Our goal is to minister through holistic outreach to bring Christ to the unreached Sakalava people of Nosy Be, Madagascar. We are working with a larger team in and around the village of Ambatozavavy in southeast Nosy Be. Ministry began in this area in 2013 with an AIM TIMO team. As a result of that team, a small Sakalava church has been birthed in the area!
Our family is living in the rural village of Bemanondrohely about 2 miles southwest of Ambatozavavy. The previous team’s first believers were a husband and wife from this village. This couple remains strong in the Lord and has been wanting new missionaries to come live with them and disciple them. The missionary team in Ambatozavavy has been coming to the village every Sunday and holding worship gatherings.
The Lord has led our family to come live and minister in this village. We aspire to disciple these believers who are hungry to grow in their faith and evangelize in the surrounding area. This village has no electricity or running water and has less access to healthcare. It is our hope to be able to develop a medical ministry similar to what we did in our previous term on Nosy Mitsio, where we had trained village medical workers using transformational development principles. We also hope to use Community Health Evangelism (CHE) techniques. To help us in our ministry, the Lord has led Natalie Frensley to come homeschool our children for the 2017-2018 school year.
Two units from our team live and serve in the village of Ambatozavavy. The main ministries happening are a Sakalava Bible Translation project, the Sakalava Music Project, the artisan project, Mama Vao Vao, and discipleship through weekly worship gatherings. A third family lives north of Ambatozavavy in the village on Andrafia. Their aim is to spread current ministries to this area of the island.
Translation. Currently there is no translation of the Bible in the Sakalava dialect. The only full Bible translation in Madagascar is in the official dialect, which is drastically different than the Sakalava dialect. Rosina is working with fellow Sakalava people to translate portions of the Bible into the dialect. Sections that have been completed are already being studied in the local Bible Studies.
Sakalava Music Project. The McReynolds Family began living in Nosy Be in 2013 and befriended a local band. Although the band members were not Christians, they began working together to translate Bible passages and stories into Sakalava music. The band, while still unbelievers, then began playing the music at worship gatherings. After two years of friendship and working together, all five members of the band gave their lives to Christ. They continue to work on creating Sakalava worship music and story songs straight from Scripture. They hope to continue ministering through producing music, testimony recordings, and reading of Sakalava Scripture for radio broadcasting.
Mama Vao Vao. Rebe McReynolds has recently combined her love of art with her friendships with local Ambatozavavy women to create a new artisan group, Mama Vao Vao. These women were artisans, creating curtains and tablecloths using traditional sewing techniques passed down from their grandmothers. This local skill has helped to support them for generations, but the truth is that the skill is beginning to fade away. And, sadly, the market for prostitution and child-sex workers is ever increasing. Rebe began to think about how they might approach a new product, with new designs, but using the same traditional techniques they’ve been using for generations. Being an artist herself, Rebe saw the beauty, details, and expression in their skill, and it became clear to her that their pieces deserved to be signed, stretched and presented as works of art. The company name is Mama Vao Vao, pronounced “vo-vo” with a long-o sound, and it means something new and fresh is just happening. The “Mama” part incorporates the way in which the women are recognized in the village. The village is connected by their family, mothers are known by their children and children are known by their mothers. Each of their pieces are connected in that way with their signature. And so, as a collective group of women, they are “Mama Vao Vao”.
Worship Gatherings. A small Sakalava church has started as a result of the TIMO team. The missionaries, along with other local believers, gather weekly in Ambatozavavy and Bemanondrohely to study God’s Word. These gatherings include Sakalava worship, prayer, and Bible studies using the Discovery Bible Study method, where participants are asked what the Bible passage teaches them about God, about man, and how they can apply it to their lives. These “gatherings” are also taken on occasion to several surrounding villages around the area.