Madagascar 3M Launches the Christian Heritage Tour

By God’s grace, we are hoping to open our Preaching Institute on August 19th 2023. As part of our strategy, we are looking for ways to subsidize students’ tuitions to make it accessible and affordable.

The Christian Heritage Tour (CHT) is an exciting opportunity for you to sponsor our students. The first tour will be on May 15th to 21st or 25th, 2023.

The idea of CHT has been in my mind since I was able to be part of the Christian Leadership Tour of the Grand Canyon by Canyon Ministries in 2017. We then brainstormed ideas to put together a tour that would enable participants to discover the island’s unique endemic ecosystem and God’s faithfulness in bringing the gospel and preserving Christianity in the country.

Now you can be part of an adventure of a lifetime!

CHT enables its participants to enjoy the unique fauna and flora of Madagascar, while learning about the history of the first missionaries and the development of Christianity in the island. The participants will also engage with local congregations as the trip includes visits to present-day churches.

CHT combines History, Nature, and Adventure. Field experts in History and Biology will be on the trip to answer questions from the participants, providing insightful inputs as to the unicity of the fauna and flora in Madagascar.

Though primarily designed for pastors and church leaders, couples, young adults and other believers are also welcomed on the Tour.

Route

11-Day Version7-day Version
Arrival in Antananarivo
Day 1 (May 15) – Antananarivo & Toamasina (City)
Day 2-3 (May 16-17) – River Cruise on the Pangalanes
Day 4-5 (May 18-19) – Andasibe-Mantadia National Park
Day 6 (May 20) – Antananarivo (City)
Day 7 (May 21) – Fianarantsoa & Isalo
Day 8-9 (May 22-23) – Isalo
Day 10 (May 24) – Fianarantsoa (City)
Day 11 (May 25) – Antananarivo (City)
Departure from Antananarivo
Arrival in Antananarivo
Day 1 (May 15) – Antananarivo & Toamasina (City)
Day 2-3 (May 16-17) – River Cruise on the Pangalanes
Day 4-5 (May 18-19) – Andasibe-Mantadia National Park
Day 6 (May 20) – Antananarivo (City)
Day 7 (May 21) – Antananarivo (City)
Departure from Antananarivo

Tour features

Premium Tour

All accommodations on this tour has been carefully selected to meet high standard of quality and comfort

Cannot be customized

The dates, accommodations and destinations of this tour cannot be changed.

Children allowed

This tour accepts children

Shared tour

On this shared tour, you will join a group of other travelers. 

8 minimum – 12 maximum per group.

Suitable for single travelers

Single travelers can join this group tour, but it requires a minimum of 8 people to run.

Activities

Historic Site Seeing

Nature Exploration

Guided Tours

A River Cruise

Natural swimming pool

Beach

Local Dining

Local Church Visits

A dedicated website is under development with all the details and the opportunity for you to sign up for this tour.

Rates Per Person

11-Day Version7-day Version
Single: $2 699/pers
Couple/Twin: $2 499/pers
Single: $2 399/pers
Couple/Twin: $2 199/pers

Inclusions

Included

+ Domestic Flights (Tana – Toamasina) in economical class

+ Meet and greet personalized on arrival at antananarivo airport

+ Goodies offered by Madagascar 3M including a “hatbrella”

+ All activities – (Unless labeled as optional) 

+ All transportation

+ Premium accommodations

+ All meals as specified in Daily Planner

+ Parks and guide fees

+ One litre bottle of water per day per person

+ 2 English/French speaking staff throughout the trip

+ Historian joining us on the trip

+ Roundtrip airport transfer

+ All Taxes/VAT 

Excluded

– International flights

– Additional accommodation before and at the end of the tour

– Upgrade to business class on the flights

– Tips (Tipping guideline US$10.00 pp per day)

– Personal items (Souvenirs, travel insurance, visa fees, etc.)

– Government imposed increase of taxes and/or park fees

– Drinks

As mentioned, the proceeds for every person on the tour will finance one student for one year at our preaching institute. You will get an unforgettable experience and contribute to furthering someone’s theological education. Have we convinced you yet? 😁

We need at least 8 people to sign up for this tour. Could you be part of it? Would you consider sending your pastor and elders?  

Last day to sign up is March 31st, 2023. Kindly consider this opportunity prayerfully and do not hesitate to contact us. Your participation to this tour will mean a lot for those you help getting a theological education 🙏🏽

Merry Christmas everyone! Let’s celebrate God’s greatest gift to mankind (2 Cor 9:15), Jesus Christ, as He became man so men can commune with God.

New Year…Long Resolutions

It’s this time of the year. We look back, we look within, we look forward and we set goals for ourselves. We make resolutions. We sincerely want to keep them most of the time. And we fail to do so most of the time. This is true even of Christians setting spiritual goals for themselves every year like abiding to a Bible reading plan or studying deeper a specific area of doctrine. 

