17 Days in Africa

  Monthly Report: April 2005 Click for PDF
 

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 by Shira Sorko-Ram

When our Air France plane opened its doors, we stepped out into the West African country of Burkina Faso, just over the edge of the Sahara Desert It was night, hot and dry. Within an hour we were on the crowded roads of its capital, Ouagadougou, full of bicycles and mopeds driven by men and women with a great variety of colorful dress patterns and head scarves. But nothing could hide the poverty.

In the city only a few main roads are paved. Maybe a quarter of the people of Ouagadougou have electricity and running water. Often having electricity means possessing one small florescent light placed either just inside or just outside the front door.

Amidst such extreme poverty, there is something about Burkina Faso that catches you. There is a gentleness of spirit upon the people. The nation is not experiencing the violence and tension that is current in so many African states. Moreover, according to Charisma Magazine, this nation of 13,500,000 souls is experiencing the third fastest growth in church-planting in the world.

Ram Zango, our host, attended Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas, Texas, and there learned to love the people of Israel through the teachings of the Bible. He discovered the promise that those who bless Israel will be blessed. And so he went back to his native country and began to preach that loving Israel is God's will and brings with it great blessing.

We have written before in the Maoz Israel Report (March 2002 at www.maozisrael.org under archives) how Pastor Seogo Jean in the town of Kingria gathered up the grand total of $7.00 and gave it to Ram to mail to Israel. Ram borrowed money from the bank to mail the gift. From that time on, the Christians began to prosper in Kingria, both in a harvest of souls and with their crops, and word began to spread. Ram continued to travel to different congregations telling how God has commanded the born-again Gentiles to love, pray for and financially bless Israel.

