I have always loved the game of chess. As a homeschooled teenager with all the time in the world (oh, to have that kind of time again!), I even studied chess and played every chance I got. Yes, I really
am was that nerdy! 🤓 A chess match is typically broken down into three different phases: the opening, the middlegame, and the endgame. While I was never all that strong in the opening, I do think that I had a pretty strong endgame. If I had an advantage over my opponent heading into the endgame, I always felt very confident that I could finish strong.
While the comparisons between chess and missions are obviously very few, the fact is that the lifecycle of a missionary on the field also has an opening, middlegame, and endgame. For the past couple years we have foreseen our endgame approaching as those we have trained are making disciples, planting churches, and now even equipping others to do the same—all this of their own initiative. We have said from day one that our goal was to “work ourselves out of a job,” and that day is quickly approaching. In fact, we are making plans to return to the States in June or July of next year. We believe that this is more than just a pragmatic, our-time-is-done type of transition, but rather one that has been initiated by the Lord working in us, changing our desires, and giving us an even bigger vision for the future. With the Lord already opening up opportunities for us to train disciple-makers in both Cameroon and Niger, and potentially even China, we envision a future in which we will live in the States but take at least two trips per year to Togo and these other countries to continue the equipping of disciple-makers that we have done from day one! We are very excited to see what this next stage of our lives will look like, but at the same time we realize that there is a need to focus on the endgame here in Togo for the next 14 months, to finish well.
Our goals for the coming year include: equipping current and future trainers to be more effective teachers and mentors, developing an oversight committee for the Oikos School, teaching administrative tasks to the school’s leaders, and preparing several people to handle the technology that plays a small part in our trainings. We are already taking a smaller role in the day-to-day leadership of the school, and it is encouraging to see our Togolese coworkers doing well with their larger roles. In fact, over the past few months Daré has recruited over 30 students for a new training that will begin on April 18th, so please keep this first session in prayer. Pray especially for the several new trainers who will be teaching or assisting for the first time.
One other area of need that the Lord is showing us is to help the Togolese churches and church planters to develop projects that will sustain the mission and provide long-term support for themselves and those they train. Recently, one of the very first guys we ever trained, Philippe, came to me with several entrepreneurial ideas and asked for advice and guidance as he seeks to implement them in the future. His vision was clear: he and the other church planters he works with want to start agricultural and husbandry projects that will free up time and finances for himself and others to reach new villages with the Good News of Jesus! Our prayer is to have the means, once Stateside, to provide short-term investment in projects like these which will help Togolese church planters to help themselves! If you are interested in helping out as well, please let us know.
Thanks so much for praying for the Oikos School and for the many disciple makers and church planters who have been trained through it and are now reaching into new places with the gospel of Jesus.