Throughout Madagascar, life is ruled by taboos as an attempt to maintain harmony with the ancestors in whom the Malagasy worship in order to communicate with the Creator God. There are varying levels of taboos… individual, family, community, land and even tribal taboos as is evidenced by the story of the twin babies that Rota and Andry recently rescued and adopted! Since taboos are put into place to maintain harmony, when that harmony is broken– say with a flood, death, or tragedy of any sort, the cause is linked and blame is cast to a broken taboo.
Akalamboro is a remote village on the West Coast of Madagascar where we have been working since 2010 when it became the first mangrove reforestation expansion site with Eden Projects. Prior to the launch of this new planting site, the king of the area adamantly was against allowing Eden Projects to begin working in and around the village because of the taboos of the land, taboos including Jesus Christ and the Bible. Ironically some of the kings family were among the group Eden Projects planned to hire and with this new knowledge, the king changed his mind and allowed a mangrove reforestation effort to start.
Some time later, a small Bible study started for the few who were interested. For the following two years, those who attended the Bible study were harassed and experienced persecution by the zanantany, those who were born and raised in Akalamboro and who held onto the traditional beliefs and taboos. In 2015, Eden Projects partnered with a Rotary Club to build 3 wells in the Akalamboro area which brought fresh-water to this community.
Fresh water has the ability to transform the life of a community and as such, the king was overjoyed by these new wells and shared that “no one from the outside has ever cared for us as a community like this before”. As a result, the king donated land for Eden Projects to build a cement classroom that would become a one-room school house for the children as well as a safe place of refuge during powerful storms.
In the last year, Akalamboro has been hit by three major tragedies. In January 2019, Mana, the Akalamboro site director of Eden Projects died unexpectedly from an unknown illness. Mana led the initiation of the project in 2010 and has been a wonderful leader and partner in planting over 75,000,000 trees in the Akalamaboro area.
In September 2019, a fire broke out in the Eden Projects storehouse and spread to several other houses. Thankfully, everyone escaped with their lives but lots of Eden Projects research and equipment as well as people’s personal effects were destroyed in the fire.
In December 2019, tropical Cyclone Belna hit Akalamboro with its full force, destroying ALL but 3 structures in the village. The school that Eden Projects built was one of the buildings still standing and safely housed over 60 people through the night as the eye of the storm passed overhead and devastated the village around them. Again, by God’s grace, there wasn’t any loss of life amidst the shear devastation.
When talking with Josy recently, he shared that, “amazingly, no one has blamed the tragedies on the breaking of the taboos of Jesus and the Bible in Akalamboro”. This is a massive spiritual breakthrough to celebrate and give the Lord all the glory for! In years past, these tragedies would have been blamed on the belief that the taboos of Jesus Christ and the Bible had been broken and caused these tragedies yet, after walking with this village for a decade, a solid foundation of trust has been built– one from which the Lord is reaching into the hearts of the Malagasy with truth. Currently, there are about 12 believers in Akalamboro and the surrounding villages. Please join us in praising God for His mercies and pray that the Holy Spirit would continue to break down the barriers of tradition and taboos that block the Truth and that hearts would be open to Christ.
Alumni of the Year…
In case you missed the exciting news, Jamie and I are honored to have been named Co-Alumni of the Year by Seattle Pacific University! With this amazing award comes lots of cool mention about all that the Lord is doing on the great Red Island!
1. Check out this article in the Response magazine!!
2. Watch this short video about Alissa and how the Lord led her to begin the ministry of the Sarobidy Maternity Center.
3. Take a listen to Alissa’s recent podcast with SPU!
We’ll be at an awards dinner in Seattle on Saturday, February 8th. If you’d like to join in the festivities at Seattle Pacific University, click here to purchase your ticket! We’d absolutely LOVE to see you!
Please join us in praying that the Lord would be glorified through these various videos, podcasts and articles and that others would be encouraged and challenged to boldly follow the Lord’s leading in their lives. Furthermore, would you pray with us that the Lord would use this platform to bring more awareness and further build the team and network for the ministry in Madagascar!
Thank you to all who have joined our partnership team after we shared about our financial need a few months ago. The gap is being closed with just 40% remaining!! THANK YOU!!
In order to meet the remaining financial needs, we’re specifically looking for the following partners or any other combination thereof.
The ministry in Madagascar simply cannot happen without the faithful and generous partnership of so many, both in prayer and in finances! We ask that you would join us in praying and trusting for the Lord’s provision! In addition, would you consider joining our financial partnership team from one of the above breakdowns or any other amount that is right for you? All donations are tax-deductible through our mission organization, WorldVenture.
There’s three ways you can join our team…
1. CLICK HERE and follow the link to set up your secure account with WorldVenture where you can proceed to make an on-going commitment or one-time gift.
2.CALL (800) 487-4224 and select option #6 to speak with someone 8am-4pm MST (M-F).
3.MAIL a check to:
20 Inverness Pl E
Englewood, CO 80112-5622
(Please specify your donation as designated for Jamie and Alissa Shattenberg by writing account #173 in the memo line (Note, for tax purposes, our names should not appear on the check).
Thank you for investing, loving and praying for our family and the Malagasy people in our small corner of the globe!
Some of us (adults) are more thrilled than others (kids) to say that we’re heading home to Madagascar next weekend! It’s been a long home assignment and we adults are anxious to get back to life and ministry, our home and friends and routines in Madagascar. While some of the kids are more ready than others to return, we know they’re each uniquely grieving the good-byes of friends here in Santa Barbara.
We ask that you would lift up our sweet kids in prayer as they wrap up their time well with friends and school and sports here and prepare their hearts well to return to friends and school and sports in Madagascar!
Thank you for sharing in our excitement for the ways the Lord is moving in our midst– both in the lives of the Malagasy and in our own. We are grateful to be on this journey with you!
Grace and peace to you and yours!
Jamie, Alissa, Isabella, Eliana and Gavin