So, the question is: should Christians keep making new year resolutions and try to keep them? Is there a point in making a list of self-determined objectives aimed at bettering one’s life? 

I would like to argue that yes, Christians should make resolutions. We see the people of God in the Bible and throughout church history make commitments. And we can see that they don’t make them only at the beginning of every year but every time they feel compelled to.

The start of a new year is a great time to ponder and pledge, but it shouldn’t be the only time. Resolutions ought to be made all year long, and even all lifelong for us as disciples of Christ. 

However, here are a few questions to challenge how these commitments are usually made and to help ensure that we do keep them:

1-   What is the Point? 

As Jesus explained the reason why He did what He did in His ministry, He summed it up by saying “…I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.” (John 8:30)

Jesus was focused on pleasing and honoring God. 

Do I make my resolutions with the same focus on God’s glory and honor? Or do I focus more on what people will say of me or my own exaltation? Is my intent fixated on the “now” or on eternity with God (John 14:1-4; Rom 8:18-25; 1 Peter 1:13; 1 John 3:1-3)?

Our resolutions must align with God’s intent for our lives as Christians: our sanctification (1 Thes 4:3; 1 Pet 1:14-16). We must kill what prevents it, the deeds of the flesh and nurture what improves it (Rom 8:12-13; 13:13-14). 

We need to make commitments that lead us to pursue holiness,
not personal success. 

2-   What is the Push?   

God looks at why we do things, not only at the things we do. He fully knows our motivations (1 Sam 16:7). We thus must attach not only an ultimate intent to our resolutions but also an unambiguous heart motive. We might be motivated to lose weight or acquire knowledge by ego or peer pressure. Yet we must learn to slay any selfish desires and replace them with a stronger yearning to conform our life to Christ’s. His smile of favor ought to be the only approval we seek. 

Paul prays in 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12… 

As we display steadfastness, Jesus gets the glory. 

3-   What is the Plan? 

What are the accompanying measures you think to implement to ensure you will achieve the goals you set? 

Scripture encourages us to make plans, but reminds us that these plans are always subject to God’s sovereign will (Prov 16:9; James 4:13-17). 

The Bible also invites us to seek advice in making those plans.  Proverbs 15:22 says “Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed.

Once counsel is received, you must for your own ideas as to how you are going to reach the set target. Having an accountability partner long the way is definitely wise not to be side-tracked or blind-sided.  

4-   What is the Power Source? 

For the believer, all resolutions are illumined, empowered and sustained by the Holy Spirit. 

We are to live out our Christian lives with fear and trembling, knowing that God is at work to fulfill that which we commit to do (Phil 2:12-13). 

We thus must totally depend on His work on our behalf through prayer. 

Jesus asked the disciples to commit to one hour of prayer on His behalf in the garden. As we know they failed miserably. And so do we, often. 

Jesus tells us that the way to maintain our resolution is by watching and praying.

We are to apply all necessary processes so not to fall into temptation and we are to pray continually as our best efforts to fulfill the former will always fall short. 

We need to pray for guidance, wisdom, and strength (James 1:5) when it comes to our walk in Christ. 

May the Lord grant us endurance in the race set before us.
May He give us milestone victories through accomplished goals.
May He help us delay gratification and quicken mortification of sin.
May He be glorified as we resolve to depend on Him prayerfully to keep our year-long and lifelong resolutions. 

Happy New Year 2023 everyone!

Training Faithful Men who can teach others also…

By God’s amazing grace and providence, Christian and Fiderana will be the second and third men from Madagascar to be trained at The Master’s Seminary. We can’t be more excited and grateful!

Left to Right: Christian, Soa-Miaina, Haddon & Mikala

Back to Front: Fiderana, Vina, Nampoina, Kasa & Kajy

They will leave our island with their family next week so to get ready to start their first semester in January 2023. 

Both men are granted this astounding opportunity through the generosity of donors of The Master’s Academy International and The Master’s Seminary, as well as so many others who are willing to invest through them in raising the next generation of church leaders in Madagascar. 

Lord willing, upon completion of their studies, they will return to be part of the faculty of Madagascar 3M Preaching Institute, which will open officially in August 2023 and is currently in the candidacy process to be part of the TMAI network of schools. 

Some may ask, “why are you sending them to seminary in the US?” Why uproot them from their current setting and ministry to make them travel thousands of miles to another culture? Can’t they just study in Madagascar? They can, and they have. And it is because they have demonstrated their faithfulness (2 Tim 2:2) in ministry in the local church and personal growth that they were considered as applicants.

Here are 5 reasons why seminary education is necessary and beneficial. Here is why we are grateful that these 2 men could go to The Master’s Seminary.   

