The Madagascar team this year was a delightful mix of people: a father/daughter, two single men in Finance, and two families. Each one, young and old, contributed in a unique way to this trip, which was hosted for the sixth year by Tana City Centre Church.
The week started off with a combined church service. Three churches came together for a combined service and daylong festival in a park. The service included prayers in several languages (7 to be exact, with at least 10 nationalities represented within the church) and a local professional gospel choir. The congregants of each church wore traditional clothing and Redeemer Downtown pastor Michael Smith delivered the message. Afterward, the attendees enjoyed a potluck lunch, followed by games and activities for the kids, such as fun in bouncy castles. It was a wonderful start to a week of jam-packed events!
Throughout the week, the team hosted seminars with such topics as Marriage, Entrepreneurship, and Faith and Work, as well as an Arts event and a women’s conference. Each was targeted at assisting and engaging within the diverse ministries for this very active church, where Pastor Tanteraka,“Tank” for short, and his congregants meet myriad needs within the community.
The team also worked at a special “Street Family” event held every Friday at Tana City Centre Church. The team set up more bouncy castles, offered costumed characters, and provided lunch for 100 street kids at a park earlier in the week. Michael Smith was able to spend time talking with and encouraging local pastors at a special lunch, while other team members spent a day serving at a local orphanage.
Wrapping up the week, the teammates hosted a “prom” for children with disabilities in partnership with a local non-profit organization called Growing the Nations. Local children were fitted with outfits donated from friends/family in the US and brought over by our team, and they were treated to full hair and makeup sessions and taught how to “walk the runway.” Then they strutted their stuff on a platform resembling a modeling runway specially made for the event at the church. Friends and family were invited, and after the children made their modeling debut, they enjoyed a buffet dinner. This was a great way to show those children who are often seen as “burdens” that they are loved and beautiful. And a phenomenal reminder for all the rest of 1 Samuel 16:7 — that God looks not at outward appearances but looks on the heart.
The team spent much time with our host, Pastor Tanteraka “Tank,” and with the congregants of Tana City Centre Church. They also enjoyed spending time with others in the community, as well as the Growing the Nations organization and its staff. Many friendships began, and many more that had begun over the past six years of serving were strengthened. With the Lord’s help, our committed team will make every effort to maintain these special relationships throughout the year, and we look forward to future opportunities to visit and serve this amazing community.
“The Redeemer teams serve us so well! Each year they do a great job in providing a holistic ministry (from word ministry to social ministry). And each year it gets better and better — we love the Redeemer teams!”
— Pastor Tanteraka