Besides our surgical help ("Heal with Steal" - as Dr. Gary calls it) we have other programs, too. Today I want to share about the Mercy Ministries, more specifically the Jesus Film team. Basically it's what the name suggests: a small team of crew members go out to town twice a week with a local pastor and some translators and set up a big screen to show the Jesus film in local languages. Last year in Sierra Leone by the end of the Field Service we were able to follow the conversation in Krio; 2 of my absolute highlights from the film: upon Mary becoming pregnant they said "Mary got belly" + Jesus being taken to Herod was translated to "he was taken to the Bad-Bad-King". :)
Sadly this time I didn't understand much, we showed it in Susu, one of the main tribal languages spoken in Conakry. What started to be a difficult set up turned out to be a great success. We had to swap cars before we left and had to reload all equipment into the new Land Rover. Darren was leading the team and driving our vehicle. We drove to the meeting point and waited for the pastor. While we sat there, a man came to us and started shouting "Merci, Mercy Ships, Merci Beacoup!" Good thing is we had Rob in the car who spoke French so we got the rest of the conversation. Long story short, he was walking home and saw our car from far away. he started cheering and running to us. Why is it so amazing? Because 2 weeks ago he was BLIND!!! Apparently he had a cataract surgery on board just recently and now he can walk alone anywhere and can see better with his eye then before! Not only that, but the boy whom he used as a guide is now free to go back to school! Awesome!!!
The pastor arrived on a motorbike. I was temped to ride with him, but there was no extra helmet for me. he was not used to lead a car I suppose; we often lost him as he could zigzag his way around in the Friday evening traffic. Eventually we arrived to the 'venue'. Basically it was a random street. He directed our vehicle to be parked in the middle of the road, effectively blocking any traffic. Before we could voice our concerns he whistled to some boys who dragged some rocks and branches from somewhere and blocked the other end of the street as well. Suddenly we had an entire street block for us!
During the set up many people gathered around us curious to see what's about to unfold there. Nightfall came fast and within a few minutes of set up we had to turn on the lights to see what we were doing. The guys put together the frame and hung the screen at the back of the vehicle. Darren worked on the generator and sound system. Soon everything was ready to begin. I noticed many faces sneaking out of the windows of the buildings around us - they wouldn't come down, but they were listening! :)
We had our local pastor as main lead, but also a few people from local churches who stopped the movie a couple of times to explain or challenge the ever growing audience. It was so neat to see people walking by, but then they stopped and watched how the life and death of Jesus unfolds. Several people watched it from behind! :) The film is over 2 hours long, which (for my western mindset) is probably too long, but for the locals who are so used to 3-4 hours long Sunday Services or nothing better to do on a Friday night... they found it perfect!
I took a few pictures in the dark with my small, point-n-shoot camera, which was hiding in my bag so people wouldn't notice. They are not very sharp because I didn't want to use flash. They are just here to show you the great atmosphere we had. When the film ended a man and a woman gave some final speeches and offered a challenge or further conversation for those interested (6 people were, yay!!!!!). We packed up our gear and drove back to the ship. The best part is: 30 min later the biggest thunderstorm I have seen here came down on Conakry! What a blessing that God held it at bay during our open air viewing!