Thursday, February 9, 2012

Faith Comes By Hearing

Months before the Jesus Spa came to Mansoa, Guinea Bissau, a handful of hungry siblings were regularly finding their way to the developing YFC center in hopes of getting food or money.  For weeks Wade & Kate showed them compassion and provided for some of their physical needs.  Eventually, however, Wade noticed one teenage brother who would often sit and watch them work on construction for hours, not offering to help with any of the labor, but always moving in when food and water appeared.  Finally Wade confronted this capable young man with a message from the Bible that he who does not work should not eat.  He offered work, but the teen chose instead to flee from the property and not return.  It was then that Wade decided he needed to learn more about this family, and with a little detective work he was able to find out where they lived.  When he arrived at their home in hopes of meeting the parents, he discovered a blind father and an overworked mother of twelve.  The father was managing to provide some income for his family as a beggar, and was teaching his sons how to be effective beggars as well, as is expected in that culture.  Sons of a beggar become beggars themselves, regardless of how capable they might be to do productive work of some kind.  Wade shared some truths of scripture with these parents, including the way to spiritual freedom through Jesus Christ, and the Christian work ethic.  As the Spirit of God illuminated these truths in the hearts of Dominga and her husband, they both made the choice to follow Jesus and turn from serving demons.  Wade then asked the father to give him one of his sons as an employee, and promised to pay the boy a fair wage and teach him how to make his way in the world as a man who can take pride in his work rather than as a beggar.  The teenager who had previously been hanging around watching and taking advantage of opportunities to get something for nothing was not interested.  He was already steeped in an ethos of laziness.  So the father gave Wade his 14-yr. old son to work on the team constructing the new guest house, and this boy is now being mentored by the best.  It took some effort to teach the young man how to actually apply himself to hard labor, but eventually he began experiencing the sense of self-worth that develops when one produces something by the labor of his own hands, and he is now earning his pay and has become the primary supporter of his family. 

In the meantime, Dominga and her husband have tried to make strides toward a more Christ-honoring lifestyle, but a blind man and an illiterate wife in a third world country have few opportunities to learn what that entails.  They desired to be instructed in scripture, but had no means for making that happen.  In their ignorance there seemed to be little hope of breaking all the chains of their animistic way of life, but it is never a surprise when God provides supernaturally for the legitimate needs of a sincere heart who looks to Him to have those needs met.

While I was home preparing for this trip, Kate informed me about an organization called Faith Comes By Hearing.  This organization produces an audio version of the entire Bible, called a Proclaimer, in 627 spoken languages.  According to the FCBH website, "The Proclaimer is a digital player dedicated to playing God's Word in the local heart language."  The battery will provide fifteen hours of playing time, and can be recharged enough times to listen to the entire New Testament over a thousand times.  The microchip cannot be recorded over and cannot wear out from use.  If the battery is damaged or lost, the Proclaimer can still be run by the built-in solar panel as long as it is placed in direct sunlight.  The sound is digital quality and loud enough to be heard by groups of up to 300.  If ever there was a solution to the problem faced by new believers such as Dominga and her husband, the Proclaimer is it!  My conversation with a representative from Faith Comes By Hearing ended with a promise for them to send me two free Proclaimers in Portuguese Creole to take to Guinea Bissau, where the local missionaries could place them into the hands of those most likely to make good use of them. 

Dominga, who doesn't know her own age, had been invited by Kate to come to our spa, with specific instructions to come at 4:00 since that is the time we would be providing pampering services.  She showed up one day in the late morning, however, with a passel of children in tow, as this was the only time she could get away from her work and come.  We welcomed her and quickly drew some water for her pedicure and facial, and instructed the children to stay outside and play.  While Kate and Tonya were giving their attentions to Dominga's shoulders and feet, we asked about her children, commenting on how amazing it was to us that she had such a large family.  She proudly talked about her two sets of twins and the age span of her twelve children from 26 years down to 16 months.  This mother has been nursing babies continuously for 26 years!  While we Americans were picking our jaws up off the floor, she told us that having a baby is easy.  She does her morning work, then she has her baby, and then she cooks dinner.  And that's that.  One more revelation of the vast differences between the lives of soft American women and our tough West African sisters.

When the massaging, and scrubbing, and painting, and praying over Dominga were finished, and she was feeling thoroughly loved and cared for, we presented her with a Proclaimer to take home to her family.  The only condition, which comes from the Faith Comes By Hearing ministry, is that she commit to playing a portion of scripture for at least thirty minutes once a week for as many people as she can gather together to listen.  She was visibly happy to receive this gift, and indicated that she would listen to it almost daily with her family in their little one room mud hut in a village so far off a driveable road that it is accessible only by way of a long footpath.  The curiosity of having such a tool in her possession, however, is likely to intrigue others in the primitive village into stopping by and listening as well.  The Word of God is now being audibly proclaimed in this little Monsanka village for the very first time!


  1. I just got an email from Wade saying that he just heard that Dominga and her family are listening to the Proclaimer every evening! (This is not just a reading of the scripture, but a DRAMATIC reading, bringing it to life for the hearers with voice actors!)

  2. i'm glad you found just the right person to give this to. and with her passel of children, that's a lot of ears to hear good things.