I'm writing this post in a hotel located in the very southwestern corner of Senegal, a country located at the westernmost tip of Africa. My wife and I lived here for about a year and a half in 2003 and 2004. During that time we led a young man to the Lord named Jean Pierre Coly. Since my wife and I left in 2004, Jean Pierre has went on to do great things for God in this country. Much of his ministry is focused on equipping pastors and evangelists in the southern part of the country with tools for evangelism, which is right in line with a direction our ministry has taken since we've moved back to the States. Today my wife and I co-taught about 60 people today ranging from pastors, elders, missionaries, to new converts. Our teaching on how to share God's Word to illiterates using simple Bible stories was very very well received. In that we rejoice!
But the journey getting here hasn't been as pleasant.
For starters, my father in law came with a team of six other people to meet in Dakar (the capital of Senegal) so they could travel to a country in the north together ( name omitted for security reasons). While Eliot and the team of Americans traveled to the North, Rhiannon and I stayed back in Dakar. During this time Rhiannon got very sick and I had to take her to a nearby clinic to calm her stomach. The team was in the North African country for four days and they were supposed to arrive back at the Dakar airport at 9:00 P.M. Well, the plane didn't arrive till 2:00 a.m. and for some bizarre reason, the workers at the airport didn't put their bags on the conveyor belt till 3:30 A.M. None of the team spoke French and neither was I allowed to go inside to help them. (I'd like to give my sincere thanks to my good friend Ralph Bowen who waited with me that night.)
Two days later Rhiannon, Eliot, and I flew to the town of Zinghinshour but when we arrived we discovered that our bags were left back in Dakar. We were told that we wouldn't be able to pick them up till the next morning at 10:00 A.M. Although it was inconvenient spending a day without basic necessities, we were glad that our bags actually did arrive the next day.
But wait, the drama doesn't stop there. We put our bags in a taxi and when the taxi got back to the hotel, the taximan wasn't able to open the trunk. The man had to go to a locksmith to open the trunk of his car so he could retrieve our bags. To top things off, I got locked in the bathroom in our hotel room last night. It was bizarre. I don't think that's ever happened to me before.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because today at the conference I issued a challenge for the pastors and evangelists that were present to use the training that they received at our seminar to share the gospel in at least one new village over the next year. Eight people raised their hands and made the commitment, and judging by what I know about the character of the people that raised their hands, I believe they are actually going to do it. What if as the result of our coming here this month, eight new fellowships are planted next year? Would it all be worth it? I think so.
Think about it. What's a few hours of inconvenience compared to the possibility of just one soul spending an eternity in heaven? The Apostle Paul said "For our light affliction is working in us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." Paul was beaten, stoned, and shipwrecked for the sake of the gospel. What's a few hours of lost sleep compared to that? Or a few minutes locked in a bathroom?
I don't know about you, but sometimes I think that if Paul's affliction was light, I'd hate to see a heavy affliction! Now that I think about it, what does that tell us about the affliction that Jesus suffered for us on the cross? The affliction that Jesus suffered for us on the cross makes Paul's affliction look like cotton candy. Yet Jesus willingly suffered for us so that we could have eternal life.
May we all learn to imitate Jesus in the way of self sacrifice, even if the sacrifice is little; it's the heart that counts.
Until next time,
P.S. Quick update. I'm back home now. Rhiannon got sick a second time in Guinea Bissau. And then just before we flew back to the U.S. from Dakar we were in a vehicle that ran over a curb and the impact was so hard that my father in law accidentally belted Rhiannon on her side and knocked one of her ribs out of place. We were really under attack this trip!