Monday, September 25, 2006

Excitement is in the Air!!!

This past weekend was a significant moment in the advancement of the churches here in Benin.  In various forms, God’s people have always needed and desired leadership, from judges to kings to apostolic leaders to elders to pastors to boards of elders to  . . . well, you get the picture.  Organizationally, churches often choose leaders to help facilitate the plans and vision, especially when a number of congregations are associated together.  Apart from the shepherding work of local pastoral leaders, this past weekend, a delegation of 4 people from each of the 7 congregations came together to choose those who would lead this fraternity of churches for the next 12-18 months.  Having anticipated this day for several weeks, nearly 30 people gathered early Saturday morning.  I had the designated privilege of administering the selection process (I didn’t get to cast my lot, but I sure would have like to!)  Candidly, I had been in much prayer all week long, notably wrestling with the notion that there was one particular “leader” who I feared might get voted in (he has followers, but his leadership style, in my opinion, is arrogant and detrimental to the collective group of churches).  There were 7 open positions of various functions and I was terrified at the thought of him filling any of those vacancies.  I wasn’t the only one, but again, this dynamic personality is persuasive, yet self-serving and domineering (several of the leaders had come to me over the weeks prior to beg me to simply appoint the leaders so that this man would not get a leadership post…I declined the responsibility and preferred that these maturing believers choose their leadership themselves).  The lead post was announced and among several “candidates” was our leader-in-question.  Oh how I prayed!!  The one that was eventually chosen was indeed a man of proven leadership and a man of humble heart.  Praise God!  On down the line, God showed us His power and in 5 of the most significant positions, I couldn’t be more thrilled with the quality of character chosen.  And as any missionary preparing for departure might think, it was such a thrill to see these men chosen by their peer group and those for whom they have responsibility of overseeing.  From all indications, everyone (well, minus one who left with an “attitude”…guess who?) seemed thrilled and there was a notable sentiment of joy in the air!  For those interested and who might know some of the names, Yaovi (Aflantan), Senou (Kaiteme) and Ega (Kaiteme) occupy the Executive Leadership Committee while Leon (Gbotayidohoue), Cyprien (Dandihoue) and Mathias (Ainahoue) come alongside the others in supportive roles.  These Aja delegates even demonstrated their own modernity and, with a roar of applause, chose a young female to represent the feminine side of the church! (ha)  Her task is a challenging role of organizing special events and making sure all the planning is well orchestrated.  These group of 7 makes up the leadership side of the association of churches.  There are many other men and women capable and still proving themselves as servants of the local church, pastoral leaders, evangelists, teachers and other necessary assignments in the Kingdom!  

I had the privilege of worshipping with a congregation that I secretly wish to reveal as one of my favorite places to worship.  It is a lively bunch with good leadership and a heart for the lost!  The church at Ainahoue (yee-nah-way) has existed since 2000 and has persevered in the face of consistent persecution, suffering, and frankly, lack of missionary attention.  But there are some faithful followers in that place and they continue to grow in size.  I was so pleasantly surprised by the size of the assembly!!  Praise God!  Again for the few who know this group, you’ll be pleased to hear that there 6 young adults and 2 women who have become regulars from the village of Djoumahou (joo-mah-hoo)…that’s for you, GB!  I have also been praying with this church about reaching a nearby village called Kpoba (poe-bah).  Out of some difficult circumstances, God is raising up faith, and there were a number of visitors from there (about 5-10 miles away, arriving by bicycle).  It was enjoyable for me to spend a good hour or so with them at the close of service in fellowship.  We shared together a meal of red beans that had its way of reminding me throughout the rest of the day of that special time of camaraderie!!  (  (for MC, a delegation from there will be visiting Batoe on Tuesday to visit the family who recently suffered the tragedy you mentioned in the Watchi Times).

This is also the week where we distribute a generous offering of school supplies to over 200 students scattered throughout the 7 churches.  While I wish we could give them even more (well, I could provide every supply for ALL these students if I wanted to, but then again, they wouldn’t be able to replicate such a gift next year when I’m not here), it is a significant demonstration of the love of God!  AND, again for a missionary heading toward his departure in less than 9 months, it is a thrill to say that the offering came in at 49% American money and 51% Aja financing!  From 100% American five years ago at the outset of this benevolent effort, we are growing toward more participation on their part.  That is exciting to me…while I’m not sure what will happen with my portion next year, they even surprised themselves when they totaled up all the coins they had given monthly since January, they had over $100!  More on this later in the week.

Finally, we’ve got some pictures to share (Blogger is so slow, or maybe it is our computer...but we will be posting more pictures later in the week).  Excitement is in the air for Kelly, Tori and Timothy’s visit to Texas this week. They leave out Wednesday night and I’ll stay back with Jonathan and Lael.  In about 3 weeks from now, the wife and I will swap places and I’ll enjoy a time of much anticipated time of rest and seeing all my family!!  Tori and Timothy will have the thrill of almost 2 full months in America, spending countless hours with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and many friends!   Don’t worry, we’ll have digital cameras on both sides of the ocean feeding this blog pictures of the kiddos!



Kendra said...

Thanks for sharing all the great news from there, Randy - what an amazing "marker" in the spiritual journey of the body there!! Cool to be a part of for your family, I'm sure. Sure am itchin' for you guys to hit American soil!!! Kelly, I may have to come find you at your hair appointment on Friday - I have a meeting Thursday night that I need to keep. Donny will be there to greet you and I have my calendar cleared to find you somewhere before you head for Baird on Friday. Wow -that just like a few DAYS away!!! Oh my!love you -

Brooks Inc. said...

So exciting to see answer to prayers. Randy- So thankful the Lord has blessed you with ability to write out these stories-such a testimony for us all!

Love you Vaughns!


Don Box said...

Thanks for sharing such a vivid account of the process for selection of leaders of the local churches. May they be richly blessed with wisdom and humility. We look forward to seeing all of you soon.

Greg Bailey said...

I am so thrilled! I cannot explain the joy that I feel. I am proud of those who have been recognozed ny their peers as leaders. I have confidence in those guys (who was the lady?).

Words cannot express the joy that filled me as I learned that the Christians from Djoumahou are coming to Ayinahoue to worship! Praise the Lord!!! He still specializes in resurrections! May we never doubt what He can do!

We must see you when you are in Texas! Please let us know what your schedule will be. Kelly, call me on my cell phone. You should have it from previous e-mailes. If not, I'm sure that your mom and dad have it. God bless you in your travels and as you continue to serve Him there!

Donny said...

Great news on the Leadership - some of those names are familiar to me and it does my heart good to hear their names mentioned. Love to see how God is preparing them for this role.

Can't wait to see Kelly and the kids on Thursday !!! And then you in a few more!!