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Two Baptisms and a Wedding

Brothers and sisters in Gambia

Michael and Brenda Green (Newquay), Martyn Evans (Newquay) and Ray Bilton (Rochdale)

We had looked forward to this visit for some time as a number of requests for interview prior to baptism had been received; a Bible School had been arranged; and there was also the prospect of a wedding.

As is usual for our visits, we barely had time to leave our luggage at our hotel before visiting the ecclesial centre at Latri Kunda Sabiji. Here we discovered that in addition to local members, a good number of brothers & sisters from Farafenni had arrived for the Bible School. After introductions all round, and in the company of 23 Gambian brothers & sisters, we began the first session of our busy weekend. Our study was to harmonise the Gospel records to see the more complete picture of the sacrifice of The Lord Jesus, from betrayal and Passover remembrance to his appearances after the Resurrection.

The Bible School was a great success and, God willing, will be repeated as an annual event in the Gambian calendar. 
After the afternoon sessions on Saturday we enjoyed a more relaxed "drama" presented by the Latri Kunda brothers & sisters. This was an African version of 'The Prodigal Son', complete with their own ending when the elder brother accepted his father's exhortation and embraced his younger brother, thus restoring family unity.

During our visit we were privileged to witness two confessions of faith that left us in no doubt at all as to the confidence, sincerity and knowledge of the hope they have in The Lord Jesus, and a young lady, Fatou Kineh Kujabi, was the first of these. Early the following morning we were gathered by the creek at Old Jeshwang when Fatou put on the name of her saviour in the waters of baptism - a very fitting way to come to the end of our study of Jesus' death & resurrection. 

Our activities then shifted to Farafenni, a small town a days drive to the east of Banjul. A leaking fuel tank resulted in it being a memorable journey!

Upon arriving in Farafenni a very successful preaching session at the local school attended by refugees at Bambally was followed by the first of our Bible Talks, Martyn speaking about "Lessons from Jesus' Parables".
Next we travelled to Bansang, a town some 100K further into the interior, where we were to meet a Nigerian Teacher contact and also to interview James Y. Kamara, a student of Brother Roger Shemeld (Sheffield) from the Refugee Camp at Basse. Following his good confession of faith, arrangements were put in place for James and a number of other contacts to visit Farafenni on Saturday in preparation for the baptism and 'Breaking of Bread' on Sunday.

Next on the agenda was the village of Yallal Bah. On arrival we went to see the CBM garden and were very pleased to view the healthy crops of tomatoes, onions, cabbages, lettuce, cassava, peppers, okra, etc. The garden was full of women and children who were busy drawing water in preparation for the evening watering. There is plenty of water in The Gambia, provided you are prepared to draw it (or dig for it) - it was the rains which failed and ruined the traditional harvest.

Meal Time Gambian Style

Back to Farafenni for the Evening Talk, Ray's turn this time on "Lessons from Jesus' Miracles" whilst Mike and Brenda visited the village of Dutabullu.  The next day had been set aside for a wedding, but complications with ill health in the bride's family led to the wedding being postponed for a few days, so a restructured day began with the readings. The brothers and sisters in Dutabullu were visited and their garden, which had been made available for village use, inspected. 

Over our evening meal that night we witnessed the arrival of a mixed group of Africans and Europeans and were soon in conversation with two Norwegians who were working in The Gambia in "Village Support" providing expertise in agriculture and education. They seemed interested in what we were doing and we talked a good while. 

Down to the river at Balingho on the following morning and the joy of witnessing the baptism of James. On the way back to the car we were surprised to see our companions of last night making their way along the bank "we were interested to see what an adult immersion was like!" They were too late, but thanks to digital photography they were able to see what they had missed. It was a very joyful "receiving in" of Brother James at the Breaking of Bread. 

Team discussions about the situation of our brothers and sisters in the ecclesia continued well into that evening, and the following morning we set off back to Banjul. Inevitably the car would break down again, this time it was complete brake failure just on the outskirts of Barra. Repairs were effected by a local mechanic and we arrived safely mid-afternoon. Martyn's talk at the Latri Kunda compound brought our day to a close.

The rest of the week was the usual busy round, of visits to the hospital; bank affairs; visits to brothers & sisters and preparations for the wedding of Bro Njat and our new Sister Fatou, who journeying down on Wednesday for their wedding on Thursday. Public Talks were also continued at Latri Kunda and also held at the YMCA in Banjul.

The day of the wedding dawned and we discovered that the Meeting Room had been well prepared and a flower arrangement (from the garden) placed on the table. By 11am a good number of brothers & sisters were present and shortly afterwards the last family members arrived. The wedding itself began, unusually, with Sister Fatou being formally received into fellowship and then it followed a familiar pattern.
If Fatou's baptism had brought our Bible school to a fitting conclusion, her wedding to Njat was a lovely way to end our visit and remind us of the Wedding we look forward to taking part in when our Lord returns.

Information about The Gambia