At home in Mali
By Amy Bareham Chapman | International
Puti arrived in Bamako, Mali, 18 months ago. Mali was to be a temporary resting place for language learning in preparation for an assignment in Chad. He completed two of the six required French levels. But with time, Puti realised God was leading him in a different direction. Mali was no longer a pitstop; Mali became home.
Now, Puti is joining SIM’s Faithful Witness team in a remote village in Mali. The Faithful Witness initiative places teams of multi-cultural and multi-skilled workers in regions throughout the world where there is little to no Christian witness. He’s waiting for his sending office to finalise funding arrangements for this new assignment, but his enthusiasm and energy remain palpable.
Puti has a vision for the city where he currently lives with a missionary couple. He tries to converse with his neighbours as best he can with limited French. Puti says: “I just go out and just share thoughts, even though I’m not perfect … people understand it, and that is the joy I have.”
He has woven himself into the fabric of the community, playing on a football team and Mali’s cricket team. He also runs a children’s ministry, offering English lessons, movie nights, sports programmes and crafts.
Puti demonstrates a different way of life for the children. He asks them: “Are you guys always fighting in your house with your brothers and sisters?” Most days, the answer is yes. Puti explains the importance, as a believer, of saying sorry, and he encourages them to try asking each other for forgiveness at home. This is something many of the children have never done before.
Several of the little ones struggle to comprehend and worship a God they cannot see, but even in this, Puti finds encouragement. He prays that their minds would continue to wonder so that Jesus can open up their hearts. According to Puti, disciple-making is a process, with each of the children bearing fruit in varying ways, but he has great hope. He notes of one child, “Her heart is Christian, it’s just her mouth is not there yet.”
As Puti trusts God with the details of the future, he draws on experiences of his past. An avid student, he earned bachelor’s degrees in botany and divinity in his native India. He incorporates his passion for science as he leads, expanding the children’s understanding of the world around them.
Puti recognises needs and does his best to meet them. He’s earnestly considering how to serve the surrounding villages. One option is to pursue additional training. Medical expertise, for example, could create opportunities for Puti to introduce the gospel in communities that have never heard the good news of Jesus.
He finds reassurance in the fact that missions work is more about building relationships than it is about accruing credentials – a poignant reminder for all of us. His testimony is a celebration of God’s hand at work in all things, especially the waiting.
• peace and financial provision as Puti settles into the village in Mali.
• wisdom as Faithful Witness determines what skills are needed to serve local villages.
• encouragement for all Christian workers in Mali.
Published 31 March 2020.