Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Churches are Doing Well

In any ministry, there are days, seasons, and even prolonged periods of discouragement, weakness, and certainly lots of failure. I can say I have experienced all of that here in Benin since we arrived in 1999. All of it!

But I am so thrilled at what I’m seeing these days! Praise the Lord!

I am confident first and foremost that the fruit we are seeing is the result of so many prayers, many in this country, a lot on this continent, and countless prayers lifted up from nations around the world! Kelly and I love talking to our Aja brothers and sisters here and sharing with them that people in Thailand, Brazil, South Africa, USA, Mexico, Uganda, Togo, Burkina Faso, Belgium (and more!!) are praying for them…I love knowing we have friends, family and missionary colleagues in all those places! May God bless each one of you as you intercede for these Aja Christians from your ordained places of prayer.

As well, the collaborative efforts we have experienced with our Christian Church brothers and sisters have no doubt played its part in producing such fruit! Unity is a blessed promise of our God and it affords good and pleasant feelings of strength when we join with others in Christ to advance the Kingdom!

This past Saturday, the members of our Leadership Council met. I’ve said before, that at this stage in the game (with us leaving in a few months), I am thrilled to report that they did not want me involved in their meeting!! And the subject of the meeting was discussing the action plan for 2007! It gives me great delight to see their confidence and to hear of their prayer considerations for joining what God is already doing here. They met in a meeting place adjacent to my house, so although I was not invited, I admit to sneaking around and listening in on their conversations!! And while I honestly couldn’t make out much of the actual mumbled words through the steel door, what gave me great joy was to hear lots of laughter! This is a culture where seemingly vicious conflict is commonplace in their daily conversations with one another, even in the church! So I loved hearing these men (during my periodic missions of espionage and eavesdropping) find it easy to laugh with their fellow brothers. In the end, they sent word and asked if they could have me come in to hear their tentative plans, their concerns for the year, and then ask for me to pray with them about their initiatives. What joy!

On Sunday, I visited the congregation of Aflantan (ah-fla-TON). This is a church special to my heart – mainly because it was the first church I was involved in planting, back in 2000. These guys were so patient with me…it was here where I was clearly practicing my language…it’s a wonder anyone understood a word I said! While the numbers have fluctuated, a majority of them have remained faithful. I have probably spent as much time in this village as any of the 7 villages where we have churches. And yet over the years, while I would marvel at their perseverance in spite of their small size, I would also get frustrated in their unwillingness to grow and seek out the lost. But on Sunday, I was struck that this church had no doubt grown from where they were a year ago! Again, what joy! They kept having to go and get more and more benches as more and more people poured in. At the end of the service, 3 younger adults came forward to express their repentance, while also asking for prayers for their families to permit their conversion to Christianity. I loved having the privilege of bringing such a challenge to the Lord’s throne! He delights in making a way for those who love Him!

Again, while the work of the Lord is wrought with challenges of finances, jealousy among brothers, separation of spouses, sickness and death, and a host of young weak believers falling away because of discouragement, the work of our God is also teeming with victories over sin, freedom from fear, overcoming oppression, and most evident to me lately, unity is breeding strength and confidence among His people!



Kendra said...

Good report on the church there . .thanks for sharing! Good reminder to be in prayer for them as well. Thanks, Randy -

Donny said...

The Lord has certainly been working in Benin!! Praise God for those wonderful Christians.

KSC said...

Randy, I'm beside myself reading your words about the church in Benin. I guess because your departure date is drawing near, I find myself thinking often of what it was like when you,K and t first moved to Benin. Look what He has done these past eight years....so much more than we could've asked or imagined! I am so proud of you, Randy...proud of your hard work, proud of the way you have trained and equipped your leaders, proud of the way you've stayed despite incredibly disheartening circumstances, proud of the way you've allowed God to work, proud of the way you speak the language and interact with your brothers and sisters, proud of the way you've promoted unity with the Christian churches..all things that surely bring a smile to the face of Father! Thank you for going to Benin....but so much more for staying! You know I love you and Kelly dearly. My prayers are with you both heavily in the upcoming months. I am so blessed to be a part of your lives! Kelly