Nina and Josephine

17796234_1313239288751852_6914024191058240245_nThis is Nina’s second year at school here. She and her best friend, Josaphine, love to swing on the swings, sing songs, and laugh together. Nina has had a difficult life in her village. Many people make fun of her because she is blind. Nina is also the niece of a witch doctor. This has caused many problems for her. Last school year she suffered from terrible nightmares. Praise God, she no longer has nightmares! Please pray for her salvation. She still does not completely understand the gospel. We are praying she takes the step away from darkness of the voodoo practices of her past and into the light of Jesus. 

16832083_1268642069878241_7524460043554040185_nThis is Josephine’s first year at school here. She and her best friend Nina, who is also in our Kindergarten class, are inseparable. Josephine loves to sing and she is learning French and Braille very well. You rarely see Josephine without a huge smile on her face. I’ve often thought when I see Josephine, that because she has grown up blind she doesn’t know that most people don’t smile constantly. All she knows is to express her joy for life in her smile wherever she goes. It is a beautiful thing.

She has found belonging here that she has lacked in her village. People in her village tell her mother regularly to abandon her because she is not worth anything. This is very difficult for Josephine. Please pray for strength and encouragement when she goes home on breaks. Please also pray for Josephine’s salvation. She knows that God is good, but has not received Him as her Savior yet.

Wiyau’s Story

16487003_1259137720828676_1398762897623476889_oWiyau is a very shy boy in our 4th grade class. His favorite subject is math, but he says he struggles in French. He loves to play soccer. His name means chief in his local tribal language. His family are farmers who live in a remote village. 6 years ago his father died, leaving him and his brothers and 2 sisters alone with his mother. His mother is a Christian, but he asks that you pray other members of his family that are not Christians. In 2013, Wiyau heard a message in chapel that really spoke to him. He decided to accept Jesus. He says that ever since that day, his life has been changed.

Shared by Lauren Lunsford

Ronaldo’s Story

16664888_1259139770828471_7425375136024984514_oRonaldo lost his sight when he was 12 years old after becoming very sick. He became completely dependent on others. One day someone was helping to lead him across the town, but then abandoned him. He didn’t know where he was. A pastor was walking by and found him. The pastor helped him find his mother. While they were looking for her, the pastor explained the gospel and Ronaldo received Jesus. Ronaldo praises God because after he received Jesus, he was able to be much more independent. He could walk places himself, wash clothes, pump water, and do other things that he used to do when he could see. He explains it was a miracle from God. However, people in his village could not believe this and accused him of being involved in witchcraft or even lying that he really was blind. He asks that you pray for these people that they would know the truth, God is powerful and helps him every day.

One day he met another blind person who told him about the Village of Light School for the Blind. He started attending. He loves it here at the Center and is praying that he passes this year so he can continue to 6th grade. Ronaldo loves to weave chairs to make some spending money. He also loves to sing in the choir.

Shared by Lauren Lunsford

Missionary Doctor: Giving Thanks – Some Visuals From a Mission Hospital

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I was encouraged today to look through a collection of photos taken at Hôpital Baptiste Biblique here in Togo. These photos (courtesy of Judy Bowen) reminded me of many things for which I am thankful. I’d like to share a few of them with you.
I am thankful for this hospital compound! We almost always have electricity and we have clean water, a home for our family, and a community of missionaries who care for one another. There are plans to expand the hospital, but even what we already have is more than many other hospitals in various places around the world.

Here is a photo of our obstetrician, post-resident Dr Potter, along with a visiting obstetrician together in surgery. And next to that a photo of myself with one of our surgeons, Dr Kendall, in what looks like a typical “consultation” here. I am thankful for our surgeons and OB/Gyn specialists. They are such valuable members of our team. I am thankful for open communication and for an atmosphere of encouraging one another.

Similar to the visiting obstetrician above, we often have short-term personnel come here to aid us and to lift us up. Here is a surgeon who came and offered himself as a servant, and next to that a family doctor and medical student who likewise came alongside the doctors here to be a blessing in service. I am thankful for the short-term missionaries and their desire to serve. I’m also thankful for the wisdom and experience they bring with them (and the chocolate they bring with them…).

Here is a little one being weighed and so full of life. To the right is an image of a child born prematurely who did relatively well for close to a month, but then ended up dying. It was touching to see how the mother cared for him. I am thankful for life. How precious a life is, even when it doesn’t seem to last long by our standards.

Dr Ebersole poses with a little boy who had recently undergone an esophagectomy after having eaten lye more than a year before. I am thankful for our pediatricians and the knowledge and experience that they bring to the table. I’m thankful for our success stories.


