less than eight months old for the village and completely brand new for us. Many people in our church prayed for Ndjemane for many years so they would be able to erect a church. Building a Christian church was one of the requests from a mostly-Muslim village and an all-Muslim elder council and Chief.

Our church prayed. Many people donated money to cover building material expenses. We sent two different construction mission teams to assist the village’s residents with building the church. All of that helped carry a desire and a prayer request in 2007 to a functional church in 2011.

It is true that Christians are God’s new temple (1 Corinthians 3:16, 1 Corinthians 6:19, 2 Corinthians 6:16, Ephesians 2:21). With that said, though, there was a joy felt in the Ndjemane Christians by having a place to come together to worship. They now had a place to come together to learn more about God’s Word. They had a home to fellowship together.

This tiny, new church has meaningful significance to a little village filled with only a few Christians. It was tough for me comprehend this until witnessing it. In our city where there are churches by the hundreds, I have the ability to shop around until I find the exact one that fits my desires. In the bush of Africa, a little village prayed that they would have a single building to worship in and God delivered. May He continue to be with this little village.

Church Under Construction
Church Under Construction

Church Under Construction

Church Under Construction

New Church
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One People

During our stay in Senegal, I wrote some posts while riding on the bus. When we had Internet connections in the hotels, I would spend the free time adding the group’s posts and pictures to our Charlotte To Senegal blog, but did not have much time to complete my personal posts. I am publishing them now, but am keeping the same present-tense perspective as if I was still in Senegal.
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Worship in Ndjemane I once participated in a Bible study where someone (wrongly) used the Bible to reinforce their own racist views toward black people. The guy’s comments angered me greatly, but, at the time, I did not know enough about the Scriptures to rebuke him.

This is an extreme example of an improper view toward people who are different and toward the Bible itself. Unfortunately, though, even when we as a community believe everyone is equal, separation and division still occurs.

While separation is not necessarily bad, I do see a large division among races when it comes to Christians and churches in the United States. That is why it was a special opportunity for me to participate in worship service in Ndjemane yesterday. Regardless of race; gender; age; and nationality, we came together as one people, united under Christ, to come and worship. We sang in Serere, Wolof, French, and English. We all learned from the same Word. We all shared stories of hope during our testimonies, and stories of pain/needs in our prayer request. Afterward, we spent hours in fellowship as one people.

Church in Ndjemane For the past three years, in this small village of Ndjemane, I have gotten a glimpse of what every group of people could have. I have seen two groups of people of almost complete polar opposites (i.e., racially, culturally, language, monetarily) come together in joy as friends, brothers, and sisters.

As Christians, we are instructed to be that unified people. If only we would heed those instructions. For one day, in a tiny church in tiny village in Africa we did just that and it was an incredible experience.

For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. (Ephesians 2:14, 15 NLT, emphasis mine)

Church in Ndjemane

Church in Ndjemane

One People

One People

One People

One People

One People

One People

One People

One People

One People

One People

One People

2011 Mission Trip – Ngogobe

2011 Clinic Prayer It is easy to only think of the medical clinics we conduct as an effort to physically heal people in the village. While it is true that we do hope to help people who might not otherwise receive medical care their whole lives, it is important to know that these clinics do so much more.

Prayer

As I mentioned yesterday, during the clinics our teams are afforded the opportunity to pray for many of our patients. We ask every patient if we may pray, and after getting permission, we then proceed to pray for them. Almost every patient allows us to pray for them. Personally, this is astounding. As Christians, we are allowed to pray for almost every patient we see in a village and country that is over 95% Muslim. The medical clinic allows us to attend to our patients’ medical and spiritual needs. In serving, Jesus is revealed in two tangible ways that the patients can take with them.

Other Barriers

2011 Clinic Ngogobe Medical clinics can also breaks down relationship barriers. Our clinic in Ngogobe is one such moment where this occurred. Before ever sending a complete mission team into a village, our host organization sends a couple of the church’s/organization’s representatives to talk with the village. These “vision teams” help create a relationship between the two groups and set a foundation for future interactions. Our church’s 2007 vision team meeting went smoothly and created a relationship that has lasted for five years so far.

Our church’s first meeting with Ndjemane went well, but that is not always the case. The first meeting between an organization and the village of Ngogobe fell apart very quickly. After a brief period of time, the two sides walked away a little bit frustrated and/or disappointed. This meeting was held a couple of weeks prior to our arrival. Our host organization asked us to use one of our clinic days to serve in Ngogobe. With preparation in prayer, we gladly agreed and spent many hours seeing many of Ngogobe’s hurting and sick residents. The barriers were breaking down and relationships were being healed.

