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We closed our last prayer letter by saying, “Though we have not yet seen the eternal fruit from these outreaches, we are confident that God is at work. As we continue to sow the seeds of the Gospel, we are sure that God will soon bring the harvest.” When we wrote our last update, we were sure God would bring the harvest, but we had no idea how soon and how wonderful it would be. God has surely been at work here and we want to give Him all the glory.
At the time of our last update, we were on the brink of starting a new church. Now, two months later, our church has been meeting weekly and God has been working in extraordinary ways. We have seen souls saved, many make commitments to attend and others taking steps of Christian growth…all during a pandemic!
Soon after the food distribution ministry in May, we decided to launch the church. God had already assembled our team which included another missionary couple, a Malagasy Pastor and his family, and, of course, our family. Feeling led of the Lord to launch the church, we had our first Sunday on May 10th. Praise the Lord, 16 people were in attendance (15 of those were our team!). By the second week, 20 people were in attendance. God was at work and we were excited!
After our second week of meeting, we had a problem — we had already outgrown our first building! Of course, this was mostly due to Coronavirus restrictions which required one meter between all attendees. Praying for direction and leading, God led us to another private school just down the road from the first one. This school was ideal. It included many larger classrooms and a large activity building with open space for the church!
We moved the church to the new facility and invited the people to come. We praise the Lord that our first Sunday in the new building was full with almost 40 people. By the next Sunday, we added more. At this point, we had a new problem. Because of COVID-19, we were only allowed to meet in groups of 50 or less. Of course, everyone had to be socially distanced and masks were mandatory! We spoke with some friends about the situation and discovered that the law mentioned that only 50 people or less could be in just one building. We decided to split the adults and children into two separate buildings which doubled our attendance possibilities.
By the last Sunday in June, we had over 80 people in attendance. After the service, Pastor Ernest, our national friend, approached Dan and said, “We may need to stop inviting people so we don’t go over 100!” As we considered this, someone remarked that this was the first time in the history of the church that that a pastor said we should stop inviting people to church! It was a sad reality due to the unprecedented circumstances!
Before we could reach this dilemma, however, we received news that cases of COVID-19 were spiking in Madagascar and that the government had decided to suspend all public meetings once again. Naturally, we were frustrated to hear this! However, because of what God had already done through the first quarantine period and the way He worked through all of the impossibilities, we are excited to see how God is going to use this second quarantine period to build His church. Already, we have been able to make personal visits to many of the families who have been attending which has been a helpful time in building relationships and getting to know more about their spiritual needs. Also, since we are unable to preach in church, our team has decided to get on the local radio and start broadcasting our message. Our first 30 minute segment aired this last Sunday morning (July 19)!
As we close another prayer letter, we want to thank you for your continual prayers for us and for the ministry. God has certainly been at work. Please continue to pray that God would use this next quarantine period to strengthen His church and point more people to Him. Pray that God blesses our weekly broadcast. And finally, please pray that God would continue to watch over us and help us during these exciting times.
The Browns to Madagascar
“That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations. Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee.” ~Psalm 67:2-3