May 14, 2013
Today marks the start of my 67th trip around the sun, and this has been a good day. The sun was out, following a dark and stormy yesterday. KOMO Radio reported that 22,000 people were without power for a while, but we came through the storm without even a flicker of the lights. It's supposed to rain again tomorrow, but hopefully the weather will be a little less violent.
News from Togo continues to be encouraging; although I'm sure there are challenges. Mr. Nogbedji complains about more pain in his hip and recently made a trip back to the hospital in Tangiyeta, Bénin to see about the possibility of surgery. From what we heard, the doctor he hoped might be at the hospital is not in the country. It doesn't sound like Tangiyeta is a very good option right now. We also did some checking on hospitals in Ghana, which is much better developed than either Togo or Bénin, and we are waiting to hear if something turns up there. In the meantime, please do pray for Mr. Nogbedji. The pain must be aggravating and debilitating. He continues to work hard at the sewing school, and is out on visitation and evangelism in his "spare time."
One of our objectives as a missionary team is to become a part of the community, and to avoid as much as possible the "Us versus Them" trap. It isn't always easy, since we come with a message that is very exclusive. Jesus made this clear when He said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by Me." The people to whom we minister are also very exclusive. So it was interesting when Cindy McFarland and several others visited the M school on a prayer walk. Someone engaged a school guard in conversation while others prayed. The guard then expressed his appreciation for the building of the hospital, and assured the visiting missionaries that they pray for us every Friday in their religious services.
Todd DeKryger reports that they are installing trusses on phase two of the project. This includes the operating room, the x-ray room, and the lab. Walls are going up on phase three, which includes patient care wards and the intensive care unit. After several years of building support facilities, there is a new air of excitement to see progress on buildings where people will be treated for their physical problems. I will be traveling with a team from Silverdale in late June, and will be sure to get some pictures of the progress from last year to this.
Over the May Day holiday, the twenty nurses being trained at the southern hospital made a visit to Mango. For some of them this was their first time to Northern Togo, and there was some speculation and concern as to how the "southerners" would react to the northern climate, and the more primitive situation of Mango. From what we heard, the visit was a success. They even had a soccer game between the men being trained as nurses, and the local construction team. The home team won the match, which is okay. The point was to introduce them to the local population, and to begin creating a bond between them and the local non-Christian community.
We have asked prayer for a town called Barkossi, which has shown indifference, or outright opposition, to Christian ministry. Adam Drake and Mr. Nogbedji have been going there to do weekly Bible studies, and Adam writes that the town has become incredibly open to the gospel. We surely would appreciate it if you would pray for this town, which is about 25 minutes north of Mango, on a stretch of highway that is remarkably good for the region.
Anna Chubb continues her work with the Fulani people and wrote that the latest innovation to hit Togo is the micro-SD card, which allows people to play audio files from their cell phones. This makes it possible to put gospel recordings in the myriad of local languages, and Anna has been doing this for people interested in learning about God. She received a call from one of the hospital guards who told her that two Fulani women who had stopped by the hospital to sell him some milk would be coming by Anna's house to get their audio files on the SD cards that Anna had given them. Their conversation went something like this.
"Why did you want me to put files on your card?"
"Because we want to learn the Word of God and we have confidence that you are going to tell us the truth."
"It is a very good thing to hear God's Word in your own language. But even just hearing it is not enough. If you make food and you leave it sitting in the pot and you don't eat it, it does not give you good health. If you only listen and you do not meditate on the meaning of these words from God for your life, it will not help you."
"We want to understand these words and tell everyone in our family about them."
They knew that I had the Jesus film in their language from a previous visit and did not want to leave until they had watched some of it again. We watched for awhile until it got to a scene where the crowd was angry at the words Jesus spoke in the temple. "That is all we have time for today," I said. "In the time of Jesus, you see that people did not like Him and they didn't want to hear His words. Even still today there are many people who do not like Jesus and they do not want to hear about His teachings. I am very happy that you want to learn about Him and to study God's Word, but you must know that perhaps not all of your family and friends will accept this. Maybe you will suffer. Jesus said that the road of truth which leads to God is a narrow way and a hard way and not many people find it."
"We don't care if anyone else follows us or if we suffer. We want to hear this message. We will come back to your house again soon."
There is an open door for the gospel in Northern Togo. Let us pray that God will do a mighty work throughout Northern Togo, and beyond into neighboring countries. We thank you for your prayers on our behalf as well. It is a privilege to serve God wherever He places us.
Yours in His service,
Tim & Esther Neufeld
302 S. 61st St.
Tacoma, WA 98408