Can Good News transform Madagascar?
By Tianna Haas | Madagascar in Southern Africa
Naomi Coleman teaches pupil in Mandritsara, Madagascar, with the Good News Project.
The Good News Project is a life-giving resource for Madagascar. It began a quarter of a century ago with a singular goal: to introduce the bustling town of Mandritsara to salvation through Jesus. The Association of Bible Baptist Churches of Madagascar and the Africa Evangelical Fellowship decided to enact this vision through a missional hospital.
The hospital has advanced over time and inspired other missional initiatives like the Good News School, the Good News Radio, the Good News Community Health Team, church development and training for nurses.
Teaching Good News
Along with the varied services at the project come gospel workers with a wide range of capacities. Naomi Coleman, who teaches the children of her British colleagues, is one of these workers. She was unexpectedly drawn overseas after a 10-year teaching career in England and has now taught pupils in Mandritsara for four years.
Naomi uses British-style curriculum, which is especially helpful for families that return to the UK. The schools in Mandritsara use French as well as a different curriculum. Her students also cycle in and out as parents’ terms end or home assignment rolls around.
Naomi said: “Personally, I’ve found it really hard saying goodbye to families who have left for good; the parents of the kids I’ve taught have become friends as we share the joys and trials of their children’s lives, and the ups and downs of the project, the church and life in Mandritsara.”
Naomi admits that the turnover of students can be a challenge, but she often receives glimpses of the eternal reward. She said: “It’s made me really think about why I’m here. Is it worth it – all the investment in a few young lives and then the sadness when they go? Ultimately, I think the project is a great way of sharing Jesus’ love with a needy people, and I’m learning so much about faith in God by living cross-culturally. So, despite the challenges, it’s worth being here if I can support doctors and facilitate more missional medics coming with young children.”
Since Naomi’s role has kept her close to mission workers from her own country, she realised she wasn’t spending enough quality time with Malagasy people. After a year of teaching in Madagascar, Naomi chose to move away from the hospital compound into the town.
She explained: “Being forced to talk Malagasy even when I didn’t feel like it – such as when some kid had thrown their flip-flop over my gate, or a man turned up to read the electricity meter – has really helped my language improve! Also sharing local people’s experiences of power cuts and a poor water supply proved a good leveller in terms of things to talk about. I can’t say I’ve got loads of Malagasy friends, but I am much more connected with local life.”
Naomi’s effort to leave her comfort zone and live in the same conditions as those the Good News Project serves reflects Jesus’ sacrifice to come to earth and experience what we as humans experience.
The branches of the Good News Project often work together to share the gospel. In 2018, the radio station broadcasted a message: “Women experiencing obstetric fistula after labour can come to the Good News Hospital’s special event and receive surgery.”
The invitation was sent out over the radio waves for weeks, and women responded. Many came for the necessary operation and recovered from the condition. The hospital also shared with every patient what Jesus accomplished on the cross for them.
A teenager, Mirana*, was one of these women with obstetric fistula, and she heard the good news about Christ’s love and forgiveness while at the hospital. She left without committing her life to Jesus, but she was due for a check up a few months later.
At the appointment, Mirana expressed to a Malagasy doctor that she wanted to place her faith in Jesus and dedicate herself to him.
Naomi later heard her testimony and reported: “I have been privileged to… see the joy on the face of this young lady. Her future has been turned around both by medical intervention and by her acceptance of the gospel.”
From school teachers to medical doctors and the radio crew, the Good News Project is harnessing the skills of many to demonstrate the transformational reality of the gospel.
Join the Good News Project
• Mirana to grow in her faith through discipleship.
• more opportunities to share the good news of Jesus in word and deed in Mandritsara. Thank God for what he has done already through the Good News Project.
• more doctors and surgeons, whether Malagasy or expatriate, with the right medical expertise and a heart for mission for the Good News Hospital.
• Naomi to stay close to the Lord through all the ups and downs of life and ministry in Mandritsara.