75 Years of Lives Changed – 2003

Edifying Work for Children in Timbuktu

Oyahitt, a 12-year-old orphan, has been begging on the streets of Timbuktu for the past eight years. His father died before he was born, and his mother passed away when he was only two. He became very sick after her death, and an aunt struggled to care for him. She turned to a Muslim imam for help who informed her that Oyahitt was “cursed,” giving little hope for his future.

When Partners International and partner ministry TNT began a Sponsor A Child (SAC) program in Mali early this year, Oyahitt was one of the first chosen.

Children in the SAC program come from TNT’s Elijah House, an outreach center for destitute children, as well as two primary schools funded by Partners International in the villages of Tassinsak and Bariz. Nearly 100 children are now enrolled, receiving food, clothing, and educational support. For many of them-children of nomadic Tua regs-it will be their first oppor¬≠tunity to attend school.

At Elijah House, the children take part in a daily “Sunday school,” have access to the Bible and Christian books, and are mentored by loving house parents. Ministry leader Pastor Noah Yattara, shared that regional officials, though Muslim, are supportive of the Christian center, enthusiastically proclaiming it a “first” for Timbuktu.

“No one here has ever done such edifying work among these very needy children,” he added.

In Tassinsak and Bariz, the children and their families have been shown the Jesus film, and slowly seeds of the Gospel are being planted. Beginning a sponsorship program in a region dominated by Islam and mistrusting of foreign involvement is not without difficulty.

Some parents would not allow TNT staff to take photos of their children or answer simple questions about their child. Some who did were accused of having “sold themselves to the Christians.” Yet, many others were grateful.

TNT staff hope that as parents see the love of Christ poured out in the lives of their children, their long-held misconceptions about Christianity will begin to crumble. The prayers of each sponsor will help to do just that.

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