Warmest hellos, dear family, friends and prayer partners!
I am hastily writing you from our hotel room with joyful reassurances and lots of really good news!
First off, David (Faouzi) and I are both safely out of Mali. We are together in a hotel, and en route to Palermo, Italy, where we will first attend the 2012 Global Initiative Palermo Conference (Ministry to Muslims), followed by a West Africa Strategic Planning meeting. (These meetings were planned long before the coup in Mali, and our tickets had already been bought, so here we are!)
Our colleague, Rick Caswell flies out today to join his family in Dakar, Senegal. (He stayed behind long enough to finish up moving out and storing all the family things.) Elaine Caswell, Keenan and Lydia, left ahead of him for Dakar, where the kids are finishing off their last 2 months of school at Dakar Academy before returning to the States for a full furlough. Rick hopes to join us in Palermo for our scheduled meetings.
We American AG missionaries left Mali with reassurances from our pastors who serve in the north (Timbuktu, Gao, etc.) that all the pastors and all their believers had safely fled to Dogon country or to Bamako where family and friends have taken them in. It was our joy to leave a substantial sum of (your) designated “RELIEF” monies to the Malian AG leadership for distribution among the displaced.
Except for the extensive daily electrical cuts (of 11 hours or more), Bamako is somewhat “back to business.” The sanctions imposed on Mali by the surrounding WAF countries have been lifted; the banks are functioning; and the borders are open for travel and commerce. Captain Sanogo has stepped down (with assurances of immunity), and the leader of Mali’s General Assembly, Mr. Dioncounda Traoré, has been placed as Interim President until elections can be scheduled. Mali will probably want to repossess its northern territories before setting up the infrastructure for nation-wide elections. As coups go, this one has been “virtually” bloodless.
Even as you rejoice with us for all the good news shared, would you please still keep us in your prayers?!? Please pray for us during this Palermo conference, that together we will find even more, new, untraditional and creative ways to reach Muslims, so that we may boast an even greater harvest among them in these dark days? And will you also pray that the Lord helps us to reexamine ourselves and reevaluate our ministry, our methods, and our partnership with our brothers of the Malian Assemblies of God?
After the Palermo conference, we will visit family in Lebanon, and I’ll take the time to see a doctor about some personal health issues. Afterwards, we will re-evaluate the situation in Mali to decide if it’s safe to return or not.
As ever, we need and are grateful for your prayers,
Linda and David (Faouzi) Arzouni