Saturday, October 13, 2007

BENIN: Praying for the Aja People (1st of 4)

It’s been just over 3 months since my family left Benin to return to life in the U.S.A. We served as church-planting missionaries in this small West African country since 1999. Our years there were full of great adventures, incredulous challenges of faith, lots of homesickness and loneliness, but most importantly characterized by a host of life-changing relationships formed with friends who labor for the gospel.

For the next few weeks, I will post about our time in Benin, encouraging you most of all to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who continue the work of God there. Selfishly, I know this journaling is part of my family’s re-entry adjustment. “Everything-Benin” consumed my mind for the past decade. We thought about it every waking moment. We lived it and we stood side-by-side and face-to-face with so many of our dear African friends. Now that we have plunged into the American race pace, I confess that my thoughts are often pulled in other directions. Some important, some vain. Likely this has been part of my own internal stress for the past few weeks. If my life was so changed and so impacted by my friends in Benin, why did I just go the past 2 days so busy that I barely even had a thought, much less prayed for them? I am lamenting my own shortcomings here but know that most of the world does the same. Few people have even heard of Benin. Fewer lift up the country of Benin in prayer. And even fewer know the names and stories of our Beninese brothers and sisters.

I know several dozen families just like ours who continue to diligently serve in WA or have over the past 2 decades. Some of our dearest friends are other American missionaries who have served or did serve in either Benin, Togo, Burkina Faso or around those parts. I am blessed to know them. Ask the Lord to richly bless the efforts of missionaries in WA. It is not an easy place to live, yet in some ways, it is an ideal place to live, raise a family and serve alongside some wonderful African friends in the faith.

I served among the Aja people group in southwestern Benin. Totalling nearly one million in either Benin or neighboring Togo, these people are mostly rural agriculturalists and wrestling with the chains of voodoo, animism, idolatry, witchcraft, sorcery, fear, and jealousy. Oh, that last one is so prevalent! I want to encourage you to pray for freedom from all of the above! And we need to storm the gates of heaven asking God to strengthen the Christians in this battle. They are still a minority voice and face a host of challenges, persecutions and discriminations. But after knowing my Aja Christian friends (and collaborating stories from other American missionary colleagues), I will tell you that the world can have great confidence in the work of Christ in the hands of these African brothers and sisters. Talk about faith!! I sometimes feel like “I taught them faith – they live it out!”

Pray today and this coming week:
- With the country’s democratically elected President Yayi Boni a professed believer, ask the Lord to use this man to steer the country with wisdom and practical solutions to Benin’s challenge with poverty. It was good to live in Benin under a government that was friendly and accommodating to the efforts of Christian missionaries. Because such environments can change in a heartbeat, ask the Lord of the Harvest to do a mighty work among the African Christians during this time of relative peace.

Here’s how I will categorize my posts over the next few weeks (look for them around the weekend):

- WEEK 2: Praying for the Believers in Benin and among the Aja People
- WEEK 3: Praying for the Non-Believers (overcome the barriers keeping them in darkness)
- WEEK 4: Praying for the future of African Christian leaders – so much potential!!


Thanks to David Ker for encouraging us to thinking globally and praying for the world! Thanks DK for encouraging us to voice these perspectives so the Christian world can pray! To read some other thoughts about praying for French-speaking Africa, go here. Sorry not many pictures on this post, but keep checking back!

** PS - keep checking all week for Kelly's thoughts on Amy Grant's latest book! My wife has been a huge fan all her life so this week will represent much more than a book review. It'll be interactive and fun and we even have a contest to participate in! We both enjoy Amy's authentic Christianity and you'll hear more about her honesty in this coming week's review. Check back!!


Brooks Inc. said...


Thanks for these prayer thoughts...We will certainly lift them up...

Love you guys-


Kendra said...

Joining you in prayer for the Aja . .