Mali Memories, Part 5: B-Village – The Perfect Match

Posted on May 11, 2021

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By David Ettinger

Note: Back in October of 2007, First Baptist Church of Orlando – for whom I worked as a writer – sent a team to Mali to share the Gospel in this West African nation. I had the privilege of being a part of that team. I am sharing 7 of the stories I wrote about that missionary outreach.

The Perfect Match
B-Village (a code name given for security purposes) and First Baptist Orlando are the perfect match. The small community in southern Mali represents the first time our church has adopted a village to minister to as an ongoing outreach.

In fact, from a spiritual perspective, you could almost say that it was a match made in Heaven.

“Back in January [2007] we took our first trip to Mali,” said Jim Nassar, who headed First Orlando’s most recent mission trip to the African nation. “Our primary goal that first time was to find a village to adopt.”

With that in mind, full-time American missionaries to Mali, Steve and Susan Roach, took the First Orlando team to three villages.

“We spent the night, talked with the chiefs and elders of the villages and got a feel for each one,” Jim explained. “But when it came to B-Village, we all felt led that this was the one we should adopt. It was unanimous.”

And for several very good reasons,

Our bathroom (a hole in the ground) and shower (a bucket of water) “facilities.”

“It wasn’t the largest village we visited,” Jim said of the 450-member community. “We had visited another village that had about 2,000 people in it, but we felt that it might be a little too intimidating.”

This was certainly not the case with B-Village.

“We felt that it was better to start with a small village like this one and grow. It would be a good place from which to expand.”

Good strategy, but there is far more to B-Village than merely its accommodating size.

A Solid Base
“When we visited, there were actually a few Christians there – four to be exact,” Jim said. “So we weren’t starting completely from scratch. Also, the chief is a Christian, so that gave us a base from which to grow.”

A great launching pad, indeed, but there was even more, Jim said.

“The way the villagers and the elders accepted and greeted us was very welcoming. It was by far the friendliest village.”

2 B-Village women pounding millet.

But, Jim added, it was also the neediest.

“B-Village is certainly the poorest village we visited as well as the least advanced,” he said of the community that is high in illiteracy and completely lacking in electricity and plumbing. “But we really felt at home there; we felt very comfortable.”

So, everything pointed to B-Village as the community that First Orlando would adopt.

“After we felt that the Lord was leading us,” Jim explained, “we talked with the chief and the elders about our return and adopting them, and they were ecstatic. They offered us property where we could build men’s and women’s quarters. Also, the property is in the middle of a cornfield, so they were giving up valuable land that would cause them to have less of a harvest. But they were glad to do it.”

Once that was established, First Orlando contracted the people of B-Village to build a latrine/shower facility and dig a well. Now, First Orlando has a small community of its own in faraway Mali.

“We say that we adopted them, but they also adopted us,” Jim said. “It’s been a great match.”