Sat, Dec 1:     Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. – Matthew 5:7  As Bakary prepares to go to town, he thinks about these words he heard on the radio…blessed are the merciful.  “Mercy isn’t that difficult; we always tell one another to forgive and to keep the peace,” he thinks to himself.  Yet Bakary knows his own heart.  He knows since childhood he has been taught to pay back evil, to defend his name, that mercy is for those weak in body and resolve.  Yet why did he hear that if he is merciful, he would be shown mercy?  Sometimes this is so confusing…  Pray that as MNKs hear more and more Scripture the Truth will permeate their minds and come to understand that the true definition of Mercy is God’s unmerited favor and forgiveness.

Sun, Dec 2:            Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. – Matthew 5:8  Pure in heart…my heart is pure.  I am seeking after God.  I am keeping fast.  I am not swallowing my spit.  I am not smoking during the day.  I am not sneaking food.  I am doing everything God requires of me.   I am…I am not…  In my own strength, I will get to God.  Pray that as Bakary and his family enter the third week of the fast month, they will see that the One True God is not a God impressed by what we do or don’t do; rather He calls us to worship and fellowship with Him.

Mon, Dec 3:            Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God. – Matthew 5:9  “Sons of God?”  Now there they go again, implying that God has children!  God never married so how could he have children?  Those Christians have really strange ideas!  Bakary’s young sons know all the arguments to refute the claim that Jesus is the Son of God; now they have heard a new one – peacemakers will be called sons of God.  Everyone knows God is not interested in peacemakers; he needs us to defend him and fight for him on earth!  Pray that this truth of God will become known to the MNK, that He does not need us to fight for Him; rather our responsibility is worship and obedience.

Tue, Dec 4:            Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 5:10  One of Fatou’s childhood friends has married a man from another tribe.  That’s not so bad, but she now claims she has become a Christian!  How can she do that to her family and friends?  How can she become a pig-eating, alcohol-drinking heathen who neither prays nor fasts?  Pray that Fatou will see the personal relationship with God her friend now has instead of holding to the strong taboos of do’s and don’ts of Islam.

Wed, Dec 5:            I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. – John 10:11  Lamin is listening to the radio.  “Now there’s a strange saying.  Who said that?  Jesus?  How was Jesus a shepherd?  He was a carpenter, not a shepherd.  At least that’s what the Christians claim.  How could he know anything about sheep?”  Traditional MNK thought holds Jesus more as a type of magician.  He spoke from the cradle; he made animals from clay; he did all kinds of things.  But he was NOT a shepherd.  Pray that the Holy Spirit will open for Lamin the ability to clearly understand the words of Jesus.

Thu, Dec 6:            I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me will live, even though he dies. – John 11:25   How can you live even though you die?  Kadi has just heard on the radio that her brother has died.  Now she hears a car coming to the village; this will be transport for her to attend his funeral.  Just last night she heard a commercial on the radio that talked about life in death…does this mean her brother could be alive?  Kadi’s mind is so confused; it must be the grief.  He was so young to die.  Who is going to take care of his wife and children?  Pray that the Holy Spirit will enable all of us to comprehend those things that are outside of our human understanding, that we will be able to understand spiritual truths.

Fri, Dec 7:            And whoever lives in me will never die.  Do you believe this? – John 11:26  That’s the way the radio spot ended yesterday evening…do you believe this?  Do I believe what?  Kadi is overcome with grief.  She just buried her brother; everyone was wailing and crying; people were praying and reading and reciting the Qu’ran.  No one had any real hope or knowledge of where her brother is…whether or not he is in heaven…whether or not he is in hell…whether or not he is somewhere in between.  And now she hears that Jesus said whoever lives in me will never die…  Where is truth?  Where is reality?  Where is her brother?  Pray that Kadi and others who hear the words of Jesus on the radio will find Truth and Hope in them.

Sat, Dec 8:            I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me. – John 14:6  If this statement is true, then it stands in direct opposition to and contradiction of the teachings of Islam.  Jesus was a prophet, but not the last one.  How can God allow these false teachings to spread?  Yesterday in the mosque, Bakary heard all kinds of talk about the claims of Christians, about Jesus equating himself with God.  Yet the Qu’ran does teach that Jesus was sinless and did not lie.  So, if He didn’t lie, then what about this verse in John?  Critical thinking and independent thought are strongly discouraged in this communal society.  Pray that Bakary and other men who are trying to listen to God’s voice will have the gift of hearing and believing from the One who hears all.

