Saturday, May 31, 2008

News Is Coming.... (by Thom)

Remember waaaayyyyy back in February when I promised some news coming about our future roles in ministry here? Well, we were hoping to find things out sooner but it just didn't happen. However, we found out some big news yesterday. We still can't share it here yet but next week we should have the go-ahead to make the announcement. "Why tease us, Thom?" you may ask; well, we'd appreciate your prayers, for one. This is going to be a significant shift for us and will involve a lot of change. Also, the change in ministry roles will affect a lot of other people too and we would ask for prayer that it be shared and received in grace. We're really excited about this upcoming item and look forward to letting you know soon!
In other McMurray news, I will be flying to Dakar, Senegal for a week next Sunday (June 8th). I'll be there to learn some new bookkeeping things. Please keep me in prayer and also Amanda and the girls as they'll be back in Bamako.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Who Are Missionaries? Part II (by Thom)

In the last post I mentioned a bit about who our fellow C&MA missionaries in Mali are and where they live and where they're from. However, I completely forgot to mention what they do!
I did mention 10 of the 20 missionary singles or couples work at the hospital. Most of them are nurses but there are two doctors (an OB-GYN and a pediatrician) and a laboratory specialist, too.. We also have a missionary who works on the various building projects and repairs at the hospital and other mission properties in Koutiala and one other whose job it is to be the director of the hospital.
At the moment we have a couple of pastors in the country but we normally have four or more. Two are currently on furlough so that number will be increasing soon.
Of course, I'm the bookkeeper for the field but I'm currently the only office-type person here. We are expecting a new missionary to come later this year to help out with office administration. I'm definitely looking forward to that!
We had a couple recently that specialized in technical ministry. They worked on computer, electrical, and video projects such as installing solar systems at a Bible school, teaching computer classes at a juvenile prison, and making a ministry video with a focus on health care. They are now on furlough but we also have other missionaries here who work with radio ministries and in prisons. Also, we have a teammate whose primary focus is on teaching prostitutes about Jesus and training them in another trade to help them escape that life. Amanda works with her in that ministry and has seen many powerful stories about changed lives.
Of course, most missionaries find side projects to work on, too. One of our hospital missionaries has started a soccer tournament in Koutiala. Some teach English as a second language. Others spend free time at the Bible school training future pastors.
It's amazing how many different skill-sets we have here amongst the missionaries. I like to say that if you have a useful ability in the US you have a useful ability on the mission field.
One more thing: if you're interested in putting faces with names and jobs one of our teammates put together a website featuring the missionaries here. You'll find it at cmamali.org

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Who Are Missionaries? (by Thom)

I'm a numbers guy. I like statistics and breaking things down to groups and subsets. With that in mind, I thought it might be interesting to know a few statistics about C&MA missionaries in Mali.
There are 20 missionary units currently assigned to Mali. Of those, 14 are couples and the other 6 are single women, making a total of 34 missionaries in Mali. However, 6 of those couples are on furlough now leaving us with 22 missionaries currently in country.
Missionaries to Mali are a diverse group. We have Americans, a Canadian, a couple where the husband is Chilean and the wife is Costa Rican, Dutch, German, and there's also a short term worker here from Switzerland.
Many of our American missionaries are from a close proximity in the US. We have two families from the same town in Iowa and 3 families and 2 singles from Ohio.
Our work here has grown a lot in the last few years. This is mostly because of the hospital. Of the 20 missionary units 10 of them work at the hospital. That number is likely to keep growing in the next few years as I know more people will be coming soon to join the team.
The hospital opened in 2006 and changed the dynamic of our field quite a bit. Of the 20 missionary units twelve of them have been in Mali for five years or less. However, not all of them are new to Africa. We have recently received missionaries transferring to Mali from Senegal, Cote d'Ivoire, Niger, and Gabon. Especially Gabon. Two current families have moved here from Gabon and they won't be the last. (The mission has a well-established hospital there and the former missionaries to Gabon offer a great perspective on the new work here).
Many of the missionaries here are new, but the others have quite the tenure here. Of the 8 units that have been in Mali more than 5 years, five of them have been here at least twenty years.
Geographically in Mali we're pretty concentrated. All but 5 of the missionaries currently in Mali live in Koutiala. Two live in a small village and three of us (Amanda, myself and another lady) live in the capital city of Bamako.
It's an interesting group and one we've enjoyed being a part of. I hope this was interesting and maybe helped you feel a little closer to us here in Mali.