Friday, February 10, 2012

Revelation - Burkina Faso

God is amazing! I know, I say that often, but the longer I live the more I stand back in awe of how he works in our lives, quietly, behind the scenes unbeknownst to us until that day when he pulls back the curtain and as they say here in Burkina, Wal-la’! His masterpiece is revealed, the puzzle of our lives becomes clear as we see how the pieces fit together to create a magnificent story of His glory and grace. That God would care so much to involve us in His work of redeeming and teaching His church is beyond my comprehension. That He would ask us to pray and then answer our prayers, that he would bless us with resources that we might give, that he would teach us that we might in turn teach others, that he open our eyes to his truth that we might share the gospel of the good news of Jesus Christ; all this causes me to bow before him in worship and adoration.

It was on the road to Boromo earlier this week that the curtain began to part. As I looked out the van window at the passing sights, I had this recurring thought that I had seen this place before. There was such a familiarity in the Burkina countryside, the many African villages, the crowded marketplaces, the arid and sparse vegetation. I knew it was not just general Africa I was thinking of, but something very specific.

Revelation came in the blink of an eye. In my mind I was there, 40 years ago, attending a missions convention at the Assembly of God church in Grant Pass, Oregon. They appeared, one by one, on the stage, the missionaries from Indonesia, South Africa and Mexico. But the ones that intrigued me were a couple from Upper Volta. So many years ago and yet I can still see them standing there on the platform in their African dress, I can describe them in great detail. I am able to recall their names, Dave and Jan Hall. It is their pictures and slides and films I spoke of in an earlier post. It was their stories that convinced me I never wanted to actually go to Africa and yet I was captivated by all I saw, I wanted, somehow, to be a part of what God was doing in the people of Upper Volta. I prayed for the missionaries and for the people, I gave of what I made from a babysitting job that summer, I helped with the car washes and bake sales and other fundraisers, that our youth group might give money for the purchase of vehicles to help “Speed the Light” to the native people. Year after year the missionaries would return home to share their stories, year after year I was enthralled with how God was bringing light to a people half a world away. Upper Volta would always hold a special place in my heart.

Decades past. Loren sr and I were driving home from one of our trips to the Steens, we had just crested a hill where cell service became marginally available when we received a call from our son. It was 2002 and Loren was calling to tell us he had been invited to go to Africa to share the gospel and to teach the pastors in a place called Burkina Faso. I was at once excited and terrified at the thought of him going, but knew it was God who was calling him.

Upon his return he shared with us how much he already loved the people of Burkina, what a joy it had been to go, to teach, to be used of God in such a way. He told us of some of the needs of the people, both practically and spiritually. My own heart was drawn to Burkina and we began to pray and to give, just as I had done so many years before for the people of Upper Volta.

It was not until I was on the road to Boromo this week that I made the connection. This land of Burkina Faso that God has called us to is, this land that seemed so familiar to me as I sped through the many villages and towns, this land IS Upper Volta the land God laid on my heart so many years ago. Somewhere during the ensuing years, the name was changed but all else is as it was. The pastors Loren is teaching, the women I am instructing, the children who bring such delight to our hearts, they are the fruit of the ministry of the missionaries of a generation passed, missionaries I had prayed for and supported so many years ago.

I told Marcel of this and at each of the churches we have visited he tells the story. I watch the older men and women as their eyes light up in recognition at the missionaries names, a broad smile spreading across their faces. I pray they understand, as I have come to see, God is awesome and mighty, merciful and kind, uniting us in the cross of Jesus, connecting us in ways we cannot fathom. As I pen this, (yes, literally, for time is precious while we are here in Burkina and no laptop is handy as I have some down time out “in the bush”) I am sitting in the midst of a congregation of people beloved of the Lord. They have come, pastors, leaders, elders and their wives to worship, to listen, to take in and to grow in the things of God. I am listening to my son teach what the Bible says about marriage, about family, about what honors God. Soon I will stand where he stands and I will speak and share with the women from God’s word, from my life, from my heart. I will encourage them to pray, for their husbands, for their children for their families. I will do this with absolute conviction as I stand before them, for I KNOW God is with them. I cannot express to you the joy that fills my heart; I know God is good; I just cannot believe he is SO good!

I sit in churches where you, the generous people of TFAB have given, that there might be a roof over the heads of all who gather. Today we gave Bibles to the people, food for their soul; but we also gave corn and rice, food for their bellies, as famine is coming upon the land due to no rain and a failed harvest. I am told the people of TFAB are the very first in all the world to respond to this great need.

The people have asked that we say thank you, thank you so much. Thank you for praying, for giving, for sending those who teach them well in the way of God.

When I was I Hawaii last month, I sat on the couch reflecting upon our visit there, thinking how much I had enjoyed it and how sad I was to see it coming to an end. I contrasted that with my then upcoming trip to Burkina Faso of which I was so fearful. I thought of how glad I would be to see THAT trip come to an end, but as quickly as the thought came, the Lord spoke to my heart and told me leaving Africa would NOT bring much gladness but would, in fact, fill me with great sorrow; in departing I would be leaving a part of my heart with the people of Burkina Faso.

God’s word is true. I am already sad to think of leaving these people. Their language may be foreign but their hearts speak a language no tongue can tell. It is the language of the cross, which unites us in the blood of Jesus Christ.

Continue to pray for us. I will be sharing tomorrow with a group of women here in Ouagadougou. Next week the Bible school, taught by Loren, Scott and Ian will begin and run for the entire week. Thank you for praying for our protection, I am not sure which is more frightening here, the bugs which want to invade our bodies or the vehicles which want to run us down. We are well. If you saw Loren’s facebook post this morning, you will understand why we ask you to pray for these very practical things. We are thankful that God protects us in the ways he knows to be best. Pray for the Word of God as it goes forth, that it will be received into good soil and bring about a continuing harvest here in the land of Burkina Faso. Above all, please pray that God will be glorified in all that we do.

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