“A Story of Hope” — December 2016 Newsletter
Dear friends, family and partners,
It’s been too long since Sol and I were able to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with our families here in the states, we don’t really remember – maybe 12 years or so. This year, we have the joy and privilege of being here and we are enjoying every minute of it already!
As I take every day in, I can’t help but constantly compare how different everything is from Gambia. But one thing that remains the same, no matter where we are, is the fact that Christmas is a time of celebration for the hope our Savior brought to us when he entered the world.
Hope–what a powerful word, yet there are so many people living hopeless lives. I think of the many times and situations where we have had the opportunity to bring hope to people in Gambia. My heart warms with the memories and we thank God for allowing us this privilege.
Mari’s Story of Hope
One person’s story that is still unfolding before our eyes is Mari’s story, the little 2 year-old girl that God brought our way in April of 2004 during one of our visits. Mari was so small and frail, she looked barely a year old; she had a big belly and reddish hair from malnutrition. She followed the older children around the school property during the time a construction team was building the first building. I still remember picking her up and how weightless her body felt. I’ll never forget the way she grabbed the piece of bread I gave her and how she ate it while looking for more. We started bringing her food every day. Her mother was about 15 years old when Mari was born and she didn’t have a job or a way to provide for her baby. She was uneducated, could not speak English, her front teeth were missing and to survive she washed laundry for people from house to house but was not making enough to properly feed herself and her child. Education was not part of Mari’s future… What a hopeless situation.
That year, before we left, we began taking care of Mari’s medical needs and providing food for her family. When she turned 3 years old, she was enrolled in the school and we watched her as she grew into a beautiful and amazing young girl. Today, Mari is in 9th grade and she is a resilient student. Still shy and reserved at times, but when she prays, she forgets to be shy! God’s hand is on her life and we are so excited to watch and see what He will do with her in the future.
Whenever I have a bad day at the school, I go look for Mari. I watch her and see how she is involved in the class; she is reading, understanding, and speaking English, and then, I think of her mother who didn’t have the opportunity Mari has, and I’m filled with joy and hope for Mari’s young life. Once she finishes grade 9, because of your gifts,we will be able to continue to provide for her education, even beyond EMC, to ensure that she gets every opportunity to finish her education and to have a bright future.
Mari‘s story is a story of hope, a story that is still unfolding. She has hope for a better life and future, not just from an economic standpoint, but most important, from a spiritual perspective she will have an opportunity for a different future. To see her life being transformed in such an amazing way, gives us hope for the rest of our children. Imagine that same kind of transformation taking place in all 350 of our students since they are being given the same opportunity. This opportunity for each student is made possible by your generosity! Just imagine each of their lives 8-10 years from now, when some of the students will come back and work in the school to educate the next generation, and some will be in leadership positions in the government, hospitals and other institutions. Imagine with me their future, because of the Hope that Christ has brought into their lives.
Please pray for the children’s lives
As we continue to sow seeds of God’s love into the children’s lives, please pray for them, that God will do what only He can do by the power of the Holy Spirit–to give them a new life in Him and through Him!
I’m reminded of God’s promises for His people in Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” The same promises are for our children in Gambia; God wants to prosper them and give them hope and a future.
Thank you for being a part of bringing HOPE to a hopeless nation and people. Thank you for being a part of God’s plan to fulfill His promises to His children. Thank you for giving, praying, and encouraging us with words and by your actions. We couldn’t do what we do without you!
This season, while we are here, we look forward to seeing the Christmas lights, listening to the Christmas music, and enjoying the Christmas programs and celebrations of our Lord and Savior. Most of all, we enjoy being with family and spending time with friends; making memories that we treasure and that will strengthen us in the years to come, during those times when we will be far from family and friends and with our Gambian families.
Let HOPE arise in your hearts above all else, as you celebrate our Savior!
Merry Christmas to you and your family!
In His Love, Sol and Manuela Bah