Christian and Fiderana are going to seminary because their time there will: 

Test their Character

1 Timothy 3:10 says that “…these men must also first be tested.” The genuineness of character of those to be appointed as deacons or elders must be confirmed through trial. Granted, their personality has been examined while they served here in country, but their personality and convictions will be exposed and established further through the rigors of academic education while living in a foreign country. 

Being out of their comfort zone will draw them to rely fully on God for strength and wisdom. Not having their family around to support will draw husband, wife, and children even closer to each other.   

They will have teachers, peers and other believers all observing their life and teaching. 

Train them in Righteousness

2 Timothy 3:16-17 speaks of the nature of Scripture and its impact on one’s life as it is profitable “…for training in righteousness” and equip “for every good work.”

For the next 3 to 4 years, they will be spending a lot of time in the Biblical text, learning the original languages, searching for the author’s intended meaning and being diligent to faithfully identify and communicate the universal truths from the text. 

My prayer is that they will always do so with a devotion to serving and glorifying God and not just as a scholastic task. I pray that they will be the first impacted and molded by what they learn. I pray that they will take to heart to apply what they are learning (Ezra 7:10).   

Tutor them in Time Management

1 Peter 4:7a “The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be of sound thinking…” 

The assignments deadlines and the level of excellence required by theological education all contribute to eliminate the clutter from one’s life and pushes the student to make the most of his time. Seminary is, in that sense as well, the best preparation for ministry as time constraint is part of the reality of the pastor. Sunday always comes at the same time, and the unexpected is to be expected during the week (a birth, a death, a counseling need, administrative or logistical needs…) affecting sermon preparation. 

Christian and Fiderana will learn to balance their time between study, serving in the local church, fellowshipping with others, and protecting their time with their family. They will still have to do so once in ministry. It is not going to be easy. Here is an area for which we can truly be praying for them. 

Teach them Humility

Romans 12:3 “…I say to each one among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think…” 

One thing I discovered from seminary is how ignorant and stupid I am. I remember struggling to score a “resounding” 37% on a Bible proficiency test. At the end of the seminary journey, I felt like there was still so much more I needed to learn, as my time in California opened my eyes to see the blessed despair of trying to fully comprehend God. He is truly unsearchable (Psalm 145:3; Rom 11:33), and yet there is no better endeavor than to keep seeking! The greater view of God we have, the humbler we become. 

Spiritual pride is a danger for every minister of the Word. Seminary will crush that. The erudition of your peers and professors will expose your lack thereof. The feedback you receive after preaching what you thought to be your best sermon ever will help you gain a healthy perspective on your own (un)worthiness. Stacking chairs or cleaning toilets as a part-time job will chasten one’s arrogance.

Tie them to a Band of Brothers

Proverbs 18:24 “…there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” 

There is that person that sees you struggling in class who sees you battle to understand the accent of the professor and decides to sit next to you to translate from English to…English. Or the group of people carpooling with you helping you to memorize your Greek vocabulary or how to parse Hebrew verbs. Or the person who, seeing that your computer crashed just before the exams, takes from his own savings to buy you a new computer. Or the professor that takes you under his wing, availing himself to answer all your immature questions. Or the ones that will invite your family to spend Thanksgiving or Christmas with them so that you wouldn’t feel lonely. Or the alumnus who shares their notes with you and calls weekly to pray with you as he’s been there before. Seminary truly places you into a band of brothers, for life.

The privilege of studying alongside godly men, going through thick and thin together, is immeasurable. No online class or self-study will provide that. Nothing will ever replace doing life together while getting an education. There is such a thing as the “invisible curriculum” including the lessons you learn through your own life’s trials and those you glean from observing others. 

Dr William Barrick was asked by a student one day what his best advice would be for one who embarks on a seminary journey. Dr Barrick replied: “Finish”.

To all my brothers preparing to attend seminary, may the Lord be with you and may you remain faithful until you finish. 

Christian, Fiderana, finish and come back soon. 

Being an Iconic Father

I looked up the icons representing fathers on this Father’s Day… A beer mug, a coffee cup, a fishing rod, sport related items, a watch, a briefcase, a beard and moustache, a shirt and tie…

That’s how the world sees fathers… and some of those are the gifts we are most likely to receive today.🙄

Would you say that these sum up what our wives and kids see in us? Hopefully…not.

Icon comes from a Greek word that means “image” or “representation”. 

The dictionary defines an icon as “A person or thing widely admired especially for having great influence or significance in a particular sphere.”

Fathers, what influence and significance do we have in our spheres (family, work, society)? 