Sun, Dec 9:            And why do you worry about clothes?  See how the lilies of the field grow.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you? – Matthew 6:28,30  The end of Ramadan is less than a week away and Bakary still hasn’t purchased the required new clothes for his children.  His wives will have to take care of themselves…he cannot be expected to buy that many new outfits.  He doesn’t even have the money for his mother and father.  Pray for Bakary and every other MNK man and woman who are concerned with the importance of this new outfit to see that this verse does not reflect what we wear, rather that God loves us and cares about every aspect of our lives!

Mon, Dec 10:            I will pour out my spirit on all people.  Your old men will dream dreams. – Joel 2:28  Kitiimoo – Night of Power!  This is the night when Muslims around the world stay up all night, reciting the Qu’ran and waiting for the angel Gabriel to visit them.  It is the night they believe the angel visited Mohammed in the caves and brought him the Qu’ran; this was to replace the corrupted holy book of the Jews and Christians.  Pray that the MNKs who sit up and wait this night will indeed be visited by God, and that their eyes and ears and hearts will be opened to the True Path.

Tue, Dec 11:            I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me. – John 10:14  The verse on the radio tonight is another one about sheep.  This time Jesus says He knows His sheep, and they know Him.  What does that mean?  Does Jesus talk to animals?  There are so many verses that imply a knowledge of or relationship with God.  God is too far away, too important, too capricious to know mankind.  Pray for the MNK as they come near the end of fast month to understand that God is not only knowable, but also desirous of a personal relationship with every human being. 

Wed, Dec 12:            I am the bread of life.  He who comes to me will never go hungry. – John 6:35  That is an easy verse for Christians; they never keep fast!  Fatou and Kadi are really tired after keeping fast for 26 days.  It will end soon…just a few more days.  It’s not so much not eating as it is not drinking any water all day.  But what does it mean, bread of life?  Is this why the strangers in town were giving away rice to those who would come to their meetings?  If we become Christians, does that mean someone will always give us rice?  There is a lot of confusion even in Africa about different Christian groups.  Some insist on speaking in tongues.  Some preach a prosperity Gospel saying God will bless materialistically if you become a Christian.  Pray for Fatou and Kadi and other MNK women (and men) not to be confused by these differences, but to seek God, and God alone.

Thu, Dec 13:            I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. – John 8:12  Whenever the full moon comes out, the children love to play and run and enjoy their “night-time day-time”.  Adults, too, walk about more confidently and less concerned about snakes and scorpions.  But tonight, the moon is waning; it is dark; and Kadi is concerned about her small son.  Then the words from the radio come to her and she is once again dismayed how Christians can follow Jesus when he said so many confusing, hidden things!  Pray that Kadi and other MNK women will understand that the Light is so much more than the sun or the moon.

Fri, Dec 14:            Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. – Matthew 7:13  The boys have been going to the Qu’ranic teacher ever since they were very small.  He teaches them many things, but they have never heard about any gates.  Then today they saw a piece of paper on the ground in the market that had a picture of a gate on it.  When they picked it up they hid it in their pocket until they could find an older boy from the high school who would read it for them.  He, of course, read it in English.  He thought it was an Islamic teaching because Islam teaches that many people will go down the wrong path.  Often Scripture is taken out of context or read only in part.  Pray that the boys will find the rest of the pamphlet that completes this teaching of Jesus.

Sat, Dec 15:            Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. – Matthew 7:14  On the way home last night, the boys went back through the market.  And they found another piece of paper that looked like the one they picked up earlier in the day.  Someone had taken this pamphlet and torn it up.  They couldn’t understand why.  Now they are anxious to ask their Qu’ranic teacher if they will be able to find the road that leads to life.  But they are taught NOT to ask him questions.  That is a sign of disrespect.  But perhaps they could ask one of the foreign teachers at the high school.  They are scared; they do not desire the rod.  Pray that the Holy Spirit will so burden MNKs that they will go against all of their teachings, all of their understandings, all of their relatives, all of their culture, to find the Truth and the narrow road.

Sun, Dec 16:            I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. – John 10:9  Muslims worldwide are celebrating the end of the holy month of Ramadan with great feasting and celebrating today.  In many places it is a two-day public holiday.  MNKs are tired at the end of Ramadan.  They have denied themselves food and water during daylight hours for a month.  Today they will have a prayer time, after which they will enjoy food and fellowship with their friends and neighbors.  They have spent the last month performing a required ritual that may or may not get them into heaven.  And what they remember and talk about the last month is how hard it was and how tired they are and whether or not they did it!  Pray that MNKs will understand the multiple ways Jesus tried to explain who He is through these (and other) analogies –I am the gate, the light of the world, the bread of life… 

