I know that many of you have been praying for Patrice and Jeanne (Palakiyém & Éoda are their Kabiye names), so I thought I’d give you a quick update from our second visit to their house yesterday. We had asked them to gather some of their friends, family, and neighbors together so we could begin Bible studies. Daniel and I went yesterday not really knowing what to expect, but trusting through prayer that the Lord had prepared the situation exactly as he wanted it. What we ended up encountering was very good, but certainly not what we expected! When we arrived, we discovered that only Patrice was home. After greeting us he explained that Jeanne had been called to go out to her village earlier in the day to help her sister-in-law give birth, and that all the other people who were going to be coming were informed at the last minute that there was a mandatory meeting at the local school. In the past this may have discouraged me, but I’ve come to realize two things: that God often does things like this for a reason, and that in Togo any event of any size or importance can be altered or cancelled by any number of unexpected things!
Just after explaining this Patrice said, “But I’m kind of glad that they’re not all here because I really want to ask you some questions.” He then proceeded to ask all about traditional customs and religions and how they relate to those who follow Jesus. We talked quite a while about that, which I think was very helpful for him. He then asked the mandatory question that we get everywhere we go, “What denomination are you a part of?” Because non-denominational or inter-denominational movements are quite a new phenomenon in this denominationally-territorial landscape of northern Togo, this is one of the first questions we get asked anywhere we go, and it’s always interesting to see people’s reaction to how we answer it. I responded by asking which church Jesus started and promised to build. We then told him how we are not concerned with what name is on a church building, but with whether or not the people in the church are truly following Jesus as his disciples. This seemed to really resonate with him, and he even shared some insights about churches in Togo that showed a lot of wisdom and critical thinking.
During our whole conversation I became more and more convinced that Patrice (and very likely his wife as well) has been thoroughly prepared by the Holy Spirit to receive the good news of Jesus and to follow him. We are really looking forward to seeing what the Lord does next Saturday when we go out there again. Thanks so much for praying for this family, and please don’t stop!