Sunday, December 24, 2006

A Long Hot Wonderful Day

This weekend is the annual convention of churches. Although all congregations get together regularly throughout the year on certain Sundays, this is a 3-day event! This year is even more exciting because it is a significant chapter in the life of the church here as yesterday we celebrated a union with the Christian Church of Benin. These two groups have operated in this country for years, but not together. But over the past several years (especially this one), God has been bringing us together! In conjunction with the annual year-end convention, we took some time Saturday morning to celebrate the union of these two branches of God’s family.

The convention is being hosted by the Kaiteme congregation, the oldest of our 7 congregations, planted back in 1998 I think. (When we gather everyone together from all these places, it’s always fun to see the fruit of the labors of not only our work but our former missionary friends who worked here years ago among the Aja people!) The Christian Church congregations are primarily located in an area about an hour from the Aja people in another people group. It is a testimony to the Spirit of God that these people from two historically estranged people groups can come together under the Banner of Jesus!

The first picture below is when the Christian Church folks (a delegation of about 100 people) arrived by truck…we were already in the middle of a time of praise and worship. But when they arrived, everyone stopped in anticipation of their entrance. They had prepared a special song and you could sense the excitement as they paraded in with their hearts full of praise!

The second picture is during the moment when the Christian Church leaders called together the leadership council from our 7 Aja congregations. I was humbled to be called to join these brothers in praying over the leadership of the Aja churches. I appreciate so much our brothers from the Christian Church; their humility is evident and their dynamic relationship with Jesus is contagious! I was so touched by their desire to lay their hands on these other men that when I got up to the front, I wanted to kneel and receive their prayers! (They quickly corrected me saying they wanted me part of the praying group!) I love the autonomy that this union still affords all of these congregations (we have 7; there are over a dozen with the Christian Church identification), yet the combined fellowship fortifies both groups for the purpose of evangelism, discipleship, and the spiritual battle for maturation and sanctification! It’s not easy to persevere in this land, where believers are still a very small minority. We are also working with just about all first-generation Christians (this breeds excitement for sure, but they are also keenly aware that they have no spiritual mentors in their families to encourage them). So for God to bring together these two groups under one umbrella will strengthen everyone in this combat for purity and holiness and the pursuit of righteousness! As we look to returning Stateside next year, these moments of laying hands on our leaders and lifting up their names before the Throne…well, they are special memories for me!

I love having my kids share in these experiences. It’s not easy on them to endure the heat and the long hours (especially when they understand little of what is being said). But they are real troopers…here’s a great picture of Timo with Mom and Dad (he was still grins even after we had been there for a LONG time!) He sure is a handsome kid!

UPDATE: PICTURES ARE BACK UP AND RUNNING....We'll post more tomorrow and the next day!!!

1 comment:

Ron and Marilyn said...


This is great and awesome news!! Even w/o pictures!! We are so excited to hear about this wonderful occasion and to see how God has blessed you and the Benin people.

love and blessings during this blessed season,

Marilyn and Ron