Mon, Dec 17:            Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own. – Matthew 6:24  But Bakary IS worried.  Does this verse mean that he never has to be concerned about anything ever again?  That God will take care of everything?  Or that difficulties will just take care of themselves?  Bakary borrowed a lot of money for his Ramadan feast.  How is he going to repay it?  He’ll go ask his brother for the money; his brother works for that Toubob in town and he can always get money from him.  Pray for Bakary to see his responsibility for his own actions and debts.  Pray that he will come to see that God is our refuge and strength, and that He does care for us and provide for us, and that our greatest need, salvation, has already been provided by God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Tue, Dec 18:            We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows. – Isaiah 59:9  As Binta was coming home from the health center, she felt as if she was walking in deep shadows.  Dusk was coming; the baby on her back was crying; she was exhausted after waiting all day for the well-baby injections; she had a two-hour walk in front of her.  Why couldn’t she have been born a Toubob?  Why couldn’t she be rich?  Why couldn’t she have married a wealthy man?  Why couldn’t she have a car?  Why?  Why?  Why?  The darkness was becoming oppressive and she pondered what the foreign nurse said:  “Jesus is the light of the world.”  Pray for expatriate Christians as they go about their daily lives among the MNK, as teachers, as nurses, as neighbors, to find ways of sharing the truths of the Gospel succinctly. 

Wed, Dec 19:            God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. – 1 John 5:11  As Lamin ages, he thinks more and more about death.  Muslims have no assurance of life after death.  MNKs are taught that they can perform all of the 5 pillars required in Islam (pray five times a day, keep the fast month, give alms to the poor, recite the creed <There is one God, Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet.>, and make the pilgrimage to Mecca if financially able), and STILL God may decide to send them to hell when they die.  Or God may leave them out there in limbo somewhere until enough prayers are said on their behalf.  Or He may send them to hell for a time and then let them into heaven.  Pray for Lamin as he searches for the Truth; pray that he will hear and understand this verse, and believe that the gift of eternal life has been given already through God’s son, Jesus Christ.

Thu, Dec 20:            He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. – 1 John 5:12  As Christmas approaches, even in this Muslim land, there are radio broadcasts and church services and times when teachings about Christ abound.  Yet, the MNK are convinced that Mohammed, not Christ, is the way to “paradise”.  They do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God.  They do not believe that He alone is the way of life.  The MNK watch, the MNK listen, the MNK observe, but they do not open their hearts.  Pray for those around the world, including the MNK, to have open hearts and minds to the Truth; pray that God’s spirit will enable them to say, He who has the Son has life! 

Fri, Dec 21:    The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. – John 1:14  The Word.  This is another name that Christians use for Jesus.  So is Counselor.  So is Prince of Peace.  So is Wonderful.  Sometimes it seems to the boys at school that the foreign teachers are talking about more than one person; there are just too many names; how do they keep them straight?  Pray for the MNK, including the youth, to understand that the different names given to Jesus are simply descriptions of His character, and that Christians worship only One God, not three.

Sat, Dec 22:   Do not break your oath; simply let your “Yes” be “yes,” and your “No,” “No;” anything beyond this comes from the evil one. – Matthew 5:37  While Binta was in the market this morning she heard two women gossiping.  But in their speech, there was a lot of “swearing” to signify that each was telling the truth.  On her way home, she heard a man tell a shopkeeper that “if God agrees” he would pay for the bag of rice he was taking home today next week.  Many MNK believe that if they “swear” by the Holy Qu’ran or by Mohammed’s name or some other religious icon, they will not be held responsible for the lie or if they fail to follow through with a commitment.  Pray that Binta and other MNK women will be able to break this habit and learn to not only tell the truth, but to be faithful in all things.

Sun, Dec 23:            Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. – 1 Chronicles 16:11  One very attractive aspect of Islam is that it has prescribed ways of doing every part of your life:  marriage, death, naming ceremonies, prayers, fasting, etc.  To Bakary’s way of thinking, why would you leave something so comfortable and familiar to hold on to something more nebulous?  Christians don’t have a prescribed way to fast.  Christians don’t have a prescribed way to pray.  Christians don’t have a prescribed way to get married or to bury someone.  Yet, Bakary’s Toubob friend continually admonishes him to look to the Lord and his strengthPray for Bakary to truly look to the Lord; pray that he will seek the fellowship and relationship with God that is missing in his life over the apparent comfort and stability he sees in Islam.

Mon, Dec 24:            Jesus said:  All who draw the sword will die by the sword. – Matthew 26:52  Every afternoon, the men stop what they are doing and turn on their radios.  They listen to Focus on Africa, a program produced by the BBC.  They learn about life in other African nations; they hear about wars, outbreaks of diseases, etc.  They hear about sports across the continent, as well as brief world news updates.  But as with most news programs, rarely do they hear anything good!  But for the last 2 months, right after the MNK evening news, they have heard a brief reading from the MNK Bible.  It always catches their attention, because nothing from the Qu’ran is ever put into Mandinka.  Tonight they heard Jesus say that all who draw the sword will die by the sword.  Bakary contemplates this as he considers just how many African leaders have come to power through violent means.  Then he considers religions and religious wars.  Pray for Bakary and all MNK men to understand that while God is all-powerful, just, and righteous, He is also patient, loving, and forgiving, desiring that all should come to know Him. 

