Sunday, September 10, 2006

A Sunday in Two Worlds

This morning we woke to cloudy skies…even started sprinkling just an hour or so before we were scheduled to leave for church. Since the Tchatehoue (chah-tay-way) church worships in a thatch-roofed hangar, I was concerned that people might not even have an assembly. But we pressed on and the raindrops let up as we arrived. The entire way there, I was preparing my speech “even if it rains, give God His due respect and come to worship!” I was assuming a small crowd. Wow, was I surprised (and humbled)! I haven’t worshipped at this particular congregation in several months (I rotate among 7 different churches, not counting all-together cluster Sundays…so it’s natural for me not to have the opportunity to worship in a particular village but every 3 or 4 months). When I stepped inside, I was surprised by the number of people! Praise the Lord! AND the rain had certainly not dampened their spirits.

Secondly, I noticed as I arrived late, that there were two other teachers visiting from other congregations (one from Dandihoue, one from Dekpo). The former was asked to give the first lesson and I shared the second lesson (we always have two sermons in the churches here). At the end of the service, it turns out neither of those two men made a plan with the other, either. They just both made the decision to go to Tchatehoue for Sunday. The leader at the church was so thrilled…actually said, “We’re so excited to have 3 good teachers here today, and we only have time for 2 of you!” He confessed that a few weeks back, their normal teacher was absent and that they went several weeks without hearing any lesson from the Word. Now a few weeks later, they had more teachers than they had slots on the program!

I was also thrilled when Antoine (ann-twahn) got up and entitled his lesson: “the return of Christ.” I love it when I hear these relatively new believers choose to speak about that topic! To me, it’s a sign that they get the importance of not only Christ’s first coming, but his second as well! I followed-up and continued the same theme, talking from Titus 2…where God’s grace teaches us to say NO to ungodliness (while we await the glorious return of Jesus!) I believe they heard the Word clearly (even though that particular lesson challenges me a lot!) I share with them a simplistic “W” illustration. The first descent of the “W” is when God, through His love, sends Jesus to us (John 3.16). Then we talk about what all Christ did while on earth and we come to a CROSS on the bottom of the point. Then I speak about the mighty resurrection of Christ as the line of the “W” bursts out of the grave and heads upward! But then I talk them about the difference between a “V” and a “W” (most of these people, while not strongly literate, are at least familiar with the letters of the French and even Aja alphabet which contains these characters). It’s a simple illustration to talk about the fact that the LOVE that SENT Jesus to earth the FIRST time, will replicate itself! So then, through that same LOVE, God promises to SEND Jesus again to earth, this time as judge. But when we have the confidence of standing blameless through the blood of Jesus (not because of anything righteous we have done, that’s for sure!), we can anticipate His return with exceeding joy! And the final ascent (I’m sure there are theologians who have a problem with my doctrine here) simply illustrates the certain voyage upward as we join the heavenlies for eternity! The lesson is not so much about instilling them a proper, exact doctrine of the rapture or some sort of end-times mentality…no, we talk more about recognizing the promise that Jesus is returning and what that means for us today! I talk a lot about living “between the Vs”! We can confidently know Christ came once and ascended once before. Now, because the Word is True, we can confidently know He will return and ascend again as Victor! And with this reality in mind, we take more seriously the task as witnesses and the responsibility of living holy lives through the power of His Spirit!


Kelly stayed back with Timothy, Jonathan and Lael…the 3 kids still the sickest. Everyone’s got their meds, but we are still praying for some evident progress by tomorrow!


In another world, today is the Dallas Cowboys' season opener against Jacksonville. As I mentioned before, I had all hopes of catching the game on what I once called “my new favorite Catholic radio station” (KHOY, 88.1 FM). (I missed all the pre-season Cowboy games because of scheduling conflicts.) Last year, that’s how I caught all the Dallas football games. So I clicked on the site and the streaming audio brought up a new media player that never did anything! I panicked! It was 30 minutes before kickoff….finally I googled “Cowboys streaming problem.” I got a clue from several sites that KHOY was not going to work for me…I then went to my secondary source for Cowboy coverage, Fox Sports. Through GameTrax, you can view a visual commentary (no live video, just helmet icons moving the length of the field, screen refreshing itself every time a down changes). On that site, I found a chat room (appropriately called “Trash Room”…some very INappropriate language going on between fans of the Jags and Boys!) I was parousing the chatter and someone asked where the game could be heard online…and they directed me to, get this…! I don’t think this was a feature last year, so I never thought about checking such an obvious source. There, clear as day, is a button “LISTEN LIVE!” Admittedly, I became teary-eyed when I heard the familiar voice of Brad Sham on the Dallas Cowboys Radio Network! (Although I loved #41 as a player back years ago, I’m not sure Charlie Waters has the best radio voice as an accompanying analyst…uh, DULL, or worse, DULL with a THICK ACCENT! Sorry Mom, I know you’re a big fan of your Charlie!) While the dial-up connection here in Benin is not the greatest, it’s not too bad. So I listened to most of the second quarter and the rest of the game. Guess I missed the best part (Dallas scored 10 pts in the 1Q, then….)! Good try, ‘Boys…maybe next week against the ‘Skins at home!


Finally, Timothy said a quotable the other day. Refereeing a squabble between the two of them, I was asking Timo to be kind to his little brother. Timothy replies, “I don’t like to be nice to Jonathan. When I do, it makes my tummy hurt.”



vicki said...

Randy, it's always such a blessing to hear the reports of your lessons and descriptions of the wonderful sweet spirits and growing faith of the Benin brothers and sisters you work with.

But I enjoy reading you no matter what you are talking about! Glad you got to hear a little of the game. Actually you heard more than I did, but the radio talk shows afterward said Bledsoe was a disappointment after the first quarter. Right now the Manning boys are going head to head. Maybe the loser brother will get fired and have to come to Dallas!

Loved Timo's comment about the difficulty of being nice to little brother. Aunt Jan used to make my tummy ache sometimes, too!!

Love, Aunt Vicki

Greg Bailey said...

Hey Randy,

You are doing a great job! I am so proud of you and Kelly and thankful for your Godly influence among the Aja! May God continue to use you to minister to the people that we love so much!

By the way, I caught some of the Cowboy game at my Dad's house. I had to take a big break in the middle to report to the missions committee about our trip this summer. Interestingly enough, the time that I was gone was the time that the Cowboys struggled the most. I'll see what I can do about supporting them for more of the game next week. Ha! We love you all dearly,

Monica Head said...

So many things to comment about on this blog entry, but I have to comment on your cowboys experience. You are amazing. I am impressed with your dedication. I clean one of the coaches teeth. I can't wait to tell him that story. His wife and kids came in two weeks ago so it may be a while before I see anyone from the family. But I won't forget! Good luck catching the season at