Here are 4 icons to add to the list, representing 4 ways by which we can be “iconic” fathers:

1- Portraying – We are Mirrors. Men (and women) were made into God’s image to carry His image (Gen 1:26-28). We live according to the purpose we have been created for when we display the closest representation possible of our Father. Mirrors are pointless if they don’t reflect. Broken mirrors do not reflect well. We are the best mirrors we can be when we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us to conform us to the perfect Icon of the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ.

2- Pointing – We are Magnifying Glasses. We are here to help those around us see God bigger and better. As we ponder and share about who He is, what He has done (and continues to do), and His will for mankind, we help others see better their desperate need for a Father. We do it with what we say and what we do. Magnifying glasses cannot magnify themselves; they focus and help focus on Someone else. 

3- Parenting – We are Manuals and Mallets. We are to teach and discipline (Eph 6:4). We are to represent God’s loving authority and gracious guidance. Within the home, we are both tender teachers and just judges. Parenting is about molding a heart to see its desperate need for God, to have righteous affections towards God, and to reverently fear Him. Manuals and mallets are there to be barriers and encouragement along the way. 

4- Praying – We are Matin warriors. Matins are morning prayers. The home is where dependence on God is first modeled. In a world where fathers are to be strong and have answers to everything, a Christian father finds that strength on his knees. Those around us are able to see the fruits of our prayers, and they also will notice when we don’t pray. May we also pray for those who don’t have a father in their lives, that they will turn and find comfort 

May you have a blessed day today, and continue to grow to be a true icon of our heavenly Father.

The Service of the Word

Note, “the service”, not the services. There is this trend today of creating a false dichotomy between the public – i.e., preaching – and the private – i.e., biblical counseling – ministry of the Word. Pulpit proclamation and Private discipleship are seen as two tasks or “types” of ministries the pastor must be involved in. These are two spheres of application of the same divine truth which are often pitched one against the other, with advocates of each camp being wary of too much of the other and not enough of their own specialty in the church.

There are two faulty perceptions of the service of the Word that need to be addressed here:  

1- A Faulty Segregation of Servants

The good old separation of clergy and laymen. In our passage in Acts 6, it is interesting to notice that the men appointed to serve tables (Acts 6:2, 5) are also later involved in the service of the Word, as we see Stephen involved in both private arguments about the Word (Acts 6:8-10) and public proclamation of the same Word (Acts 7:1-53). 

These 7 men were not pastors nor elders; they were laymen in the church. Isn’t it sad that names like Prochorus, Parmenas and Nicanor are customarily ignored in Christian circles for baby names? Or that Timon’s name is more attached to a meerkat in a cartoon than to a biblical champion of service? But I digress… 

God’s servants are all those who display undeniable characteristics of a Spirit-filled life, whether they have a title, a position in the church, or not. These servants are marked by:

  • Set-apart living: Acts 6:3 tells us that they were of “good reputation”, and verse 5 describes Stephen as “full of faith”. These men stood out because their lives 
  • Servant-heartedness: When they were chosen, the whole congregation wholeheartedly vouched for them (v.5), because they were already marked and recognized as having what it takes for the task. Their brothers and sisters in the church knew them and knew they can serve in this capacity. Faithfulness in service is always noticed. 
  • Scripture Saturation: They were “full of the Spirit and of wisdom.” (Acts 6:3). Being filled with the Spirit is equated in Scripture with letting the Word of Christ dwell richly (See Eph 3:19-19 and Col 3:16). Stephen’s discourse in Acts 7 attests to that. 

Whether he is a pastor or not, the servant of the Word mut be marked by holiness, humility, and diligence. A servant serves, with or without a badge.   

2- A Faulty Segregation of Services

As already mentioned with these men, they were involved in both. We see Philip preaching in Acts 8:5 and then ministering privately to the Ethiopian eunuch later in that chapter (Acts 8:25-38). We see the apostles involved in both in their ministry. They are both “the service of the Word”. 

God’s Word transforms and shapes lives either through the public proclamation of the Word (preaching, teaching, apologetic forums, etc.) or through the private ministry of the Word (evangelism, soul care, counseling, personal discipleship, etc.). And this is because:

  • There is only one Author to Scripture: God the Holy Spirit, the One who inspired the writers, is also the One who illuminates the minds of those who hear it preach or shared one-on-one. He is the Spirit that confers power to the sermon and wisdom to the friend’s advice. The preacher and the counselor are under the same authority and guidance.   
  • There is only one Approach to Scripture: Study to interpret and apply the timeless truths contained in God’s Word is always required, whether one is boldly proclaiming the Word from the pulpit, or unnoticeably trying to win his brother over. “Thus says the Lord…” is the only message that matters vehiculated by the servant of the Word. 
  • There is only one Aim to the use of Scripture: Paul defines that aim in 1 Thes 1:1-12 when he says “…just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and bearing witness to each one of you as a father would his own children, so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.” Holiness, Christlikeness, is the single goal, always. 