Here is a photo of a chaplain sharing the gospel and then one of a nurse praying with a patient. I am so thankful for our chaplains, nurses, and aids. They so often help us with the language barriers we encounter. I am amazed at their patience toward us. I thank God for a country where we are free to share the gospel, a mission focused on prayer, and a hospital where we take the time for both. I am also thankful for our nursing program here that continues to provide the hospital with excellent nurses.

Here we see Dr Ward, another post-resident, being his true self. Getting to know him and learn from him has been a lot of fun. Next is our fearless administrator making me *feel* tall. I am so thankful for laughter and for friendships. I’m glad that we can still have fun and lift each other’s spirits and remind each other the reason for our joy. I’m also thankful for our administration team and for their willingness to brave so many meetings to keep the hospital running.

In this photo, I’ve come down to everybody else’s level so that our photographer could get a decent shot while the PA laughs at me. In the next, I’m asking a patient (in limited French) if her pain is any better. I’m thankful for our photographer. I am thankful for our PAs and the outstanding work that they do. I’m thankful for my limited French and the gratefulness of our patients.

There aren’t any pictures to go along with this, but I’m thankful for my family and how well they have taken adjusting to life in Africa. Also, dear friends, I’m thankful for you and your prayers for us as we continue to work. May Jesus be lifted up.

-Shared by Seth Mallay

Kokouvi and Gros

16113045_1240107612731687_1659881240597603273_oThis summer we heard about a child who was blind in a village about an hour and a half away from our school. We went to visit this child and see if they would be interested in coming to our school. That day we met Kokouvi and his brother Gros, who is also blind. Kokouvi is 12 years old and comes from a very poor family. He has never had the opportunity to attend school, due to his disability. When we explained to the family that our school is for people who are blind, they were thrilled. They didn’t know that their children would ever be able to attend school. When their parents arrived to drop them off, they were amazed at Braille and how the students can read with their fingers. Kokouvi has started the Kindergarten and doing very well! He is trying very hard to learn French and Braille. Pray for his studies to go well!

Please pray also for Kokouvi’s salvation. He has not yet accepted Jesus as his Savior. He also has been having terrible nightmares that seem very demonic. He says he wakes up terrified to leave his bed. Spiritual warfare like this is a very present reality here in Togo. Please pray for protection and for him to know the saving power we have in Jesus!

16179387_1240108369398278_1967194376958936047_oGros is the 17 year old brother of Kokouvi. Gros is French for “big”, which is ironic because our Gros is pretty small! But he has a big heart! His family is very poor and because of his disability, Gros has had a difficult life. One day I noticed a bald spot on the top of his head. Thinking it might be ring worm, I asked him about it. Gros said that he has always had that spot because the only way he can make money in his village to eat is to carry water for people. Because he does this so frequently, he has developed a bald spot from the pressure of the buckets. When we met with his family in the village and asked if he was interested in coming to school, he immediately changed into his nicest clothes, packed his bag, and said he was ready to go back to the school with us to start right away. His family is too poor to send him with any money for school fees or his food, so they sent us with a chicken and a bag of corn instead! What a beautiful picture to see Gros come from an impoverished family with no opportunities, where he was forced to beg and work a very hard job for very little money, to be able to go to school, have friends with similar struggles, and to have an open door for opportunities and to know our God!

-Shared by Lauren Lunsford

Amen

16403222_1248908615184920_6448130359148245103_oAmen became blind just two months after he was born. But that hasn’t stopped his joy, enthusiasm, and love for life. As you can see, Amen loves to laugh and play. You can usually find him playing soccer or swinging on the swings. He loves singing during chapel. He comes from a very poor family, but he works hard in school so he will be able to support himself one day with a good job. His favorite subject is science.

Amen became a Christian in 2013 with one of his teachers. He had never heard the gospel before coming to the Village of Light. He says as soon as he heard the Good News, he knew it was truth.

-Shared by Lauren Lunsford

Aimée’s Story

17 year old Aimée has been at the Village of Light for 10 years. She has struggled in the class work so this year she switched to our workshop to learn skills she can take back to her village to provide for herself. She loves learning all the different trades, including chalk making, soap making, and weaving chairs. Aimée comes from a poor background with many family problems. She asks that you pray for her family. From abuse within the home to neglectful parents, Aimée has dealt with more in her short life than most people have their entire lives. 15966140_1229824300426685_4724117965863394902_nShe became blind when she was very young and was told it was because her mother was cursed while she was pregnant with Aimée. She also has an older sister who is blind. Aimée also does not feel safe in her village as “many people have bad intentions with her.” Pray for her safety and protection for whenever she is home.

