MADAGASCAR 1997
 
ABOVE: The 1st (and to date one of the most challenging) outreaches undertaken by Philadelphia to Madagascar was in 1997. Here members of the 13-man team (which we soon discovered was much too large for Madagascar outreaches) board the plane from Antananarivo to Tamatave on the island's East Coast.
 
 
ABOVE: From Tamatave the team traveled northward by "bush taxi" to a little town where the road literally ends. Here Conrey (with guitar) leads the group in choruses while waiting for the boats to arrive to take us inland by river.
 
ABOVE: With rain pelting down, we start the slow journey upstream. Although the one boat (pictured here) was made of metal, both were power with poles which are stuck onto the bottom and then used to push the boat forward. The other boat was a traditional hollowed tree-trunk "lakan".
 
ABOVE: At these rapids, the team had to get out to make the boats lighter.
 
ABOVE: And of the boat phase, start of the hiking phase. Everyone looks quite cheerful, clearly not having an idea of the nightmare of miles and miles of steep slopes, mud, rice paddies, never-ending "nearly there" and slippery paths that lies ahead.
 
ABOVE: Manie, Gert and a local guide takes a breather. If it wasn't for volunteers from the villagers where we headed that came to fetch our equipment and luggage, some might still be walking now...
 
ABOVE: It just never ends ... Christa (right) slogs ahead with the aid of a local Samaritan and a walking stick.
 
ABOVE: So many rivers to cross, and still the rain comes down.
 
ABOVE: For the South Africans – our 1st time to experience this humbling local custom of the northern Betsirisikama. The villagers show their appreciation for the team's coming by washing our feet...
 
ABOVE: One of the beautiful villages where the team stayed and worked for a few days.
 
ABOVE: Not only were we the 1st "outsiders" ever to set foot in this village, but for almost all of them, it was the 1st time to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Here Gerhard and Buks (right) uses the flipcharts and audio cassette presentation to portray what Christ did for us and what it means.
 
ABOVE: Buks just seconds before he was nearly run over by the crowd when they discovered he was handing out gospel tracts.
 
ABOVE: Getting the crowd to settle before the evening's show of the Jesus-film. Again, for almost all these people it was their 1st time ever to see a film. The Jesus-film was shown on 5 occasions in different villages during the outreach.
 
ABOVE: Gert (in red sweater) was responsible for running the equipment. The people watch the film in absolute fascination.
 
ABOVE: When the film show is over, those who want to accept Christ as Lord are invited to stay behind. Here Victor (with microphone) again explains what it means to turn to Christ before he leads the group in a prayer of repentance.
 
ABOVE: A sad moment.. Halfway through the outreach, four of the South African team members had to be escorted back to Tamatave due to the fact that they were physically exhausted while the way ahead was going to get worse before it got better.
 
ABOVE: For the rest, is was deeper into the seemingly never-ending green mountains while the rain came down relentlessly.
 
ABOVE: After a very difficult walk of about 30km over extremely rough terrain, we arrived at our destination where we met this group of people. They had walked through the mountains from their own village for 5 DAYS when they heard there was going to be people explaining the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We realized how small our sacrifice was ...
 
ABOVE: Enjoying a well-deserved meal of rice, RICE and rice water to help pump up the reserves again. FLTR is Victor, Manie, Christa and Gerhard.
 
ABOV E: Another presentation with the audio-cassettes and flipcharts. Berthin, who also became a tested, highly respected and beloved brother and co-worker, is holding the flipchart.
 
ABOVE: The Malagasy Gospel-tracts were very popular everywhere.
 
ABOVE: When rain made it impossible to show the film outside, the Lord provided this little bamboo and timber "school hall".
 
ABOVE: Buks (right) hands over some tracts and Malagasy bibles to Jean who is going to stay behind and help with the discipling of new believers for a while.
 
ABOVE: The survivors with a final river to cross with the end in sight. On the other side is the little village where the road starts and from where we would get a lift with one of the small trucks that hauls bananas and other local produce to the market in Tamatave. FLTR is Buks, Manie, Gert, Christa, Gerhard and Maritsa.
 
ABOVE: After the outreach, this group of current and future leaders for the churches in the area received basic training for Christian leadership. Leadership remains the biggest challenge for future growth of the Church in Madagascar (and the rest of Africa, for that matter!).
 


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