Both “types” are based upon the conviction that God’s Word is inspired, authoritative, sufficient, and relevant. For both tasks, the servant of the Word must endeavor to become “approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” (2 Tim 2:15). 

From http://www.freebibleimages.org

Welcome to our new Project “Watchman” !

Therismos Investment Company (TIC) was created a few years ago to “fuel the Lord’s harvest“. The vision of TIC continues to be to contribute to help pastors and church leaders towards a sustainable income so they can focus on the ministry of the Word and prayer. TIC also desires to support the evangelism and missions efforts carried out by our partner churches and Christian organizations. Finally, TIC has been established to contribute to making Madagascar 3M self-sustaining in a few years, and thus be a model to other local Christian businesses.

We have been trying to reach these goals through launching various projects, yet, after a few setbacks and disappointments, we realized that we needed someone at the helm, really focusing on the implementation and coordination of income generating projects for TIC. And we have been praying for God to send the right person, with a heart for ministry and the adequate background for the task. Well, God answered our prayers.

Meet Mpitily (his name means “Watchman” in Malagasy), our new Therismos Investment Company Project Manager, or should I say watchman 😁. Here is more about him in his own words and how the Lord led him to be part of TIC.

“My parents taught me from my early childhood that good deeds don’t save, only receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior does. So, I believed it, sincerely. The problem was that I believed more in the fact that I did the sinner’s prayer than in Jesus. As a result, when I came to realize how sinful I was, I started to doubt my salvation. Would Jesus still welcome me into Heaven although I continuously trample on His holiness? That question tormented me for long, leaving me afraid of going to hell every single night. 
But then, throughout the years, through Bible studies and teachings especially from a person at the Scripture Union, I came to grasp more and more of who Jesus is and the implication of His death and resurrection for my life. Now I believe in Jesus, not just in a prayer.”

How did you came to be a project manager at TIC?
“To make a long story short, since I was a freshman at high school (2011), I already had that vision or desire to support non-profit initiatives (like a school for really poor children) through business. Consequently, I decided to study business management. When I got my Associate’s degree in 2015, I decided to start a small business to see what’s my worth in the real world. Unfortunately, the results were way below my expectations and I sold the business in 2018 and focused on pursuing my other passion, performing arts and cinema production. In 2020, I applied to a university to study theology overseas, was accepted, yet could not go due to lack of funds. My dreams and plans were shattered. I was confused and disappointed, grumbling to God: “Is that how you love your child?” A new season started. A season during which I had to find a job unrelated to my plans and dreams. A season when God confronted my grumbling heart and proved to me that I was to be grateful in every season – good or bad, as He remains faithful, sufficient, and good. He alone knows what is best for me. And He also provided a wife for me, Manou. We got married on December 28th, 2021.”

As we came back from honeymoon, I enquired the Lord if He wanted me to consider other activities. I remembered hearing and reading about Madagascar 3M and Therismos, a company that has similar visions and desires to mine. So, I contacted Faly, just in case they needed someone and here I am. I am thrilled to be part of TIC.”

Please join me in praying for Mpitily as he embarks in this new season of his life and ministry, and for Therismos Investment Company to be blessed by the Lord to fuel His harvest.

The Ellingsons Move it Move it to Madagascar !!!

From left to Right: Clara, Isabella, David, Ashley, Lydia and Anna

It all started one summer in a Historical Theology class at The Master’s Seminary. I was sitting next to this guy who I thought was the coolest kind of nerd as I heard he was the one developing dank summary memory sheets for Hebrew vocabulary and grammar rules. I had to get to know him. Then I found out he loves dad jokes, 90s rap, and missions.

A match made in heaven. 😁

Then we met his family and found out his wife is even cooler than he is (sorry Dave 😝), and they have those 4 very cute blond girls, 3 of which are almost exactly the same age as our daughters. Another match made in heaven.

We shared our ministry vision with them and unapologetically mentioned that we are looking for teammates. Next thing we know, they come for a exploratory trip 2 days after we returned home in August 2017. We were able to show them some of the realities of life and ministry in Madagascar, and as they left, we actually thought we would never hear from them again. 

We were wrong. The Lord placed on their heart a burden for the Malagasy people and a desire to be involved in training men for a life-long ministry of the Word. 🙏🏽 

The Salt’n’Pepper duo was formed. 😎 Pepper and I 🙄 started to pray together, dream together, and plan together. We have seen our plans delayed by the whole pandemic thing and yet know that now is God’s perfect timing. 

Today, the Ellingsons are flying the 11,063 miles between Los Angeles and Antananarivo to come serve the Lord with us here in Madagascar. What a great sacrifice they are making for the sake of the Gospel. They are leaving family and friends behind, coming to a new culture, 2 new languages (French and Malagasy) and the weirdest teammates they could have picked. 