Aimée became a Christian here at the Village of Light in 2007. She loves to sing worship songs and loves learning about Jesus’ love for her. Pray that she will take that knowledge and help her village and family to know Truth.

 

-Shared by Lauren Lunsford

Eli’s Story

Eli comes from a village where there is much prejudice towards those who are blind. Some in Togo believe that those who are blind have been cursed and have sinned against the spirits around them and their ancestors. 15895346_1229840560425059_7214514495344951844_nPeople in Eli’s village insult him and tease him because he is blind. He says that when his parents are not in the house with him, people come and beat him. Please pray for safety, encouragement, and protection for Eli.

Please pray for Eli’s salvation. He has not yet accepted Jesus as his Savior. Eli says he believes in God, but he does not yet know Jesus.

 

-Shared by Lauren Lunsford

Patient turned Pastor

During 2016 Hôpital Baptiste Biblique (HBB) saw another example of the connection of healthcare and God’s church. In June , M. Agouda, a retired teacher from the village of Gbadigbena, came to the clinic for treatment where he heard and responded to the gospel of grace during his consultation. Coming back for a follow up visit in July, he spoke with a chaplain asking for help. A group of new believers had grown up in his village because of his testimony. The chaplain spent time with M. Agouda and provided Bible Study Materials from the Christian Materials Center.

image1God also directed M. Agouda’s path to cross with another believer from a small church which had been started through the outreach of the hospital many years ago – a village much nearer to him than our hospital. This church leader began to visit, pray with him and encourage him in the Bible. Two of the HBB chaplains traveled to this village in August to encourage this small group. In September, the Evangelistic Mobile Clinic, made the more than 3 hour trip to provide a free day of clinic to the village at the church meeting site. By October, one of our surgeons, Eric Miller, accompanied the chaplains to see how God was leading in the establishing of another gospel outpost in a dark place.

image3This group continues to meet and study God’s Word together. At the end of December they journeyed to the regional church conference where they connected with an experienced Togolese pastor whose heart has already been burdened to reach out to this remote area. Please pray for this small group of believers and others like them to grow into strong churches.

-Shared by Annette Williams

Joseph’s Story

15874750_1222434257832356_2732867531880208908_oJoseph is rarely seen without a smile or his coat and tie. He loves to play soccer and draw with the little sight he still has. His favorite subjects in school are history and dictation. He loves school because he is grateful for the opportunity to even go to school. Many blind in Togo are not given the option of education apart from the school here.

Joseph has 2 brothers and an older sister. His sister is also blind and used to attend our school as well. Heartbreakingly, she was raped and became pregnant. She now stays at home in their village with the baby. Joseph’s life in his village is difficult. People tease him and insult him because of his blindness. Joseph became blind when he was six years old. He believes a man in his village cursed him. I asked him if he is angry with this man for what he did. Joseph says no. He says that he knows God is alive and is helping him to forgive.

Joseph first came to school 4 years ago. It was here he first heard about Jesus with one of his dorm parents, Mr. Kossi. He later received Jesus with one of his teachers.

-Shared by Lauren Lunsford

Emmanuel’s story

15871680_1222434061165709_6097299063576187801_nTen year old Emmanuel might be considered the class clown, less for mischief and more for his bubbly personality. Even though he likes to play, he is very smart and does very well in his classes. His favorite subjects are science and geography. He loves school because of the opportunities it gives him for the future.

Emmanuel is an only child. In his village people insult him and even beat him because he is blind. He is praying for these people that they would come to know Jesus and have a change of heart.

When he arrived at the school, Emmanuel had never heard of the person of Jesus Christ. His teachers and dorm parents explained to him that Jesus gives eternal life and He is the only Savior. When Emmanuel heard this, he wanted to know Jesus personally so he gave his life to Him. He says that ever since, his life has completely changed.

 

-Shared by Lauren Lunsford

Mathieu’s story

Mathieu is our oldest student this year. He is in our trade school program but he is passionate about learning to read and write in Braille as well. He loves learning to make things with his hands and doing something different every day. I asked him how he likes being the oldest here at the school. He says it’s definitely a different culture being at a school with so many young people, but he loves teaching them and says they also teach him. Mathieu has become a father figure in many of the kids’ lives.

