“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?
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 huge 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!
Ahoefa 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.
Storyteller Keziah Khoo produced this story of Kondo – a Togolese teenager who did not have an easy childhood. Family circumstances left her with no choice but to transfer middle schools. She started attending La Lumiere (meaning “the light”), where she met dedicated teachers who mentored her and helped her navigate her way through life.
Storyteller Kathryn Shoaf is telling the story about a young woman named Djamila. She is the daughter of an Islamic soldier, but found herself torn between two opposing worlds – the familiar traditions of Islam and the unknown Christian faith that her mother had claimed. With guidance from two ABWE teachers, she discovered the life changing love of Christ.
Nyakpo Kossigan Dzidzinyo was born into a Royal African family and raised by his grandmother. After her passing, and a series of difficult trials, Nyakpo came to know the Lord. He is now a teacher for the Bible Baptist Schools of Togo, and highly involved in youth ministry. Storyteller Stacey Schuett tells his story.
Just as rainy season has brought back the green forest beauty, I have seen students’ lives being transformed by only God’s power.
One 10th grade student told me awhile back that when she returned to her village for a visit, she refused to go out to the bar with her friends and they commented that she had changed. They didn’t make fun of her for it but instead wanted to know what she had that made her seem much more happy and alive. In that moment, this student shared the love of Christ with her friends and told them how they could accept Christ as their Savior. Shortly after this, her father started calling her mother and sisters and decided to help pay for their school tuition. This was a huge answer to prayer as the father lives far away and rarely speaks with them. It has been incredible to see fruit in her life as a new believer and watch her experience God’s faithfulness in her life.
By the middle of June, the school year will be finished so I have been trying to visit all the schools as often as possible, encouraging the teachers to persevere until the end. It is always an honor to speak with the teachers and see their love for the students. I love hearing the teachers share testimonies with us about students accepting Christ. They are so excited about their students’ decisions and take discipleship seriously.
The teachers are my heroes as they receive at least half the salary of a public school teacher, some of them don’t even have a bed to sleep on, and have to provide for the needs of their families. Many of them supplement their salary by working weekly on their small farms. On top of this, they are leaders in their churches by teaching Sunday school, leading Awana, and discipling children. Oh, and if they are a woman, there is a good possibility that they might be teaching while carrying a baby on their back!
They are amazing right? The sacrifices they make in order to spread the gospel with their students is an inspiration to me. We need to daily carry our cross for the Lord and never miss an opportunity to share Christ no matter the personal sacrifice we may have to give.
Please pray with me that these teachers will endure until the end of the school year and will find ways to sustain themselves during the summer.
I remember once when my mother gave me a book for my birthday. I cried. I thought that a book must have been the worst birthday gift a parent could possibly give to a child. What was she thinking?! The book she gave me was “The Jolly Postman” by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. And I loved it. Today, I love books and I love reading more than almost anything else. I can think of no better gift than a good book. I have hundreds of books on my shelves, and my kids already have mountains of books even though they themselves are just beginning to learn how to read. They ask me to read to them every single day.
My kids probably own more books today than most Togolese kids will read in their lifetime. Very few books are available to Togolese kids, and most of the good books are closely guarded and locked away because they are so valuable. It is very difficult for the eacher to help their students become proficient readers when there are so few French books available to them. Today we made a big step in changing the situation. Continue reading Library books find a home in Africa
This is the 3rd week of school here in Togo. One day I was stopped by a soldier asking why I was carrying so many notebooks on the back of a motorcycle. I explained that they were for our Christian Schools and he said excitedly that his son had attended one of our schools 5 years ago but they had moved after that year. This was a Muslim man but he talked about how much the teachers and school impacted his son’s life and his own as well. How amazing to know that our schools have a reputation all over the country. Continue reading Back to School!
After a long and complicated school year including pauses for multiple strikes and the presidential election, July marks the culmination of all the students’ hard work and the teachers’ dedication. When visiting schools in June, I could sense a feeling of exhaustion Continue reading Last day of the school year!
A Muslim student accepted Christ! Even though she still has to go to the Mosque, she will only pray to Jesus during her time there. Her mother tore up her bible that her teacher had given but that hasn’t deterred her from growing in Christ and even leading devotions in her class. Continue reading Pastors Conference