Tue, Dec 25:            Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. – Proverbs 3:5  Christmas Day!  MNK children have a tradition, as do their parents, of asking non-Muslims for their “Christmas”; in other words, they want a gift of some sort.  Lamin is listening to the radio and thinking about the time in his childhood when he was given an entire bag of candy at Christmas.  Then he heard that Christmas was the celebration of Jesus’ birth, and that Christians believe Jesus is the Son of God, born of a virgin.  It is impossible to be born of a virgin; and God did not have a wife.  These things are too hard and confusing to even think about.  Pray that Lamin and other MNK will learn to trust God and not confine Him or His actions to ways explainable by human beings.

Wed, Dec 26:            For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 6:23  Gifts!  MNKs know that this is the time of year that Toubabs give gifts.  In England, December 26 is called Boxing Day, another day to give gifts.  Unfortunately the MNK have yet to comprehend that the greatest gift of all is the gift of eternal life given by God Himself.  Bakary accepts that sin leads to death, but he doesn’t quite grasp the scope of that death:  eternal separation from God.  To one who lives and breathes and spends nearly every moment of his life with others, loneliness and separation are nearly incomprehensible.  Pray that Bakary will grasp the magnitude of God’s gift to mankind – eternal life – eternal fellowship with God – eternal peace!

Thu, Dec 27:  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. – John 14:27  There is a young MNK woman who has become a believer.  She lives with her husband in the village where she was born.  Her husband is also a believer, but from another tribe.  They were kicked out of their rental compound when they tried to have worship services in it.  They have tried to purchase their own compound, but no one will sell to them.  They are being ostracized from the community because of their faith.  All she wants is her own compound in which to raise her children and live out her faith.  Pray for this family to believe that God will provide all of their needs.  Pray for them to be at peace with whatever God does provide.  Pray that they will hear these words of Jesus and be completely at rest in His promises.

Fri, Dec 28:            He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth.  He was assigned a grave with the wicked though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. – Isaiah 53:7,9  Mohammed is known as a mighty warrior, one who fought for God, one who defended God, one who turned many (by the sword) to God from paganism.  This is respected and imitated by MNKs and other Muslims around the world.  But in Christianity there is no talk about Jesus’ victories in battle or his heroic deeds.  This is very confusing to Bakary’s children as they learn to respect and admire Mohammed, as well as ancient MNK warriors, who were ferocious in battle.  Pray that believers around the world will be able to share this verse of prophecy about Jesus from the ancient book of Isaiah.  Pray that MNKs will recognize the prophecies of the Old Testament fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ.

Sat, Dec 29:            Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. – Philippians 4:8  Kadi has been angry with Fatou all day.  She has thought about nothing else; it has colored everything she has said and done.  In her mid-day prayers she asked God to help her pay Fatou back for the insult laid on Kadi’s mother.  It is her responsibility to defend her mother’s name, and therefore her own name.  The agitation within her continues to grow.  Lunch was not well cooked because of her preoccupation with this matter.  Pray for Kadi to allow God the privilege of being God.  And pray that all MNKs will allow the Holy Spirit to fill their hearts and minds and thoughts, for when we are focused on the things of God, there is no room for Satan’s lies.

Sun, Dec 30:            I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will be any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. – Matthew 5:18  When Binta’s Toubob friend read this verse to her, she was completely surprised.  Everyone knows that the Bible has been altered, that it has been changed, that it is no longer complete and correct; that is why the Qu’ran was given to Mohammed.  She wonders how to tell her friend that she is going down the wrong path.  She doesn’t want to hurt her feelings.  Pray that Binta and her Toubob friend will have an honest enough relationship that Binta can express her thoughts.  Pray that workers among the MNK will have the insight and language skills to clearly express that the Word of God is unaltered.

Mon, Dec 31:            My word that goes out from my mouth will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. – Isaiah 55:11  It’s easy to create Roman script tracts in Mandinka.  It’s easy to create Arabic script tracts in Mandinka.  It’s easy to create English tracts.  It’s easy to purchase Arabic language or French language tracts.  But what is difficult is putting in place a plan to distribute Scripture among an illiterate, rural people group.  Pray for those of us working among the MNK to find creative ways of distributing God’s Word.  It speaks for itself and He Himself has promised that it will accomplish His work.  Pray that we will be diligent and faithful.

 

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