Vie Abondante Campmeeting 2012

Last weekend was our annual Vie Abondante Campmeeting.  For those of you who don’t know, Vie Abondante is the name of this ministry and it means ‘Abundant Life’.  We’ve been having these camp meetings in various shapes and forms since 1999.  It’s a time when believers from all 30 of our churches across the country gather for fellowship and teaching.  For many of them, it’s the only time of the year they see believers from other villages.  It’s a great encouragement because they can see that though the church in their village  may be small, THE church is not small.  They are not alone in their decision to follow Jesus no matter the cost.  And oftentimes, that cost is more than you or I could even imagine.  They are also encouraged and their vision expanded as they hear testimonies about all the things that are going on in the nation through Vie Abondante.

Everyone ‘lives’ at the Maradi church compound for 3 days.  They take turns cooking, sleep very little (wherever they can find room), talk a lot, encourage each other and just have an old fashioned good time.

Each year a theme is chosen for the camp, and this year’s theme was:

Fruit that Remains

You did not choose me but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit…fruit that will last.  John 15:16

This is an encouraging time for us as well, because it allows us to see the growth of the ministry.  When we first started the camps in 1999, the missionaries would make trips back and forth to the villages to bring people to and from.  It was a huge undertaking, planning all the meals and making arrangements.   Things have come a long way (and grown)  since those days as now we have some great leaders and pastors that do all the preparation/planning and the campers come on public transport.  This year camp was held in Maradi, in the middle part of Niger.  That meant that many traveled as far away as a 10+ hour bus journey both from the east and the west.   In vehicles like this…

On roads like this…

I don’t have a picture to see how hot that journey is….you’ll just want to take my word for it.

We usually have guest speakers come both from the U.S. and Nigeria and they share the speaking times – and we’ve had some powerful guests over the years!  It’s always amazing how even though the speakers have never met, the Word they bring is harmonious.

This year, however, we decided to make it a family affair.  Neal organized a schedule that included all of the leaders and Executive Council as speakers.  Twelve in all.  I loved it!  Our camp theme was ‘Fruit That Remains’.  A topic that is near and dear to our heart at the moment.  If we don’t have something that will remain, what are we even doing here?

We arrived on Friday (after our own 9 hour road trip – in our air conditioned vehicle) to camp registration already completed.  Pastor Hasimu and his leadership team did a great job.  We brought the banner and here’s Neal helping hang it.  That’s about all we had to do as far as on ground preparation.  As you can see, Neal is ‘supervising’.

I wish I could include a video sound bite of each of the speakers, but I can’t.  So pictures will have to do.

Rev. ‘Daddy’ Ron Childs (my dad in law) started out the first night.  The night meetings were held outside, and the morning meetings were in the church.

Praise and worship time is always a highlight.  These are Gourmantche believers worshiping God with all their heart.

First up on Saturday morning was Rev. “Mommy” Childs. (my mom in law), giving examples of fruit that remains: Mark and Timothy.

Ginger Jorgensen, director of the Vie Abondante Primary School in Maradi,  brought a great testimony about the school and it’s fruit.

Everyone brought a different piece of the puzzle as to how to have fruit that remains.  Here’s Jonathan Bowden.

Carol Belec one of our primary school teachers, asked the question – ‘what kind of fruit are you?’

Following Carol, there was a dancing ‘break’.  Anytime is the right time to dance before the Lord!

Pastor Moctar was up next – he’s one of our national leaders. He’s on the right.  Pastor Abdu is interpreting.  The language groups represented were Hausa, French, Gourma, Zarma and English.  So lots of interpreting was required.

During the morning meeting, there was also a mini children’s camp going on for the kiddos.

Delfin and Johnson lead these services.

Sweet boy…

First up Saturday evening was Rich Jorgensen.  He focused on the fruit of love.

Then the choir sang.

 Pastor Hashimu, the camp director ended the night with a message about laying a good foundation.

All the time is the right time to dance before the Lord. This happens to be  Sunday morning.

I was the first speaker up on Sunday and my message was about the importance of preparing the soil (heart) to receive the seed.  Here, I’m using a silver teapot we inherited to show that our children are a heritage from God.

Children’s services continue…

The Bitty Bowden’s, Isaiah & Anna joining right in the fun.  And let’s be clear, they are not tomorrow’s missionaries, they are missionaries today!  They really are as adorable as they look.

Erin Grove, a teacher in our Primary School in Niamey, shared a great testimony – children’s lives are being changed.  And yes, she is as sweet as this picture makes her look.

Pastor Zabeiru encouraged everyone with a power-packed message.  The campers were inspired by his boldness.

More choir

Don Powell’s message was about the process of bearing fruit.

A cool, colorful photo.

Adorable young lady.

Pastor Nelson – sometimes we have to fight (overcome the giants) to get to the fruit.

 Times of prayer.

Grace – the bittiest Bowden (and youngest missionary) with Dani, her mom.  She’s cozy!

Sweet times of consecration before the Lord.

The children sang at the final meeting.

Neal preached the final message – ‘Passing it on to the next generation.’

Outside crowd.

All our pastors and their wives were prayed over.

Then the pastors in turn prayed for all the people in attendance.

Another camp, marking the end of another year is over.  We had an uneventful (thankfully so) 9 hour journey home on Monday morning and all the campers returned to their respective homes on Monday as well.  But whether we traveled from near or far, everyone was returning home encouraged by the fellowship and challenged by the message.  Am I bearing fruit?  And is it fruit that will remain?

What about you?

You did not choose me but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit…fruit that will last.  John 15:16

7 thoughts on “Vie Abondante Campmeeting 2012

  1. Jean Coleman

    What a wonderful campmeeting. And I think it was good to use your own for the meeting rather than “importing” speakers. I’m sure that there will be much fruit that remains from this gathering…..even upon the generations to come. God bless Niger and God bless you!

  2. Lenoir Randle

    Sounds like it was awesome! I loved all the pictures…felt like I was there…well, almost! Really appreciate ALL y’all do for the kingdom. What a difference you are making in the lives of people.
    Joe a d Lenoir

  3. It reminds me of out last trip when we were there for Campmeeting. It was a life changing experience in so many ways. The praise and worship of the people, the presence of the Holy Spirit and the friendships made and renewed. I agree with Lenoir, what a difference you all are making for the kingdom. Loved the blog post with all the photos. I could hear the sounds and feel the people. Love to all, Connie Weis

  4. Sandra Paradise

    All I can say is “wow”. I loved the tagged teamed message on Fruit that Remains. Everyone had an input that would be deposited deep within the recipients and your question, do I have fruit that is remaining? What type of seeds am I planting each day? Thank you father for speaking to my heart and thank you Neal and Danette for your diligence.

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