Greetings to all of those who love our Lord and yearn to see His Gospel proclaimed throughout the world. As we move forward into a New Year, the work is flourishing and growing in West Africa. We take this time to describe some of the significant happenings over the last few months.
15 Plus Souls Baptized in Northern Togo
“For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ for it is the POWER of God to Salvation for everyone who believes ...” (Romans 1:16). This power was profoundly evident in the French speaking village of Korbongou Togo recently as 15 precious souls made the decision to be buried with Jesus Christ in baptism on a wet and rainy day. Thoughts of that day of Pentecost two thousand years ago came to our mind as we witnessed the atmosphere of joy as sins were washed away, and new members were added to the body of Christ. A new congregation was born, and we are rejoicing with the angels in heaven! There is now a new beacon of light shining brightly in this French speaking area of the world which has been influenced greatly by pagan and Islamic religious beliefs. As the weeks pass by, others have chosen to forsake all to join this growing congregation, and over 100 precious souls, including children, are now joining this group of Christians at their regular worship assemblies. We would like to take you on a quick journey to the village of Korbongou in northern Togo.
A Journey to Northern Togo
As you move north through Togo you pass through about 40 different ethnic groups of people. Each of these distinct tribes has their own language, their own culture, and their own attitude towards religion. The predominant tribe in the southern portion of the country is the Ewes who make up about one third of the population of Togo. Many in this tribe which is also prevalent in the neighboring country of Ghana have embraced Christianity! However, it has been very difficult for them to give up their pagan African Traditional Religious beliefs. As a result, many have moved towards a syncretic belief system that merges Jesus with their traditional beliefs much like the Voodoo that you find in the Caribbean Islands. The Ewes are the indigenous tribe in the city of Kpalime where one of our preaching schools (Center for Biblical Studies) is located.
Moving Into Islam
As you continue to move north towards central Togo, you reach an imaginary line where the religious climate shifts, and Islam becomes much more widespread. It is interesting to be driving along and see the obvious outward signs. The buildings change from churches to mosques, and the dress changes from African secular western style to African Islamic Middle Eastern style. You begin to hear the call to prayer from the loud speakers on the minarets. As with Christianity, many of those who have embraced the Islamic faith continue to practice the African Traditional Religion of their ancestors. This is sometimes called Folk Islam.
A Melting Pot
As you continue to move farther north through Togo you pass through various ethnic groups that have either incorporated Islam or Christianity, or both or neither, into their traditional religious beliefs. When you arrive at the Burkina Faso border to the north, you reach an area of Togo that has become a melting pot of different tribes from both Togo and the neighboring countries of Ghana, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, Nigeria, and Benin. While many in the area have embraced Islam, a large percentage of the population continues to practice the pagan religion of their ancestors. This brings us to the village of Korbongou. It is located about 10 miles from both the Burkina Faso border and the major city of Dapaong where we planted a new congregation a few years ago. A Togolese missionary named Bedjelsi Fidele moved to this area in 2010 after graduating from a preaching school in Benin. He has been doing an amazing work throughout this French speaking economically challenged area of the world.
The Campaign in Korbongou
Fidele had already spent a week going from house-to- house teaching the people when I arrived in Korbongou. We continued for the next few days gathering those in the village and answering questions regarding Christ, His church, and God’s plan of redemption during the day, while we publicly preached the Gospel at night. The people are eager to hear God’s word! They are excited to understand that they can become part of our Lord’s Kingdom! They want to experience the spiritual blessings that God has promised them. They want to exchange their physical poverty for that crown of salvation, and the hope of riches of heaven. They began to line up asking to be saved. We sat down with each of them to make sure they understood the sacrifice that is necessary to become a disciple of Christ. They must forsake all! They must be willing to confess Christ before everyone no matter the cost! They must be born again, and become new creatures in our Lord’s spiritual kingdom.
Even though it was rainy season, we had to drive the new Christians in groups of five or six about ten miles to a place for baptism. Over and over again, we load up my car to meet Fidele at the water. We again discuss God’s plan of salvation with them to ensure that they completely understand what they are doing. And then they are immersed for the forgiveness of their sins. They experience salvation! The words of Jesus ring in my ears. “... Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved ...” (Mark 16:15-16). We thank God for these new Christians and this new congregation in Korbongou. There are many villages just like Korbongou in the world today. They need the Gospel! They need God’s Power to lead them to salvation. With your help, we can preach the message that will change the eternal destinies of many!
Bear Valley Preaching Schools
The work is abounding throughout West Africa. Students are being trained and graduating from our programs to continue their work in the white fields of harvest. We are continually engaging in evangelistic campaigns to bring souls to Christ, and organizing seminars to edify the faithful throughout this part of the world. Each of our schools in Ghana, Togo, Nigeria, and Cameroon send regular reports detailing many of these major events that are taking place. These reports and additional information can be found on the Bear Valley website at this address: www.wetrainpreachers.com/extension-schools/
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:58)
We want to thank all of 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.