Please pray for them as they transition to – literally – the other side of the world. As I write this article, they are at the airport, ready to board the plane, one hour away from departure.

Please pray for them individually and as a family to settle well, learn the language quick and to be mighty tools in the hands of the Lord here in Madagascar. 🙏🏽

We love them so much and are thrilled to have them here with us. 

Displaying God’s Wisdom in 2022

“…so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.”

Ephesians 3:10

The mystery has been revealed. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…” (1 Tim 1:15) Astounding truth! God became man; the man Christ Jesus who knew no sin became sin. Jews and Gentiles now can become the righteousness of God through the God-Man who lived a perfect life and died a perfect death. 

Another astounding truth: He has chosen, called, saved and appointed the church to proclaim this message! And when the church does, all cosmic powers marvel at the wisdom of God!

A new year starts today by God’s amazing grace. My prayer is that the wisdom of God be made manifest in the proclamation, testimony, activities and involvement of the church in this fallen world. 

May those who have been redeemed by Christ testify in words and deeds to God’s wise plan of salvation. May we bring the HOPE of the Gospel to those who desperately need it. 

God’s wisdom is magnified when the church:

  • Proclaims the Gospel with Boldness (Eph 3:12a): in an era when any conviction is considered bigotry, the church must more than ever be the pillar and support of the truth (1 Tim 3:15). At individual level, and as a community, the church must be busy with what it has been primarily redeemed for: to be disciples of Christ calling others to become disciples of Christ. 

How to apply this in 2022? Prayerfully think of 3 people you would like to share the Gospel to this year. Regularly engage with them as the Lord allows and continually pray for their salvation. Pray also for “spontaneous” opportunities, people that cross your path to whom you can be light. 

  • Displays Absolute Dependance (Eph 3:12b): May we individually and corporately pray more than we ever had. May we realize even more that in this fight, we need constant communication with our general. May we realize that prayer must be the heartbeat of everything we do. Friends, every great endeavor to glorify God starts on your knees. Your personal life, the life of the church, missions and evangelism, everything! What are the new resolutions you set for yourself this year? Being salt and light in the world? Fight injustices, such as abortion? Transformation of the world you live in? A God-honoring marriage? Being God-honoring in the workplace? It all starts on your knees. 

How to apply this in 2022? Have you considered starting a prayer journal? Have you considered seriously using the prayer app that has been on your phone since long ago? Humble people pray (1 Pet 5:6-7). May we humble ourselves before our God. 

  • Displays Absolute Confidence (Eph 3:13): Afflictions are many in a fallen world. The global pandemic continues to bring its share of hardships to many people around the world. But God is still on His throne (Isa 6:3). His purposes still cannot be thwarted; He still does whatever He wishes according to His promises. He will prevail. He will finish the good work He started in us. He will return to reign and make everything right.  Afflictions and persecution sometime even accelerate the process of sanctification. He works all things for our eternal good and His glory. In that, we can rest. 

How to apply this in 2022? Choose to put on biblical-worldview lenses as you look at the news, think about your future, make daily choices. Let the Bible dictate how you live, not public opinions or governmental mandates. This year may be a good time for you to seek to develop your understanding of the Bible and how it applies to present circumstances? It may be a year for you to learn to contend for the faith, “…being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and fear.” (1 Pet 3:15)

May He be enthroned as King in our lives as we submit every area of our lives to His supreme care. 

When our lives manifest boldness, dependance and confidence, the whole universe marvels at the wisdom of our God. May we be honorable tools in the hands of our Wise God! 

Happy new year!

Therismos Invests in Fishers of Fishermen

Madagascar. One of the biggest islands in the world. 4828km of coastline. Marine fisheries provide revenue and sustenance for all the country. Traditional, artisanal, recreational, and industrial fisheries are all performed.

Traditional fishing, undertaken on foot or canoe, represents nearly 68% of total fish production, largely focusing on exportable products, including crustaceans, holothurians and cephalopods, with men making up 97% of the workforce. It is the livelihood of thousands of families in the city of Mahajanga on the West Coast of Madagascar. 

Petite Plage is replete with hotels, restaurants and other beachfront attractions. It is also one of fishermen village. Hundreds of fishing boats launch from and return to that beach daily, bringing back their catch which is then sold on the local markets and eateries. The beach is also occupied at times by locals holding to traditional beliefs to practice rituals to connect with ancestors and plead for their help to prosper their livelihood. 

Pasteur Andry planted a church a few years ago in Petite Plage and has always had the vision to reach out to this community of fishermen. He has shared the Gospel with many of them and has personally invested in the fishing business to be part of that crowd. He has over the years been able to observe that the best way to relate to them is to be involved in what they do. This facilitates the daily conversations, and the life-on-life imparting of the Gospel. 

