To download a printable PDF of this prayer letter, please click HERE.
Almost exactly two hundred years ago, in a remote and very distant part of the world, a humble and unassuming man stepped foot for the first time onto Malagasy soil. Having no idea that his future included the painful loss of his wife and dear friends as well as a brutal betrayal and attempted assassination by some agitated businessmen, he pressed forward for the cause of Christ in hopes of bringing a lost country to the Savior. This man was David Jones, the first missionary to Madagascar.
After enduring inimaginable hardships in his early ministry, David, undeterred in his faith and resolved in his purpose, pressed evermore forward in his task. But how could he effectively reach this island with the truth of the Bible when there was no Bible or even an infrastructure of a written language to help produce a Bible? For him, the only way forward was by taking one step at a time. After working closely with the king to establish an alphabet, he carefully transcribed the language into written form and developed the first grammars and dictionaries in the language. Soon after, he began working hand in hand with missionary David Griffiths, a new arrival, in order to translate the first Bible in Malagasy.
Yet, when the work of the Lord is on the advance, the devil is never far behind. The untimely and unusual death of the king, a friend to the missionaries, brought the rise of the public opposition of the queen. Within a few short years, Christianity was outlawed and the missionaries were forbidden to preach the Gospel. With numbered days, David Jones and David Griffiths gave themselves wholeheartedly to finishing the Bible. Before long, they were banned from the island, but not before the first completed portion of the Word of God in this language could be printed from the rickety press in Madagascar.
In May of 2014, Rachael and I were able to take our survey trip and see Madagascar for the first time. We were able to sit down with veteran missionaries and discuss with them the need of reaching Madagascar with the Gospel. However, one of the most impressionable moments of our trip was when we learned that this older and more trustworthy version of the Bible is highly difficult to find, and that, in its place, there is a newer version that is more current but not nearly as accurate.
As we returned to the United States and began our preparations for serving in Madagascar, we could not escape Madagascar’s need for the complete and accurate Word of God. We, in essence, set out on a quest to find a copy of the original Malagasy Bible in hopes of seeing it updated and eventually printed. After months without success, the Lord led us to the New York Public Library where a physical copy of an original Malagasy Bible is kept. After speaking with a member of the personnel and asking to see the Bible, we were informed that this was not possible without special permission to access the archaic books. Thinking we had reached another roadblock, we turned to leave when the man stopped us and informed us that the entire Bible is available in digital format and could be downloaded at any time! As quickly as possible, we logged onto the network and downloaded the file all the while praising God. The words of the prophet Jeremiah rang out in our minds, “Thy words were found…”
While still on deputation, we were sharing this story in one of our supporting churches, when, after the service, an individual approached us with a desire to help publish God’s Word in Madagascar. She donated a large sum of money to help accomplish this purpose. We are happy to inform you that after several months of work on preparing a copy of John and Romans with a presentation of the Gospel, we will be able ship 15,000 copies to Madagascar. Our hope is that this is just the beginning of getting the complete Word of God to the Malagasy.
In closing, we are excited to be now just one month away from leaving for Madagascar. Lord willing, we will arrive there on April 12th. We would certainly appreciate your prayers as we await our visas, finalize the details for shipping our container, and finish our time at language school. As we so often say, all this would not be possible without your faithful prayers and support. We pray that God would richly bless you for your sacrifice and commitment to honor Him and reach the lost for Christ.
Your Missionaries to Madagascar
Dan & Rachael Brown
Moriah, Hannah & Chloe