Today marks a turning point in our ministry. As I write this blog post, Andrew, Tchéou, and Daré are kicking off our first disciple-maker training course with around 20 students from all over the Lamba region. This has been months in the planning, and we believe that this school will allow us to have a greater impact not only among the Lamba people, but even in other people groups all around the region. The intensive classes will take place on the last Thursday-Sunday of every month for a total of two years to complete the entire course. The teaching will have a heavy emphasis on the practical, hand’s-on work of making disciples, praying for people in need, facilitating Bible studies, forming study groups into churches, helping churches to mature, mentoring leaders, and finally training other leaders, disciple makers, and church planters.
However, it’s incredibly rare that great opportunities come problem-free, and that is certainly true in Togo! Andrew called today and shared that there have been several challenges with getting everything to come together for the first round of classes, as well as some students not being able to make it for one reason or another.
One student named Hareem was in a serious motorcycle accident yesterday and is still in the hospital. He was unconscious for 12 hours but is now alert and seems to be doing a little better. Andrew visited him today and will keep me posted on his recovery. He was going to come to the classes along with a friend of his so they could start a church in their village. We have been working in this village (Takpadé) from day one of our ministry trying to get a church going there, but we have run into almost constant opposition in one form or another, so in a way this latest event is not at all surprising. Please lift up Hareem in prayer, especially over these next few days. Pray for a full recovery, pray that he will not get discouraged, and that he will be able to attend our next first-level classes that will most likely be in about six months.
As Andrew was driving to go visit Hareem today, Julia (Andrew’s wife) called and informed him that a pipe broke in their bathroom and flooded the whole house. The crazy thing is that this is the second time this has happened in as many months! The old saying “When it rains, it pours” comes to mind. Please pray for both Andrew and Julia that they will sense the Lord’s presence and peace in the midst of a chaotic and busy time, especially as Andrew leads the classes over the next few days.
As if this wasn’t enough bad news, Andrew also let me know that termites have taken a liking to the corn we planted at Komlah’s house and have eaten somewhere between 60-80% of it! Apparently they first went after the manure at the bottom of each hole, then worked their way up to the plant roots, and finally the stalks. This came as quite a shock to us because wherever this same technique has been practiced in other parts of Africa, the termites have only eaten the mulch layer (which helps the decomposition process) and have left the plants alone. I contacted Dave at Just Hope and we are both doing some research, contacting some people more knowledgable than us in this area, and trying to come up with a solution. Please pray that we find both a short-term and long-term solution to this problem, and that those who have received the training will not get discouraged by this bad news.
Honestly, it’s quite difficult being here while all of this is going on in Togo. Sure, it’s easier and more comfortable to be here in the States, but in some weird way I wish I was in the midst of all this mess to help Andrew and to go through it with him. There are days—weeks really—when you literally feel like all of Togo itself is out to get you and bring you down. There are times when you are convinced it’s absolutely impossible for anything—and I mean anything—to go right. But then there are those times when God does something inexplicable and brings fruit out of the most hopeless circumstances, when He answers that prayer prayed in desperation, or when He somehow manages to use our feeble efforts as we cling to Him in spite of everything else around us dragging us down.
So really, these are not discouraging times, but exciting times. When things get messy in Togo, we have a habit of asking, “I wonder what God’s going to do now?” This perfect storm of bad news and big difficulties simply means that Jesus has great opportunities in which to work and show that He truly is the Lord of the harvest and has everything under control.