The four week preaching tour was divided equally between Ivory Coast and Benin.
A map showing the locations of Ivory Coast and Benin in Western Africa
The first part of the tour was spent in Ivory Coast. The schedule in Ivory Coast involved preaching at Agboville, Divo and Lakota in between more extended teaching in Abidjan and the Gagnoa Bible camp.
Being very young, the Youpougon Church is still finding its way but is growing in the Word. Konan Rémi is the main preacher, and he needs our prayers to continue to feed the flock. He is doing the Preachers’ Course and is a hardworker. We had several services and question times, and I spent much time with the men leading the work there.
We visited a small Church plant in Agboville (1 hour from Abidjan), then two places from one of the mainline denominations (Lakota & Divo). In the first of these, through reading the books and talking with Europresse’s representative (Vincent), the pastor has come to see that the Bible teaches the reality of the sovereign grace of God. He realises that much of what his denomination teaches is different from this and he is beginning to voice his concern. Please pray for Benjamin.
The camp in Gagnoa was attended by about 100 people from all over the country. It was good to renew fellowship with many friends. I preached 4 messages on the prophecy of Haggai and was assigned to lead several workshops (couples, leaders, ladies & young adults). These were profitable times. The 2 sessions planned with the young adults went so well that a third one was organised, and I felt that the Word was not shared in vain. We looked at what is a Christian and how one becomes a Christian. This is basic but not always clearly understood by many of these young people coming from Christian families.
The camp was held in a very beautiful and convenient roman catholic school, and the person in charge, a nun from Slovakia, was very interested in the behaviour of the people and in the message preached. She bought the recordings and some books, and we had several long talks. Pray for Marika.
I also preached several times in the Gagnoa Church and spent one evening with the men there.
Together with Vincent & Paul, (my two colleagues in the book distribution and also fine preachers) we discussed Europresse operations in the country and considered the many contacts that have been made in a variety of religious circles in the country. Vincent is very active and has real gifts for gaining people’s trust with the truth. He has been able to penetrate many circles and continues to have an impact, especially with young leaders.
The time in Benin was divided with discussion about the situation of Europresse there, a teaching seminar with the leaders of the Parakou Church, and the Bohicon Grace Church Bible camp.
Our colleague for Benin and Togo, Julien, had indicated his desire to retire from the book distribution in the next few years. He wants to devote himself more to pastor the Church in Bohicon. We therefore spent a good amount of time mapping out the way we should go about coming to a new chapter of our operations.
On my last visit in Parakou, in February, it was clear that the leaders in the little Grace Church there would benefit from spending time looking at what the Word says about the Church. With this in view, we spent a day and a half looking at the nature, life and influence of the Church. This was followed by long discussions and it all seemed very profitable for these dear men. For this reason, I plan to spend time digging into the subject more fully in the future.
The Bohicon Bible camp has been held annually for 20 years. This year, the numbers exceeded 600 (including the children). The management of this event is becoming a very difficult. An added problem came this year when, 24 hours before the camp started, the government requisitioned the school where the camp was due to take place! An alternative was found in a hurry and then, on the third day, just as the cook started preparing the meal, the water pump broke down! All this showed that the whole event has to be examined and that alternative solutions have to be found. Much prayer is needed for wisdom in this.
I had been asked to preach 5 times (though this was reduced to 4 because of all the upheaval.) The general level of preaching from local men was good, each trying to show from the Word how sovereign grace is lived out in a hostile modern world. The fellowship with the participants was good.
I had a wonderful time of discussion with the folk from Porto Novo. The situation there is very good, with the two previously divided factions now reunited under the Gospel. Cyriaque Aholou’s ministry is being very effective under the hand of the Lord. Close to 80 people came from Porto Novo this year, whereas only half a dozen managed it previously. Pray for this Church as the enemy is surely not pleased!
Back in Cotonou waiting for my flight back home, I was contacted (via a friend in Toronto) by a delightful young man, from roman catholic background, who wanted to know what is the Gospel and how does one get saved. We had a very long discussion. He came with me to Church the next day and listened intently. Pray for Sirius who is very keen to understand the message of salvation.
These were four blessed but intense weeks for which I am ever so thankful to the Master. May His blessing rest on His Word and bear much fruit!
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