A little history
As you probably already know, we were back in the States from March 2011 until May 2012. During that time our coworkers, Andrew and Julia Stoff, were getting settled into life in Togo and beginning to explore the Lamba region. Andrew drove his motorcycle all over the area to meet people, get to know the area, and look for potential open doors. At one point he met a very friendly chief from the village of Anima and was invited to share the Lamba audio Bible recordings with them. However, after three cancelled or interrupted meetings Andrew decided to focus his attention on the nearby village of Takpadé. He did continue a relationship with the chief, though, and stopped by to see him again shortly before they returned home to Australia for a few months.
A witchdoctor curse
When they got back to Togo and Andrew went back to Anima, he discovered that the chief had died just a couple weeks after his last visit with him. What was strange, though, is that nobody in the village would talk to him beyond the basic greetings. Finally he asked a man from Takpadé what was going on and he explained that the local witchdoctors (ironically known as “charlatans” here) had determined that the cause of the chief’s death was due to Andrew’s presence. It’s important to understand that in an animistic culture, nothing in life happens without some kind of spiritual cause behind it, whether good or bad. So in cases of death, extreme sickness, or other major catastrophes, people will employ a charlatan to determine what the cause is, whether it be a discontent dead ancestor, a sorcerer’s curse, or a punishment for something the person has done. In the case of the chief, they decided that his new friendship with Andrew was the cause of his death, so their reaction was to essentially put a curse on the entire village, telling everybody that they could expect the same result if they befriended Andrew.
As you can imagine, Andrew didn’t go back there much after that. He continued to drive through the village on his way to other places, but he never got much more than a hello. A couple weeks ago, however, as he was riding through one of the chief’s sons flagged him down and began talking with him. He told Andrew that he and his family want things to be how they were before the chief died and they invited him to come back sometime to speak with them. So the next time he saw them he asked if they would be interested in having me come to teach with him about moringa. They agreed to hear what it is all about, so Andrew asked them to gather as many people together as possible for a meeting the following week. That meeting took place yesterday afternoon after the two Bible studies in Déouté.
A typical rendez-vous
When we showed up punctually at 3:00 for the scheduled meeting, we really weren’t sure how many people would be there. We figured that it could be only the chief’s few sons or upwards of 20 people. What we didn’t expect, though, was to find only a few kids and nobody else. After a while two of the chief’s teenage sons came riding up on a motorcycle and said that the older brothers were still working in the fields “just right over there,” they said while pointing farther down the road. So we got back in the truck and drove for a couple miles where we parked the truck and walked along a ridge top for another half mile where we met up with one of the older sons. He pointed to a distant hillside where people were busy working and said, “They are all coming too. They’re just finishing up.” So we waited under a tiny straw roof shelter until they arrived, at which time we all walked back to the truck and piled in. Back at the chief’s house we finally started the meeting at 4:30…right on time!
We began by explaining to them the history of moringa, its many benefits, and our offer to train them to grow it, use it, and teach others about it if they were willing. They became quite excited about it and said that they definitely want us to come back and begin teaching them. So between now and next Wednesday they are going to be talking with their fellow villagers about it and dividing themselves into groups of 6-8 people. Once they have done that we will begin the first lesson on October 4.
Please be praying that many people will get involved with this new moringa project and that God will use it to begin breaking down the walls of resistance that were so strong just a few weeks ago. Pray also that the Holy Spirit will be leading us to the person or people of peace that he has been preparing!
More progress in Déouté
The DBS studies with Francis and the teacher are both going very well, and it’s so exciting to see them discovering truth for themselves straight from Scripture without us teaching it to them. What’s also neat is that they have already begun to share it with others, and more people are interested in starting studies at their homes as well. When we did the study at the teacher’s house, another guy who is in the moringa group was there because he was curious and wants us to start doing the same thing with him! Also, in the near future we’ll be starting one on Saturday mornings at Francis’ sister’s house in the city of Kanté.
We are very encouraged by the way God is already beginning to work through the social networks (the face-to-face kind!) in the places we’re visiting to establish his kingdom in lives, homes, families, and villages. I am looking forward to the day when we cannot keep up with all the connections of people telling other people about what they’re learning. That day will hopefully come soon, so please continue praying for the future laborers who will train the next generation of disciples and disciple-makers!
“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers.” -Luke 10:2