Over the last few years, Ram has brought to Israel thousands of dollars from the Christians of Burkina Faso. Their gifts have moved our Tel Aviv congregation and our Maoz staff in Israel to tears. So Ari and I decided that we must make a visit to Burkina Faso and bless these incredible Christians by encouraging them with the Word of the Lord concerning Israel and God's plan for revival for their own land, for Africa and for the whole world. Below are excerpts from my journal.
We begin our journey south through the bush or “savannah” in Ram's pickup truck. (All of Burkina is bush country.) After about an hour, we leave the paved highway and rock along on the corrugated road (tiny grooved waves of hardened clay which cause everything to shake, rattle and roll) for another two hours. At 11:00 a.m. we finally arrive at a sort of central village called Gombousgou, serving 33 smaller villages. Various pastors and many hundreds of Christians (how can you count them?) have come from miles around. Some have walked 12-15 miles in the heat. They have been singing and worshiping for three hours until we arrive. The musical instruments these born-again Christians have are two drums made from a wooden box with animal skin pulled over one side; these drums dominate the worship. Man, can these people sing! And man, can these drummers beat out the rhythm! The music is joyful and beautiful - they seem to use five notes with the leader singing a line which is then repeated by the audience.
Ari speaks for a couple of hours as Ram translates into the Morey language and another brother back in the audience translates into Biza, another tribal tongue, at the same time that Ari is speaking in English.
When we break for lunch, we are taken into town about 10 minutes away. The pastor of the local congregation has stayed home to cook rice and chicken for us. He places some chairs under a straw-covered lean-to, and serves us. The heat is unbearable. The dog and the chickens in the tiny bare courtyard paw at the ground and turn up cooler dirt on which to lie. There is no electricity and no running water. We get our first view of a bush bathroom - a simple hole in the ground.
The people are gracious and so utterly excited to see Israelis - Jews - for the first time in their lives. We go back in the afternoon to continue teaching. It is stifling hot. And the 800 - 1000 bodies or so inside the building add many degrees to the temperature.
We take another break and are driven through the bush until suddenly we come upon an isolated lake that extends for 50 miles. It has been created, of course, by the government which built a dam on one of their rivers. But there are no roads to and from the lake - at least certainly not where we are. There is almost unlimited land surrounding the lake, fertile but unused, non-irrigated. Pastor Abraham says his dream is to create an irrigation project to farm the land, giving many Christians a livelihood and a possibility to pull out of their poverty syndrome. He, as did other pastors, tells us that the government will give them as much free land as they want if they will grow crops on it.
They explained to us Burkina's dilemma. If there is no drought, the rainy season begins in May or June and usually ends in August or September. This is when they plant and harvest their crops - such as cotton and wheat, and also some vegetables. However, during those months the unpaved roads become impassible so most farmers cannot send any of their fresh produce to market! The cotton they can store until the dry season comes - and then over a period of time trucks or wagons laboriously carry it to the markets where it is purchased and sent abroad to make into cloth. Burkina Faso has virtually no clothing industry, although cotton is their number one crop.
The pastor ask us, as believers from Israel, to pray with them that God would make a way for their dream of irrigating crops from this water to come to pass. We pray fervently with them for this miracle to happen. Basically, what they need to get started is a water pump.
Now we are back for the evening meeting and it is dark. A solitary small florescent light from Ram's portable generator shines near the pulpit - giving us enough light to continue. We preach into the darkness of the large hall. We talk about the God of Israel who keeps His promises forever with the Jewish people, and therefore we know that he will keep His promises to all those from the nations who are also children of Abraham through Messiah Yeshua.
We tell them what they already know: That the Bible says those who bless Israel will be blessed. They believe it and they rejoice. At the end of each sermon, the pastor leads the people in an extended time of prayer for different aspects of Israel. And they pray loudly, fervently, with all their hearts and bodies.
After speaking until about 10:00 p.m. we are taken another hour away to the closest "hotel". We won't describe it.
The next morning there is a major sand storm which seem to come every two to three days. Visibility is about half a mile and everything is a dusty orange-brown. Between the two of us, we preach morning, afternoon and night about the Bible, the God of Israel and Israel. Since the hall where we are gathered is open to the elements all the way around, both at the top and the bottom, we taste the sand as we speak. Our Bibles are filled with sand. Our hands and feet (I am wearing flip flops as are most of the people) are covered in sand and dirt. For the first time in my life I understand why people washed the feet of their guests in Yeshua's day. This was no mere ceremony. It was and is an absolute necessity! As we walk around in the dust all day, nothing seems more luxurious than looking forward to the first opportunity to wash our hands and feet.
We finish preaching at about 9:00 p.m. A lady brings us chicken as a gift and a man brings a turkey. We go back over the rip-roaring clay roads in the sand storm at about 80 kilometers an hour, regularly missing trucks and carts creeping along or parked on the road for the night.
Back in Ouaga-dougou, it is now Sunday and we both speak in separate churches. The people are fantastic - attentive and want us to preach "as long as we can!" A preacher's paradise! The only problem for me is that three minutes into my sermon I and my clothes are drenched through and through. The pastors always have bottled water for us, but I long for just one electric fan!
THE VERY FIRST BURKINA CHURCH TO GIVE TO ISRAEL

On Monday we head north for our second conference which is scheduled to be for one day only. Our two-hour trip will take us to Kingria, where Pastor Seogo Jean's congregation had given the first $7.00 to be sent to Israel back in the mid 90's. When we arrive at 11:00 a.m. we find many hundreds of believers who have come on foot from churches all around the area. Again, we speak of God's purposes to bring the message of salvation to the entire world, while Satan's plan is destroy the human race. We tell them that as they pray for Israel's salvation God will in turn pour out His Spirit on them. We encourage them to continue to rise up in faith and ask God to show them how to take hold of God’s promises of physical and spiritual blessing so they can reach their nation for God.

As the last service ends at 9:00 p.m. Ram says that Seogo has something to give us. He and the churches in the area had been collecting offerings for a long time in anticipation of our coming. They hand Ari an envelop. My immediate thought is that we have come to Burkina Faso to bless them as these poverty-stricken people have already given so much to Israel. We certainly had no thought of taking more offerings from them. But they so graciously and passionately give us their gift, we know that we cannot do anything but receive it from them and bring it back to Israel to help our Israeli people find eternal life.

