Greetings from West Africa to all of our brothers, and sisters, and friends throughout the world. We thank God for your fellowship with us in the gospel as we labor to bring the truth to the lost throughout West Africa. It has been wonderful to meet with many of you while reporting on the many works that we are doing together to fulfill our Lord’s Great Commission. We are training many preachers and teachers while others are hearing and obeying the words of life. Without you, this effort would not be possible. May our Lord continue to shower bountiful blessings upon each of you as we all attempt to faithfully follow Him. Thank you so much for your love, encouragement, and support!
The Challenge of Many Languages
In Genesis 11:7-9, we read: "Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech." So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.
Konkombas, Dagombas, Gonjas, Fantes, Asantes, Gas, Frafras, Dagares, Bissas, Ewes, .... These may only be words to you, but in Ghana these are only a few of the many distinct ethnic groups which have their own languages, and their own cultural practices. There are over 1600 different ethnic groups scattered throughout West Africa that need to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ in a language that they can understand. We must convey the gospel message in a way that makes sense to each of them based upon their own cultural background, worldview, and thinking process. It is not enough for them to hear the message; God’s meaning must be understood and obeyed! In the words of Jesus:
“It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught by God.' Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.” (John 6:45)
Africans are very religious people! In addition to all the different languages, each ethnic group has their own African religious practices and beliefs. Juju, fetish priests, spells and potions, divination, rainmakers, chieftaincy, animal sacrifices, spirits in the trees and rocks and rivers, pouring libation, veneration of ancestors, miracles, crosses and mosques. Their traditional religion is continually changing to meet the needs of the people, and has been significantly impacted and influenced by the importation and acceptance of Islam and Christianity in many areas. Islam, Christianity and African religion intermingle throughout almost every community in Africa, and are a part of the lives of practically all members of society. Since religion already plays a significant role in the mind and everyday lives of the people, it is important that we carefully present the gospel message in a way that fits into their cultural understanding. As we said above, It is not enough for them to hear the message; God’s meaning must be understood and obeyed!
But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our report?” (Romans 10:16)
Training West African Evangelists
An effective West African evangelist needs to have an excellent knowledge of the indigenous culture, the local language, and their traditional religious system. The best method we have found to develop this type of evangelist is to take someone who already knows the local language, who already understands the culture, who has already experienced the traditional religious system, and empower them with a knowledge of the Bible and useful techniques to deliver the gospel message. All of our schools throughout West Africa are accomplishing this task!
There are many advantages to the model of foreign preacher training programs. Economically, it is much more efficient to train evangelists in this part of the world. For the cost of bringing one West African family to a preaching school in America, we can train twenty men in their own home country. Many times those we bring to the USA to study do not want to return home so our goal of bringing the gospel to their own people is never achieved. The training that they receive from mature Christian teachers in their own countries can be much more culturally specific to the work they will engage in when they graduate. There will be discussions in the classroom about many topics, such as chieftaincy, polygamy, juju, fetishes, spirits, sacrifices and other local cultural and religious practices, and how they relate to Christianity. The foreign student would probably not enjoy this depth of study of their own culture if they were trained in the USA. It is important for a foreign evangelist to understand Biblical culture and their own culture, but it is not necessary for them to learn or be influenced by American culture. The best place for this type of training to take place is in their home country.
The practical experience that the students engage in during their time at our West African extension schools has a direct impact on the lives of many. Local congregations are being planted and edified, and precious souls are brought to Christ. The students are able to learn and utilize many effective techniques for evangelism that they may not have experienced in the USA. The fellowship that the students enjoy with their fellow students, teachers, Christians, and their own families while they study God’s word has a lasting impact on the success of their work in the years to come. This method of training evangelists and preachers makes sense. Thank you for your fellowship in the gospel that makes it possible!
Bear Valley Bible Institute Website
Many exciting events continue to take place on an ongoing basis at each of our Bear Valley Extension Schools throughout West Africa. Students are graduating, preaching the gospel, bringing souls to Christ, and planting new congregations. We are working together with you to fulfill the Great Commission in this part of the world! You can read all the up-to-date information about each of these extension schools on the Bear Valley Bible Institute website at the following address: http://www.wetrainpreachers.com/extension-news/
We want to thank all the supporters for their contributions to this exciting work in West Africa. Without you, this effort would not be possible.
Contributions by check need to be made payable to: Mountain Home church of Christ
For: West Africa Mission
Mountain Home church of Christ
380 North College Street
Mountain Home, AR 72653
Any questions can be directed to the church office at 870-425-4330.
Or you can contact Steven at:
USA Phone: 971-270-8535
Please email Steven if you would like to receive this newsletter by email.
Thanks So Much, With Christian Love
To see Steven’s report with pictures, please click here.