Therismos has decided to come alongside Pastor Andry’s efforts and is going to invest in fishing boats and gear to drive his vision forward. In line with our motto, “fueling the Lord’s harvest”, this project will generate income for those involved in it but will also, and mainly, come alongside Petite Plage Biblical Baptist Church’s outreach endeavors. 

By the nature of the activity, fishing requires a few things from those involved in it: 

  • It requires physical and mental dedication
  • It requires courage, patience and resilience
  • It requires skill and knowledge of one’s environment
  • It is still is subject to divine providence

 All of these are also required of those God calls to be His disciple-makers.

The Lord Jesus Christ chose 4 fishermen as part of his group of 12 disciples. He saw in these men character traits shaped by their line of work, which could be applied and developed for evangelism.

The Lord told them in Matthew 4:19 “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (LSB) 

This mandate has been extended to us in Matthew 28:19-20 as we are called to become disciples of Christ making disciples of all nations.

Please pray with us for this new venture. Please pray that the Lord will use and bless this project to bring many to the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. May many turn away from their idolatrous practices and bow their knees to the only mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5). May this project flourish and bring an income for many fishermen in the region. And may they in turn be fishers of their fellow fishermen.

‘From Is To Ought’ – Living Out A Christian Identity

Who am I? Where do I come from? Where am I going? These fundamental, existential questions have always engaged the human mind. They relate to notions of identity, belonging and purpose. Over the centuries SocratesPlatoKantKierkegaardLeibnizSartreRicœur and many others have tried to answer these questions. Their explorations, alas, were limited by the noetic effects of sin. Thus answers are hard to come by and typically dissatisfying.

Identity, Belonging and Purpose

Identity is defined as “who a person is, or the qualities of a person or group that make them different from others.” It is composed of several quantitative and qualitative aspects on several dimensions. For example, the personal, legal, social and cultural. All of us occasionally – explicitly or tacitly – ponder our identity. But when we do, we are not only tormented by the unending search for our individual particularities. For we also desire a collective belonging. We all want to be part of a group that we can call ours: a family, a community, a nation.

Injustice and Identity Politics

The riots and demonstrations following the murder of George Floyd in the United States, as well as the wind of turmoil that this has stirred internationally, including Africa, reveals something important. The coexistence of communities with perceptible differences is precarious and brittle. Yet the reactions also strengthened feelings of continental esteem. Pride of being African invades everyone’s hearts by association with the descendants of slaves living on American soil. We can empathise with those who declare that they suffer from stigma due to their difference in skin colour.

But the church must demonstrate that the gospel is the only valid response to the problem of racial prejudice, as well economic and social tensions. Our tangible unity and intentionality in seeking to love and understand our neighbours in spite of our ethnical diversity will prove that Jesus Christ abolished all barriers to reconciliation. Just as his work made harmony between God and men possible, so too does it move us towards reconciliation with different members of the human race.

Who(se) Am I?

A defining question is often overlooked in discussing the concept of identity. This crucial question is: “Whose am I?” In Matthew 22:21, Jesus answered those who sought to trap him with a now famous reply. “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” What we do flows from who we are. And, importantly, who we are flows from whose we are.

Any creature made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26), redeemed in both body and soul by his Son (1 Corinthians 6:19-201 Peter 1:18-19), and in-dwelt by his Spirit (John 14:16-17), belongs to God. Entirely and essentially.

This has several implications for the discernment of our identity, belonging and purpose.

Whose I Am Determines Who I Am

The notion of identity outlines differences as much as it does shared traits. The philosopher and sociologist Michel de Certeau declared that: “A society is defined by what it excludes. It is constituted by differentiating itself. To form a group is to create strangers. There is a bi-polar structure essential to any society: it poses an ‘outside’ so that there would be a ‘between us’.” A clear division is inevitably made between those who are part of the group and those who are not.

In today’s society, we like to categorise people. We do it, both knowingly and unwittingly, all the time. For in our minds, we distinguish people by their nationality, race, geographical location, religion, or social status.

The only classification that matters is whether one is in Christ or not. All other distinctions are unimportant 

Is My Identity In Christ?

But the only classification that really matters is whether one is in Christ or not. All other distinctions are unimportant. Your reliance upon God (or lack thereof) determines how you will live your life now. And also where you will spend eternity.

In Christ, all those who repent of their sins and believe in him are given a new identity. This is attached to a collective entity, the Church (1 Corinthians 12:12-31). They become children of God (John 1:12-131 John 3:1). Ephesians 2:19says, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household.”

God has made us one nation no matter where we come from.