2011 Ngogobe Waiting A village was beginning to put up walls and there was an increasing risk that any relationships with our hosts, their teams, and the village might never occur again. Instead, God worked through a small group of willing servants to soften hearts. Through medicine, relationships were being restored. As I said before, it is easy to only focus on the medical needs that we are addressing, but God is using our service in so many other, and more powerful, ways.

I pray that God uses our clinics again this year in mighty ways that extend beyond the physical needs of our friends in Senegal.

A Little Help Goes A Long Way
I am leaving for Senegal in February, 2012 to be a part of a medical team that is providing medical care to the people of Ndjemane and other adjacent villages. Please be a part of my trip and help. There are a three main ways you can help:

  1. Pray for the medical team and me. As we just read, God answers prayers and I believe he will answer our prayers about this team.
  2. Share these stories. I pray that as I tell stories to raise funds for the medical clinic that people will also hear the Good News about the love that God has for a small village in Africa and how He also loves each one of us. It is a powerful and showering love that every person should have the opportunity to hear.
  3. Most important to me is prayer and sharing these stories. However, if you would like to donate money to assist me with serving in Senegal. Check out the sidebar to the right to see how much I still need so I can cover all of my expenses in Senegal. (Here is the link to PayPal to donate to my trip.)

However you participate, thank you for being a part of the February 2012 Medical Team!

If you have gotten this far, here is a picture of Amy and me goofing off after our Ngogobe clinic closed. Do not let her short stature confuse you… she is scrappy. The second picture is a child from Ndjemane. I thought it was a cool picture and wanted to share.

Amy & me

A Child In Ndjemane

2011 Medical Team: The Chief

Me In the 2011 Ndjemane Medical Clinic As the calendar turned over to 2011 I was getting prepared to set off for Senegal again. Our team was to depart for Dakar, Senegal in early February. The 2011 team had an almost brand new team from the previous year. Our new team now consisted of additional medical personnel. The mission trip also had three days appended to it, which allowed us to offer more medical clinic days and locations (Ndjemane village, Ngogobe village, and a prison clinic).

2011 Clinic Joe and Robbi Praying Our first stop was in our partner village of Ndjemane where we held two days of clinics. With the additional medical personnel serving in the clinics, we were able to see hundreds of patients each day. The clinics allowed us to treat physically and pray for a large portion of the people living in the village. While the 2011 Ndjemane medical clinics were incredible, they were not necessarily the highlight of the trip.

The Chief & The Village
Our return marked Forest Hill’s sixth visit to Ndjemane (over the span of five years). This visit was noticeably different from the previous trips. Many people in the village appeared to be changing. This change was especially visible in Ndjemane’s chief, Ghana Diouf.

2011 Clinic Robbi and Ghana Diouf During our previous trips Ghana Diouf was rarely seen. When team members were with Ghana, he was stoic, very formal, and somewhat aloof when interacting with the teams. In 2011 the chief’s demeanor was changing. He was around the medical clinic… a lot! Early in the clinics, doctors did a physical for him. After his physical, Ghana spent time hanging out in the waiting area. He was friendly and open with the team members. He spent time talking with Robbi Fischer and practiced English with Robbi. Ghana came to the naming ceremony and spent time enjoying the festivities.

This was not the same Ghana Diouf, Chief of Ndjemane, that we had experienced before. It was obvious that God was chipping away at Ghana’s heart and this change was becoming noticeable on the outside. Ghana is still a Muslim/Animist, but there appears to be a continued softening of his heart. Many of us continue to pray that God will continue to call Ghana into fellowship with Jesus and know him as his Lord and Savior.

God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:9

He called you to salvation when we told you the Good News; now you can share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. – 2 Thessalonians 2:14

A Little Help Goes A Long Way
I am leaving for Senegal in February, 2012 to be a part of a medical team that is providing medical care to the people of Ndjemane and other adjacent villages. Please be a part of my trip and help. There are a three main ways you can help:

  1. Pray for the medical team and me. As we just read, God answers prayers and I believe he will answer our prayers about this team.
  2. Share these stories. I pray that as I tell stories to raise funds for the medical clinic that people will also hear the Good News about the love that God has for a small village in Africa and how He also loves each one of us. It is a powerful and showering love that every person should have the opportunity to hear.
  3. Most important to me is prayer and sharing these stories. However, if you would like to donate money to assist me with serving in Senegal. Check out the sidebar to the right to see how much I still need so I can cover all of my expenses in Senegal. (Here is the link to PayPal to donate to my trip.)

However you participate, thank you for being a part of the February 2012 Medical Team!