We plow back over the ridges and grooves of the wash-board roads and three hours later arrive in Ouagadougou. When we count the offering, there is $2,574.00 from the Christians of that area. Several days later, Ram adds to that amount gifts from Christians of other areas - another $5,000.00!

Ari had to return to Israel, but I am staying another week. The next morning, Pastor Moses who had founded the congregation where our next conference is, asks me to come to see his new work which he has started in the nearby city of Leo. He has a school inside his little church for the children of the believers. I see perhaps 50 children being taught in the French language and I admonish them to study hard and learn to read and write so they can preach and teach the Gospel and win their people to Yeshua. On the blackboard, Moses has posted the vision he has for his congregation. He shows me the congregation’s three offering baskets; from right to left, 1. for tithes, 2. for offerings and 3. for Israel. Moses now has 100 new converts but is specifically asking God for 3000 souls in his city. He wants his visitor from Israel to agree with him, and together we pray that God will give him the passion of his heart.

When we arrive back in late morning to the conference, Ram has already been preaching since 8:00a.m. I preach another five hours throughout the day and the evening. At the end, the pastor requests that I bless the children. (At the end of each conference we prayed over the people that the blessing of Abraham through our Messiah Yeshua would rest on them.) Though drenched and tired, for the next thirty minutes I lay hands on at least 300 mothers with their babes tied on their back. I pray for all the children and when some of the adults get in line (against the pastor's pleas) I pray for them too.

I think to myself how really similar these people are to those whom Yeshua himself ministered. In Yeshua's day there was no electricity or running water. Most of the people were dirt poor. And most of them were farmers. When we preached to the Burkinabe Christians the blessings that God promised to Israel in Deuteronomy 28, they fit no one better than these precious Burkinabe children of Abraham (Gal. 3:29).

Blessed shall be the offspring of your body and the produce of your ground and the offspring of your beasts, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket… (Deut. 28:4)

These believers are, as were our forefathers in the Bible, spiritually and mentally alert and have deep understanding of God’s Word. The pastors tell us that whether or not their members read or write, when they hear the Word, it goes deep into their hearts and memories.

I am given African materials for a dress, bottles of peanuts, and even a goat - all of which are sold and the money given us to take to Israel.

I speak at a women’s conference sponsored by Pastor Gilbert Kabore, and later to another group of pastors and leaders who love Israel. Just before I leave, Pastor Gilbert asks to see me. I go again to his church, and there, as president of the Burkina Faso Christian Friends of Israel, he gives me an envelop of money with more than $7,000 gathered from many different churches. I have to say, this is the hardest offering I have ever had to accept, knowing the deep poverty of the people who gave it. It is clear to Ari and me that spending this money is a very grave responsibility. These people have entrusted us to use their offerings wisely - to evangelize and raise up disciples in Israel.

After prayer, we believe the best use of this money would be to fulfill a dream which we have talked about many times: to produce an audio New Testament on CD in the Hebrew language. In our congregation we have a very anointed evangelist, Shlomi Nachum, who makes the Bible come alive when he reads it. This is a major in-house project that will take at least six months and will cost approximately $55,000 - including recording, editing, “mastering” and packaging. (The cost would be double or triple if we outsourced the production.) We have been considering this project for some time, as we have recognized how terrific a tool it would be to reach and disciple Israelis - especially the young - in this age of C.D.'s and audio players. There have been many requests for such a project.
The first $15,853 of this project will be from the Burkinabe Christians! May God return to them multiplied blessings - in this world, and the world to come - for their incredible sacrifical gift.
Israel’s Messenger to Africa
 
