Ladies' Ministry Update
Thank you for your prayers for the ladies’ conference in Amousso-Kope last Monday and Tuesday! Wow, did God wonderfully answer! What an incredible experience and what a privilege to be a part of the conference. Approximately 70 ladies from area village churches met together. Actually, if you want some practice with Ewe pronunciation (the main tribal language in Togo), here are the names of the churches which participated: Agou (I am starting out easy here!!), Amousso-Kope, Kodze, Lankui, Xepe, Tagbalo-Kope, Agbane-Kope, and Segbedzi-Kope!! Some of the highlights for me were:
**Working alongside some incredible Togolese ladies: Madame Ziassou (the lady who does the moto ministry in villages around Amousso-Kope) and Madame Sakpa (the pastor’s wife who interpreted from French to Ewe for Cindy and me).
**Laughing with the ladies during games and skits/role-playing!
**Being able to share with the ladies the biblical principles of communication from Ephesians 4. I was amazed at the responsiveness of these ladies as they answered and asked questions. These are ladies from the village – many of whom have very little education. But they are eager to learn and quick to understand! Thank you so much for praying about this teaching time. Prior to one session, I started by asking the ladies to pray specifically for Cindy and me as we taught – I wish you could have heard them as they earnestly talked with God! God gave wonderful peace and direction and illustrations in teaching. I don’t know that there is much that is more powerful – or more enjoyable – than sensing God’s presence while teaching and knowing that He is providing the ability and ideas!!
**Seeing two films with the ladies on Monday night. One of them was “Facing the Giants” – a film about a Christian high school football coach from America who sees how God can provide for every need. It was fascinating to be watching football with a group of Togolese ladies!! In a country in which American football is a total oddity (football here refers only to soccer). The ladies were cheering like crazy for the “right” team by the end of the film!
**Sitting beside Grace, a young girl, during the Jesus film – sensing how her heart was touched as I listened to her sniffling when she saw the portrayal of Christ’s crucifixion; and then the celebration (shouting/clapping hands) of the ladies at the depiction of the resurrection of Christ!
**Eating mammoth amounts of rice and sauce! And popping a few prophylactic antibiotics because of not being too confident about the food preparation . . .!!
**Enjoying the privilege of working with Cindy and listening to her teach about the fear of God and what that means in our lives.
**Talking one-on-two with ladies at the conference (can’t talk one-on-one when a lady knows no French and I know no Ewe – consequently an interpreter is always needed!). Let me tell you a little about one lady. She and her husband have five children. Her husband took another wife quite awhile back (not at all uncommon here) but continued to support both wives. About six years ago, this lady (Agba) came to our hospital for some type of abdominal surgery. While here, she heard the news that God loves her and that Jesus Christ died for her. She realized that she was a sinner and asked God to save her. Her eyes shine with God’s peace when she shares her story. When she went back home, her husband blamed her for spending all of the family’s money on the hospitalization. Since then he has refused to give her or her five children any financial support. She tries to support her children through selling water and juice at the market. At the end of her story, she told me how thankful she was to know that Jesus Christ is her Savior – even though the experience that led her to Him resulted in her having virtually nothing of material value. It is worth every bit of the loss for her to know Christ!
**Spending the night in the village. The pastor’s family provided a nice large room for Cindy, Akouwa (our Togolese friend and wonderful helper), and me. There was a “bed” = bare metal springs with a piece of foam on it. I tried lying down and realized that the springs were so worn out that it was no different from lying on the floor (except that my head and feet were elevated – not too difficult to tell which parts were not elevated!). So I just moved the foam to the floor! And slept well, actually! Togolese ladies rise way before sunrise – so the entire compound was quite busy by around 4 AM with babies crying, ladies preparing food, the ever-present rooster calls, etc. All facilities needed were available on the pastor’s compound: fairly new latrine which was actually one of the best latrines I have had the experience of “knowing” (way better than most in Ukraine!!); enclosure for taking showers (not a shower in the way we normally think of shower. Rather the use of a bucket of water with a little scoop in it to take a “shower”). The shower enclosure was in plain sight of anyone who chose to walk by – and consisted of four cement walls (no roof); the walls ended at about shoulder level on me. That type of arrangement affords a nice opportunity to visit with any passers-by while taking a “shower”!! Tough luck if a person was any taller than I am – as they would have to duck to take their bucket bath.
Once again, thank you very very much for your prayers. Those prayers were needed – and God truly answered!