2011 Clinic Robbi and Ghana Diouf Language Lessons

Robbi and Ghana Diouf Language Lessons

End-of-the-day Goofing Off

End-of-the-day Goofing Off

2010 Medical Clinic – The Work In Me (Part 2)

The Community of Kids in Ndjemane Yesterday, I talked about how God used Ndjemane to work on my heart concerning having joy. Today, it is all about the community. Here is how God used Ndjemane to build a desire for more community in my life.

Community
A second aspect of the Senegalese culture that God moved in me was the value of community. I observed in Ndjemane a culture where relationships are highly valuable. I saw how villagers took care of each other. I saw how families lived together in small compounds relying on one another daily. I saw how four (or more) vehicles took the time to stop on the side of a highway to help an unknown driver push his bus out of a ditch after the bus had gotten stuck. Tasks and schedules did not dictate; taking care of others in relationship did.

My desire was to build on these observations and really live in an authentic Christian community whose example was set way back in the days of early Christianity:

All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. Acts 2:42

Namesake Ceremony & Dancing I would like to say that I have firmly taken a hold of both of these, but I have not. Despite that, though, exceeding joy and living in community are still desires of mine that I pray about continuing to build. They are two aspects of my life that I continue to work on and improve.

A Little Help Goes A Long Way
I am leaving for Senegal in February, 2012 to be a part of a medical team that is providing medical care to the people of Ndjemane and other adjacent villages. Please be a part of my trip and help. There are a three main ways you can help:

  1. Pray for the medical team and me. As we just read, God answers prayers and I believe he will answer our prayers about this team.
  2. Share these stories. I pray that as I tell stories to raise funds for the medical clinic that people will also hear the Good News about the love that God has for a small village in Africa and how He also loves each one of us. It is a powerful and showering love that every person should have the opportunity to hear.
  3. Most important to me is prayer and sharing these stories. However, if you would like to donate money to assist me with serving in Senegal. Check out the sidebar to the right to see how much I still need so I can cover all of my expenses in Senegal. (Here is the link to PayPal to donate to my trip.)

However you participate, thank you for being a part of the February 2012 Medical Team!

If you have gotten this far, here is a picture of Mike and me dancing:

Namesake Ceremony & Dancing

Namesake Ceremony & Dancing

2010 Medical Clinic – The Work In Me (Part 1)

Sose Diouf and Me In my last post, I talked about what God was doing in Ndjemane through our medical clinic. When serving others it is easy to think that the only people benefiting are the ones being served. Personally, nowhere has this been proven more false than when I served in Senegal.

Here is the first of the two things that I took away from my trip in 2010.

Few Possessions, Abundant Peace and Joy
What I saw in Ndjemane was quite different from what our culture and product marketers tells us is true. Most of the people in the village had an obvious joy and peace about them. The villagers had this peace despite having few possessions. They were joyful while living with few things in huts and compounds that were equivalent to what we would call “roughing it” camping.

The villagers’ peace and joy were contagious. As a result, this was one of the biggest take aways during my 2010 mission trip. Personally, I felt it was a challenge from God. It was a challenge to be more joyful and peaceful even when confronted with a lack of abundance and/or possessions. How could people who live in a 90% Muslim village and who have so few things experience more joy than I do in my life as a Christian who has so much. As Christians, we are called to be different. God calls us to have joy (“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,” – Galatians 5:22).

Tomorrow, I am going to talk about the community I observed and how that drove a change in me.

A Little Help Goes A Long Way
I am leaving for Senegal in February, 2012 to be a part of a medical team that is providing medical care to the people of Ndjemane and other adjacent villages. Please be a part of my trip and help. There are a three main ways you can help:

  1. Pray for the medical team and me. As we just read, God answers prayers and I believe he will answer our prayers about this team.
  2. Share these stories. I pray that as I tell stories to raise funds for the medical clinic that people will also hear the Good News about the love that God has for a small village in Africa and how He also loves each one of us. It is a powerful and showering love that every person should have the opportunity to hear.
  3. Most important to me is prayer and sharing these stories. However, if you would like to donate money to assist me with serving in Senegal. Check out the sidebar to the right to see how much I still need so I can cover all of my expenses in Senegal. (Here is the link to PayPal to donate to my trip.)

However you participate, thank you for being a part of the February 2012 Medical Team!

2010 Medical Clinic: The Work In the Village

In my last post I talked about how a simple request from a small village in Africa became prayers from faithful Christians. God heard those prayers and began tugging on the hearts of many people in preparation for His response. I was one of those people whose heart was moved. Even though I was unaware that people were praying for Ndjemane, I was being called to serve there. It was a calling that took three years be realized.