There is no doubt that Ram Zango has an apostolic calling on his life as he spreads the message of “blessing Israel will bring blessing to Burkina Faso,” throughout his country. In the last few years he has seen the pastors of his country uniting in a way that a few years ago would have been unthinkable. Ram has a burning passion to see revival in Israel and revival in Africa. He has begun to receive invitations from other surrounding nations that have heard how God is blessing Burkinabe Christians that love Israel with more rain and crops. For example, while we were yet in Burkina, Ram was off to neighboring Chad to speak at a large gathering of pastors there. A university graduate and former school teacher, Ram is definitely a mover and a shaker and is well received everywhere we went. Living in humble accomodations, he channels his resources into the Gospel. He is surely a key person to accelerate and encourage both spiritual and physical prosperity among his people.
Pictures: top: ram zango with his wife, francis, and their children. right: working in his ouagadougou office for burkina faso and for Israel.
April 2005

Dear Maoz Partner,

Our trip to Burkina Faso revealed to us personally how much God loves Africa. The depths of poverty (average $83. buying power per month) is unspeakable, but we also saw so much potential on every side! God has plans to raise the Christians of Burkina out of their impotency!
Their offerings overwhelmed us, knowing their poverty, but also gave us great confidence that God is about to do something spectacular in this nation.
Because of their gifts to Israel, we have already begun production of the New Testament on CD in the Hebrew language. This six-month project, when finished, will bless the Jewish believers (and non-believers) throughout the entire nation of Israel.
The total production cost to produce the New Testament on CD in Hebrew will be $60,000. The Burkinabe people have given more than a quarter of the cost of this production! When we called Ram Zango to tell him of our decision to use the Burkina funds for recording the New Testament in Hebrew, we could hear him shouting for joy over the phone. He couldn’t wait to let all the pastors know so they could rejoice too!
We invite you to bless Israel through your gifts by completing this project. Any extra funds received that are designated for the Hebrew New Testament will go towards producing the finished CD's!

But there is more to what we believe God wants us to do in Burkina Faso. We never knew that all of the some 20 African countries that France once colonized are among the poorest in the world. While the English colonizers drained resources from the nations they occupied, they did invest in their infrastructure - such as building roads and railroads, etc. The French did nothing but empty Africa of its resources and then leave.

But today is a day of new beginnings. We do not want to do as the French government did - just take without blessing Burkina in a substantial way. We saw how much the Christians desire to rise out of their circumstances. They are studying the Word of God. They know how to pray. They know how to give out of their poverty.
God clearly and in numerous occasions told the ancient Israelites that His intentions were to prosper them. Since the Bible teaches us that all the promises of God are yes in Him, we as His Body want to help Pastor Seogo and Pastor Abraham each buy a water pump so they can irrigate crops throughout the dry season.
Ram Zango believes that helping these pastors with water pumps could cause an economic revolution among the believers of Burkina by giving them a way to utilize the one national asset they have - great expanses of fertile, unused, free land.
Today, the spirit of Islam is hard at work to conquer Africa. Arab dictators, such as Libya's Colonel Muammar Gaddafi are spending many millions every year to build mosques (see pictures at right) and other high profile institutions such as banks in Burkina. (see fourth picture down)
The only power on earth that can stop Islam in Africa is the power of the Holy Spirit working through His people. We believe that if we give Burkinabe Christians the tools, they they will use them to the maximum to spread the Gospel of the Saving Grace of Israel's God and Messiah to their nation.
A water pump we priced in Burkina costs approximately $20,000. (We are checking the prices of other companies.) But be assured that whatever your gift may be which you designate for water pumps for Pastors Seogo and Abraham - will go 100% towards that purchase. We will of course keep you updated on this project.
And so we present you with two opportunities: to bless Israel with the Word of God in Hebrew on CD, and to bless Burkina Faso with tools to enable the Christians there to have enough food to eat, thereby making it possible for them to do so much more in reaching their nation with the Gospel.
Whether you choose to give for the Hebrew New Testament on CD or for water pumps for Burkinabe Christians who love Israel, you are helping to bring Salvation to those for whom our Messiah died - that they might have life and have it more abundantly.
That our Messiah might return,
Ari & Shira Sorko-Ram
 

 

 

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