Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Sent to Togo...

My first stop will be Togo...

My primary role closely reflects the priorities of our CLC foreign mission program. Namely, the training and on-going encouragement of pastors and students to be faithful preachers and teachers of God's saving word. 

In Togo and Ghana, I am picking up where Missionary Matt Ude left off from the work that he picked up where Missionary David Koenig left off. We continue to water the seed that the Lord has used others to plant as we rely on His grace for the growth!

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.
1 Corinthians 3:6–7 

In addition to visiting and preaching at the six congregations of the "Mission Evangelique Lutherienne de Confession du Togo" or the CLC-Togo, a couple of exciting events have been scheduled to take place in Togo while I'm there. 

Pastor Kossi has been working with five men since 2011 to train them to serve as pastors of the preaching stations/congregations that he has started outside of Lome. These men will complete their training and be ordained as Lutheran pastors in a special worship service while I am there. I will have the honor and privilege of preaching the sermon and presenting them with their ordination certificates while Pastor Kossi will preside over the rite of ordination. What a special time and opportunity to be on hand and participate in this big step that the Pastor Kossi and Missionary Ude have been working toward for these past several years. It has been four years since I have visited Togo and worked these men. I am eager to meet them again and begin this new phase of work. Praise the Lord for providing five more men to preach and proclaim the truth of His word in Togo. 

Pastor Kossi has also been working hard to establish a full-time Bible Training School so that more men may be properly trained for the Gospel ministry. A few years back he left his full-time employment as a school master and teacher in a public elementary school to pursue this work full-time. In the past year or so he has secured everything that is necessary to register the school with the government. He is planning an official dedication service while I am there. Local and national government officials have been invited and will be on hand for the dedication of this new school. The CLC has recently provided financial assistance to register the school. Once this has been completed, Pastor Kossi will be able to continue to train future pastors without government interference or any other churches or school causing him problems. This has been a long time coming and it will be exciting to see this plan come to fruition. 

For more information about our work in Togo, go to: www.lutheranmissions.org/nation/togo/

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sent to West Africa...

Tomorrow I leave on the first of many trips overseas to visit, train, and encourage fellow pastors as we all strive together to be faithful preachers and teachers of God's saving word.

This first trip will take me to the West African countries of Togo and Nigeria with possible visits to Ghana and Benin as time permits. 

I have been reminded of a Proverb and an important truth several times over the past couple of weeks as I prepared for this trip...
“A man’s heart plans his way, 
But the Lord directs his steps.” 
Proverbs 16:9 

Let me explain...when I accepted this new call back in the end of October, I knew that one of my first trips would be to West Africa. I thought to myself that I wouldn't have any trouble making these plans and preparations since I've been there before and I've been making trips to our overseas contacts and churches annually for the past 17+ years. Well, I thought I had all my ducks in row, my i's dotted and my t's crossed. I sent off my Nigerian visa application with more than enough time to get it back and then send in for my Ghana visa. I was feeling pretty good about saving money by not going through a visa service that charges hefty fees. Well, 10 days passed, and then 14 days, and then three weeks came and went and we had to cancel a family vacation to visit our grand-daughter because if my visa came while we were gone, I wouldn't have time to get it sent back to the Ghana embassy for the visa. When it didn't arrive nearly a month, I decided to call Mr. Martin Essien who happens to be in the U.S. from Nigeria. We had met for a couple of days in January when he was in St. Louis for business. He wasn't sure what he could do, but said he would make a couple of phone calls. A few hours later he called to double check my passport number and visa application number. The next day Martin called to tell me that his contact in the Nigerian Embassy was able to retrieve my application from a pile of applications that were part of a "diplomatic delay that were being held as immigration negotiation leverage." Apparently, the U.S. government and the Nigerian government had been in the middle of negotiations of a reciprocating five year visa program. We speculate, that when President Trump signed the executive order on immigration, the Nigerian government got nervous and decided they might need some "leverage." Anyway, long story short, I had my Nigerian visa in hand the next day. It was still too late to get my Ghana visa, but I was able to change my flights with very little difference in schedule and I will now fly into Togo where I can get my visa upon arrival. I will then go to the Ghana embassy in Lome, Togo and get my Ghana visa there. 

In the end, the Lord's will be done as I get ready to begin the privilege of being about my Father's business in Togo and Nigeria.