Ndjemane Children Our medical team set ground in Senegal in May, 2010. For Senegal’s village of Ndjemane this was the first time medical care was available to everyone in their village. Prior to that, the only real option they had for medical care was to take a bus ride to Thies, which was more than an hour away.

Most of the patients we saw during the clinics did not come with strange diseases or weird diagnoses. Rather, most of them dealt with pretty standard chronic medical ailments. Medical ailments that could be easily be taken care of if they had constant access to medical care. The practitioners were able to manage most of the patients’ medical needs with the medication that was donated or purchased prior to our trip.

One typical diagnosis we saw in many of Ndjemane’s adult patients was high blood pressure. It turns out that the hypertension was caused from the water they drank. Ndjemane’s main water source contained high levels of sodium, which directly affected them. Most of the kids we saw dealt with malaria or presented with symptoms that were similar to malaria. If you look at pictures on our Charlotte To Senegal website you can see that most of the kids had constant runny noses.

Medical Clinic Prayer This is what our team saw as we served the people of Ndjemane. Despite the village being almost all Muslim, most of the patients allowed us to pray with them. We showed the village Jesus Christ’s love for them by coming to the village. We showed Ndjemane His love by serving the people in the village in a way that cannot be repaid, but is so valuable to them.

As I reflect on the love we tried to show Ndjemane by our service in the medical clinic I am left with the following verses. We are called by Jesus to not just love each other as ourselves, but we are meant to love each other as he has loved us.

And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.

Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. John 13:14-15 & 1 John 4:11

A Little Help Goes A Long Way
I am leaving for Senegal in February, 2012 to be a part of a short-term medical team that is providing medical care to the people of Ndjemane and other adjacent villages. Please be a part of my trip and help. There are a three ways you can help:

  1. Pray for the medical team and me. As we just read, God answers prayers and I believe he will answer our prayers about this team.
  2. Share these stories. I pray that as I tell stories to raise funds for the medical clinic that people will also hear the Good News about the love that God has for a small village in Africa and how He also loves each one of us. It is a powerful and showering love that every person should have the opportunity to hear.
  3. Most important to me is prayer and sharing these stories. However, if you would like to donate money to assist me with serving in Senegal. Check out the sidebar to the right to see how much I still need so I can cover all of my expenses in Senegal. (Here is the link to PayPal to donate to my trip.)

However you participate, thank you for being a part of the February 2012 Medical Team!

In the Beginning… Well, Not That Beginning

In 2007, God placed the people of Senegal on my heart. I was not sure why and at the time I did not even know where Senegal was on the continent of Africa. If I was unable to point out Senegal on a map, it was pretty obvious that I knew nothing about the country and its people. The only thing I definitely knew was that I was supposed to serve in Senegal.

That same year in Senegal, Forest Hill sent two church representatives to meet with the chief and elders of a village called Ndjemane. During their meeting, one of the three things Ndjemane asked from our church was for Forest Hill to pray about the medical care needs for their people.

A request from a remote, mostly-Muslim village in a little-known country in Africa transformed into prayers from faithful Christians to the Lord God. Those prayers were heard and received a response from God. Even though Ndjemane would not see a medical clinic for another three years, God was already preparing the members’ hearts (including mine) and was beginning to establish the medical team.

In 2010, the medical-care request and prayers came to fruition when Forest Hill sent a medical mission team into Ndjemane. That was also the trip that I was finally able to participate with. God’s plan had been laid out in perfect timing and was now in motion.

A Little Help Goes A Long Way
I am leaving for Senegal in February, 2012 to be a part of a medical team that is providing medical care to the people of Ndjemane and other adjacent villages. Please be a part of my trip and help. There are a three main ways you can help:

  1. Pray for the medical team and me. As we just read, God answers prayers and I believe he will answer our prayers about this team.
  2. Share these stories. I pray that as I tell stories to raise funds for the medical clinic that people will also hear the Good News about the love that God has for a small village in Africa and how He also loves each one of us. It is a powerful and showering love that every person should have the opportunity to hear.
  3. Most important to me is prayer and sharing these stories. However, if you would like to donate money to assist me with serving in Senegal. Check out the sidebar to the right to see how much I still need so I can cover all of my expenses in Senegal. (Here is the link to PayPal to donate to my trip.)

However you participate, thank you for being a part of the February 2012 Medical Team!

A Morning In Ndjemane

This video features Ted Loring. He was one of the guys that went on our medical missions team to Ndjemane, Senegal.

There were so many ways God used our team during the February trip. God used us in so many positive ways, it is humbling to have been a part if it. Ted’s story of how God used Shannon and him is a little different, though.

This story is a little different because first there was pain. In the year before that powerful morning, there was sadness, despair, loneliness. The story begins… well, I will let Ted share his story: