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Bruised Reeds

..and smoldering wicks

By Daryl Martin
portions adapted from an EMM article written by Jewel Showalter

PIRANG, The Gambia – When an Eastern Mennonite Missions (EMM) team began work among the Balanta people of The Gambia two years ago, they were surprised at the receptivity and spiritual hunger.

“People spoke joyfully of coming out of darkness into the light and moving from confusion to order, peace, and community,” said Beryl Forrester, EMM team leader. As with many who experience true salvation, the Balanta didn't keep the good news to themselves.

A tribe of about one million, the Balanta have roots farther south along coastal West Africa, particularly in the country of Guinea Bissau. Because of strong tribal identity and intra-tribal communication, word about the “Mennonites” and the spiritual renewal in The Gambia spread quickly over this vast area.

Requests began coming in from Senegal and Guinea Bissau, imploring the missionaries to come and show the way to God. The EMM mission team of five pondered how best to respond to the thousands who were begging for assistance.

The team’s strategy is to equip the Balanta believers themselves to share the gospel with their fellow tribesmen and to establish village fellowships, so that the Balanta believers will be at the forefront of the revival that is happening.

While in The Gambia in 2004, the Lord gave us the verse from Isaiah 42:3 “A bruised reed he will not break and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.” We felt this verse spoke of the limited knowledge of what it is to be a follower of Christ that is smoldering in the lives of the Balanta people. God promised not to snuff them out. Instead, by his Spirit, he has fanned them into flame and it is spreading rapidly. I am excited to be able to go and join with God in this time of harvest.

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