Mathieu became blind in 2008. It was a very difficult time for him and he cannot talk about it without getting emotional. As a child, Mathieu was unable to complete school. Because of this, he became a disappointment to his father and was kicked out of his father’s house. When he became blind he sought out his father again because he needed help. However, Mathieu was met with more feelings of disappointment from the man he wanted to please most.
15585384_1209985505743898_717306978616654929_oLife in his village of Vogan is difficult. Mathieu once was independent, but now that he is blind he is fully dependent on others. Many in his town refuse to help him because he has nothing to offer them in return. He is learning to weave baskets, make soaps, chalk, and other sellable items. We hope and pray that Mathieu can provide for himself once he completes his time at the Village of Light.

Mathieu grew up Jehovah’s Witness but says he felt restless and unsatisfied in the church. He started going to Catholic mass but felt the same feelings. One day he decided to go to the local Baptist church and heard the Gospel for the first time. He realized that this was the truth he was searching for. He was baptized and walks closely with Jesus now. He now has satisfaction and hope because of Jesus.

Ways to pray for Mathieu:
Mathieu’s village is very dark and some consider it the voodoo capital of Togo. Pray for boldness and courage for him to be a light to his neighbors and family. Pray for his life after school, that he will be able to provide for himself. Pray also that his identity will be rooted in Christ and not his approval from men.

-Shared by Lauren Lunsford

Romaine’s last year

15590686_1209984355744013_284251365937764557_oRomaine is one of our best students. This trimester she finished in the top of her class. She loves to learn and study. She says she loves school because she is learning and progressing. She has been at the school for six years and this will be her last year. She is very smart and plans to progress to the local middle school.

Romaine became blind when she was one year old. She believes her uncle cursed her because he didn’t want her to succeed. This is a common theme from the students here. Many believe they have been cursed by enemies and it is not uncommon for people to curse each other using the local witch doctor.

Romaine accepted Christ in 2012 here at the Village of Light with a former chaplain, Mr. Woaku. Before coming to the Village of Light she attended Catholic mass with her family in her town, but she never really understood the Gospel and what it meant for her. Now one of her favorite things to do is lead the girls in praise songs. She is always the leader of the singing and you can count on Romaine to lead the students in a song in most any and every situation!

Ways you can pray for Romaine: Her father is ill and cannot work. Pray for provision for her family. She also asks that you pray for her to have success after she completes school and can obtain a good job.

-Shared by Lauren Lunsford

 

Passing The Torch In Togo

Sharon Sedzro was born 3 months premature, and weighed less than 4lb (2kg). The doctors told her mother that she would only live if they relied on God. She lived and was later the catalyst that brought about a children’s camp ministry that missionaries from the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism had tried to start over ten years earlier. Storyteller Brian Funderburke shares the story of Madame Sedzro, Sharon Sedzro, and Judy Bowen, and how God worked in their lives to restart a children’s camp ministry that is impacting hundreds of Togolese children.

Luc’s passing

“Give thanks in ALL circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” I Thessalonians 5:18

This is Thanksgiving weekend, and we’ve counted our blessings & been grateful to God for all that He is and all that He has done.  For the past week, I have been going back to this verse that I learned as a child—that mom repeated many times– “In EVERYTHING, give thanks…”  That’s a command for us to obey.  So how does one give thanks when returning from a funeral of a young man who was busy serving the Lord as a 5th grade Christian school teacher and leading a daughter work of one of our churches in Lomé?

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Luc
 texted me last Friday morning to tell me that his wife’s dad had died so the funeral would be in Atakpame (about 2 hours from Lomé.) Only Luc never made it to his father-in-law’s funeral as on his way to Atakpame, he remembered he had left something at his home in Lomé and returned & while driving his moto in traffic another moto hit him & a hugimg_2302e truck ran over him and he went to be with His Lord.  So I’ve been asking myself this week how can his wife (Ahoefa) give thanks for the loss of her dad and husband in one week—leaving her with a little girl not quite 2 years old and a baby on the way??  Thankfully, Ahoefa’s faith in God is strong, and though we don’t understand, we trust God’s ways are higher and better than ours!

graduation07-054Ahoefa also is a teacher in our Christian school & went through our training course & graduated in 2007.  She came to the training with many difficulties and consequences for wrong choices she had made, but God did a miracle in her life that year and she grew in her walk with God by leaps and bounds!  I’ve seen her continue to blossom over the years, and the last time I was in their church was when Luc & Ahoefa got married in April, 2014.  Please continue to pray for Ahoefa and her daughter Yayra.  Please pray also for the students in Luc’s class & the whole school as there are holes now that Luc is no longer here.  Please pray for those who heard the Gospel last night at the wake and today at the funeral. Please pray for the body of Christ who is hurting from the loss of one of their members who served teaching adults and children.

Shared by Beky Poteat