In the four gospels and book of Acts, we see many examples of what Jesus calls a “person of peace” (Luke 10:4), such as the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4, Lydia, the Philippian jailor, and the Ethiopian of Acts 8. One of the most striking, however, was Cornelius in Acts 10. Some of the interesting characteristics about him were his influence in the community, his devotion to God even prior to believing on Jesus, and the impact his faith had on his household and friends.
We recently became acquainted with a long-time friend of Tchéou’s named Agbala. He lives in the village of Ñandé fairly close to Kanté. He is a very influential person in his area, and he displays many evidences of being a natural leader. Like Cornelius, he also shows that he is one who fears God but has never known the way to him.
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We began meeting at Agbala’s house about a month ago, and right away we saw his desire not only to know God, but also to make him known all throughout his village. His house seems to be a central hub of activity in the village, and it was no different the day we showed up for the first Bible study. There were quite a few of his friends who came to see what was going on, and several of those who are serious about “walking on Jesus’ path” came back for the second study the following week.
Yesterday we returned for the third study to find only Agbala and one other man who has shown signs of being extremely hungry to know God. They explained that the rest of the group had to work a field and wouldn’t be done until the evening. We decided to go ahead and do the study with just the two men, however, after they told us that they have been taking the two audio players we loaned to them to all the houses in the area. They play the Bible passage, then ask the four “discovery questions” to help people understand and apply the passage: 1. “What does this teach us about God?” 2. “What does this teach us about man?” 3. “Is there a good/bad example to follow/avoid?” and 4. “Is there a command we should obey?”
Agbala told us about something interesting that happened the other day while they were cultivating. He had his audio player in the field playing the first three lessons (creation of the world, creation of man & woman, and the fall), which a few old men and women were listening to intently. When they heard about the serpent deceiving Eve they literally started yelling, “THAT’S how it happened! That’s why we have so many problems!” They later said, though, that God is good to have created man and then spare him after his disobedience. Most older people here have the attitude that they have done fetishes for too long to do anything else, but these men and women showed a genuine desire to know more about what God says about himself, man, sin, and how to God.
One question that inevitably comes up during the first few studies with a new group or family is, “What kind of church are you guys going to start?” Agbala said that most of the people he is sharing the lessons with have asked this, so we had a lengthy discussion about it after the study yesterday. We explained that we are not starting a church (at least not as they understand the word), but rather a family of people who walk together on Jesus’ path. In this family people love each other, help one another, pray for one another, and much more. We took this analogy a little farther by describing how a family starts very small with just a husband and wife but soon grows to include children and grandchildren, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters. “Our work,” we said, “is to begin many small families all over the Lamba region. Those families then grow on their own to include others.” He interrupted and finished our thought, “Yes, and when those families grow, others will see how different they are and will want to be part of the family too!”
We are obviously very excited to see what the Lord does in Ñandé through Agbala and his group of friends. We are praying that it would be exactly as it was for Cornelius, his household, and those within his influence, that they would believe on Jesus, be reconciled to God, and begin a new family that lives for the Kingdom of God!