Mali: Uncertainty Prevails, Alliance Team Decides Next Steps

By Al Stombaugh, field director for The Alliance in Mali, currently in Dakar, Senegal

Having spent last weekend at a retreat in Burkina Faso with many on the Mali team, Al reported on Thursday (April 19): “It was so good to connect with all who could be there. [Our time] was spent worshipping and praying together, hearing from God’s Word, and sharing our stories.” Here is an adapted excerpt from his recent report, which follows in the wake of last month’s coup that forced most of our international workers in Mali to evacuate.

This update is to let you know about some of the decisions that have been made during the past few days. Let me begin with some thoughts about the situation in Mali right now.

Northern Mali under Rebel Control

Recently, I have been in contact with our Alliance church president and several others in Mali. There is still a lot of uncertainty about the future of the government as well as the situation in the north.

It seems that the junta is still not willing to release full control to a civilian government. Last weekend, a number of political and military figures were arrested by the junta. In the north, rebel forces are consolidating their control; it seems that it will be a while before the government will take action to regain control of the north. 

Some Normalcy

Electric power cuts are still frequent and prolonged in the country, although it is not clear if this is related to the political situation. Land borders and the airport remain open for travel. Other than power issues, daily life is fairly normal in Bamako and other towns.

We have decided to allow some Alliance team members to continue working in Koutiala to maintain the hospital ministries. At this point, the families with children are not returning to Koutiala and will complete the school year outside of the country.

Team Options Weighed

We have applied several guiding principles in working through the best options for each of our staff members:

  • First, International Ministries (IM) leadership will never allow our workers to return to a situation that would knowingly put their lives in danger. The C&MA’s first concern is the safety of our team and the needs of individuals and families.
  • Second, IM’s position is that individuals and families must be convinced that God is the one calling them to make the choice to return or not to return to Mali. We want to honor each person’s/family’s decision, and we do not judge anyone’s choice as being more “spiritual” or “courageous.” Often the most spiritual or courageous thing to do is to recognize and attend to one’s own needs and those of one’s family.
  • Third, we want to do all we can to communicate with the national church in Mali about our decisions and to consider the impact of those decisions on them and on our ministries.
  • Finally, in every decision, we want to exercise the best financial stewardship possible in applying the funds donated to evacuate our workers.

Please pray for our Mali team—that the Lord will make His presence known to each one in unusual ways during this time and that each will know His peace and leading in the days ahead.

Also, continue to pray for:

  • Peace in Mali;
  • The suffering of so many, especially of those in the north where we have heard reports of killings and rapes by rebel soldiers;
  • Peace of mind for international workers called to Mali who are in a wait-and-see mode about next steps in their ministries;
  • A special anointing and portion of divine health, energy, and grace for those in Koutiala who are keeping the hospital running.

Pray also for Alliance church partners in Mali to stand strong in showing Christ’s love during this unstable time,” requests Bob Fetherlin, vice president for Alliance International Ministries. “Pray that—no matter what happens—the door for sharing the good news remains open in Mali.”

What You Can Do

Funds are needed to cover the costs of moving U.S. Alliance staff in Mali to neighboring countries during this time of uncertainty. Expenses include travel costs, temporary housing, and travel and communication within Mali to make all the needed arrangements for our personnel. Please make a donation today.

For more articles about Alliance ministry in Mali, see the March 2012 issue of alife.

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