A Citizen Of Heaven, Living On Earth

Ephesians 1:4-5 says this. “In love he predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to himself, according to the kind intention of His will.” We are citizens of heaven and we are adopted into the family of God. As followers of Christ, we have been set apart and called to live a life separate from the world. 1 Peter 2:9 defines the people of God as “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession.” What an amazing privilege and what an extraordinary gift of grace that God allows us to identify with him through his Son.

We can all be proud of our Malagasy, Congolese, or Javanese nationality. But there is an identity that we should delight in all the more. That of being a citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20). When Paul writes to the church of Philippi, he defines them as “the saints in Jesus Christ who are in Philippi” (Philippians 1:1). Their celestial identity precedes their earthly identity. It is the same for us. We are Christians first and foremost.

Beyond Ethnocentrism

And yet these two affiliations can co-exist. Both should be affirmed. Although one takes precedence. We are Christians temporarily placed by God in Madagascar, DRC, or Zambia. We can – and must – sometimes feel like strangers in our country (1 Peter 2:11). Our life must be decidedly different from that of our fellow countrymen. This can lead to distancing and even persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). For we live like strangers, concerned with the interests of a better homeland than our present country or city (Hebrews 11:16; 13:14). Ethnocentrism must give way to a unity centred on our new eternal identity.

My Identity Will Determine What I Do

Kant articulates his self-cognitive reflections around 3 questions:

  1. What can I know?
  2. What should I do?
  3. And, what can I hope for?

He would have avoided himself many headaches by conforming his answers to the Bible. For it contains clear answers to these questions. Therefore we can use them to structure more thinking about identity, below.

1. What Can I Know?

First, salvation makes us worshipers of God, individually and collectively. The ultimate goal of our redemption is to glorify God. We become living instruments of celebration that are to represent God. The additional benefits – such as our forgiveness, adoption and eternal future in his presence – should not make us forget that God works primarily for His glory.

Each Christian contributes to building a “spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5), resplendent and pleasant in the eyes of the Lord. And heaven will be filled of worshipers. In Revelation 5:9-10, God’s plan is fulfilled. He has assembled to himself a kingdom of priests. The contemporary Church is a foretaste of that which is to come. Therefore, it must display love and moral purity. For it represents the character of God and validates the gospel’s transforming power.

2. What Should I Do?

Second, salvation makes us witnesses for God, both individually and collectively. We were set apart to herald “the excellencies of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9). Indeed, we are meant make the presence of Christ in us tangible by our good conduct (1 Peter 2:12). Whether at our place of work, our school, or at the supermarket, our lives intersect the lives of non-believers. We are called to be image-bearers and message-bearers wherever God places us.

3. What Can I Hope For?

Our concerns reveal what really matters to us. It is now 213 years after the Slave Trade Act, 65 years after the discriminatory laws in the US, and less than 30 years after the end of the Apartheid regime in South Africa. Several analysts have weighed the progresses made towards racial equality. Perhaps we should also use this time to evaluate the evolution of the Christian faith on African soil? Given that we’ve had the Bible in our own languages since the mid-1800s.

Some of us may be worried about our political and economic future. Others actively work to contribute to their country’s economic development or to the establishment of social justice. And still others campaign for, or against, governmental action. All of these are laudable. Unless they take precedence over what God has called us to do. Our divergent identity from the world must lead us to act differently. Our priorities are dissimilar and peculiar, so are our goals.

Instead of operating to make our African countries a paradise, let us evangelise to take many of our fellow citizens to God’s heavenly Paradise. What questions must we raise regarding the concerns and priorities of the body of Christ in Africa? A tragic end is promised to those whose names are not part of God’s “Book of Life” (Revelation 20:15). This is what we should chiefly worry about for our loved ones, our friends, and our family.

Our God Promises A Brighter Future

I have a prayer. That the fireworks on the days we celebrate our independence from colonisers throughout the continent will remind us that there is a great celebration in heaven every time a lost soul takes refuge in the Lord (Luke 15:7). May this give us the zeal to proclaim to all we can that the real celebration is yet to come! When all the citizens of the kingdom of God will be in the presence of their Creator. “He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.” (Revelation 21:7)

This Is Who We Are

Who are you? Have you repented from your sins and entrusted your life to Christ? Then you are a son or daughter of God. Whose are you? His. God’s. Where do you come from? You were created by God to glorify him. Where are you going? To the place where God dwells among men (Revelation 21: 3).

As such, we must be disciple-making disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). We are called to proclaim the sovereignty of Christ, exhorting others to worship and fear God. Everyone has their role to play in the great commission. Be it to send, train, go, support, or pray for those who are at the forefront. But there can be no spectators. We are all in the same boat. As the church, missions must be our passion and as individuals, we must seek that which glorifies God. That is who we are!

[This article was published on The Gospel Coalition Africa and is available here: https://africa.thegospelcoalition.org/article/from-is-to-ought-living-out-a-christian-identity/]