Catel was a very ordinary village in northwest Guinea-Bissau when Beryl Forrester first traveled there in 2005. It had about 500 residents, a few dozen mud brick buildings with thatch roofs, and scant economic activity aside from the cashew harvest. The village chief was Muslim, while the vast majority of villagers followed indigenous religions and numerous shamans. There were no known followers of Jesus in this unremarkable town, until Beryl started telling them about this person Jesus who had come to live among humanity and show us how God wants us to live.
Fast forward to today, and unlike the surrounding villages, Catel has doubled in size and shows signs of new life everywhere. The church, with its preschool and medical clinic, is the spiritual center of the village. Around 60 adults are part of the church, and at least twice as many children—nearly 200 people in all. Every family in town, regardless of their religious viewpoint, enrolls their children in the preschool and seeks medical care at the clinic.
The village chief professed faith in Jesus before he died last year, and four of his nine sons have also become believers. The town drunk—who used to abuse his family—is now a loving husband and father, pastor of the church, and director of the preschool. Several of the shamans have renounced their old practices to follow Jesus, including one who was baptized this Good Friday—alongside 18 other new believers. People from neighboring villages travel hours to attend the Sunday service, and the church has an active vision to send mission teams out to the surrounding areas.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)
To engage in pioneer mission work in a new location, one must have a vision for the joy that will be experienced as the Kingdom of God takes root. Without that vision, the personal suffering and sacrifice required is difficult to endure. For Beryl, this meant decades of dedication, long periods of loneliness, a simple diet, a minimalist home, dangerous travel, and poor medical care.
Building on the foundation Beryl had laid, Mike Baker (RI Director of Partner Development) and his family spent over three years living in Catel. For them, “suffering” meant living in a house with no running water, shower or toilet, no refrigerator or Internet; having just one solar panel to charge devices and power a few lights. It meant virtually no privacy, learning a new language, homeschooling their children, and adjusting their diet and their expectations of medical care.
Was the sacrifice worth it? You can ask Beryl (when you get to heaven) or the Baker family and I guarantee they will agree that it was worth the cost. And for this same reason, we unashamedly ask you to join RI in proclaiming the message of the gospel to places where the name of Jesus is not yet known.
Jesus to the world. The world to Jesus is RI’s vision statement because people like those in Catel—who never would have heard—are worth it. Jesus is worth it!
Vice President of Finance &
Associate Director of Global Missions
Touchstone donors are a small group of partners who are dedicated to missions and feel called to support RI in a significant manner. Touchstone members give an annual minimum of $2,500 to RI—and on average, two to three times more. They are a foundational element of our general fund and operating budget.
This group has shrunk over the last few years, and our vision is to grow its membership up to 100. If you know someone with a heart for the unreached, please invite them to join this remarkable family.
Whether you are a first-time Touchstone giver or have been giving for years, we thank you so much. We would not be able to do what we do without you.
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Rosedale International is a Section 501(c)(3) organization. Gifts to Rosedale International are deductible as charitable contributions for federal and state income tax purposes. With the accountability provided by the Rosedale Network of Churches and our board of directors, we seek to honor God with these gifts and use them with efficiency and wisdom.