Grant and Jodie prayed through and chose to focus on 3 villages. But in a place where almost no one can read the Bible–or much of anything–how do you give them God’s word?
That’s where Tessa came in. My wife, Tessa, was chosen to lead groups of Malagasy from three dialects of the south to work together to create stories from God’s creation of the world until Jesus conquered death with his own. There are over 20 different dialects in Madagascar, sometimes making it very hard for different tribes to understand each other. These groups crafted stories that were true to the Bible but in the colloquialisms and everyday speak of the average Mahafaly person. In this way, God’s story became their story; like Jesus it took on a form they could understand, fit into their world, and began to transform it.
Grant shared stories like these with the 3 villages of Kilimary, Besatra, and Andremba: starting with the creation of the world and pausing after Jesus’ death and resurrection. Understanding the whole story helped the Mahafaly grasp what exactly Grant meant when he asked if they were ready to follow Jesus.
Grant had already shared the gospel with Kilimary and Besatra by the time my teammate, Doug, and I had come out. We got a chance to be there when Grant first shared the stories with Andremba. Every time after sharing the stories, the villages were asked to make individual decisions to believe and follow Jesus. And in every village, the stories were clear enough that a small group was ready to follow Jesus.
People came from all kinds of walks of life, from the respectable (teachers, village elders, local political leaders) and the dark paths (witch doctors, murderers, thieves). Sometimes it was both. One such man was Emanda, a local leader with a dark past as a cattle thief and murderer. We’ve heard him compared to an animal who, if you ever saw him coming toward you on the road, was to be avoided at all costs. But after being prepared by God as I described before, Emanda’s heart was changed listening to the stories. He knew his life needed to change–and he gave his life over to Jesus. His especially is a story of life change (though his eyes are still wild and he is still the Malagasy version of Chuck Norris!). His testimony is famous in the region, and many have seen the power of the Gospel through the change he’s experienced.