This week (June 21), my husband, Ron, will be leaving for Togo, (West) Africa. In case you haven’t heard of this tiny, French speaking country that is only about 35 miles wide, it is located near Ghana. That may not tell you much either. But enough clues are there for you to find it on a map.
Ron’s dream for his retirement was to be able to travel to different countries and be able to teach pastors and lay leaders in their countries the things they need to know to lead and teach their churches. Forty plus years in ministry has given some insights and living cross-culturally gave him respect and honor for fellow pastors who live in hard places.
Due to a number of factors, especially that of financial downturns each time we tried to “retire”. I’m talking major losses in our retirement funds, we won’t be self-financing our retirement to travel in the volunteer ways we would have liked. We have come to accept that reality for sure!
So what is the hard part about this trip? After all, I get to stay home.
- I don’t have to go with Ron on that long flight. ugh!
- I don’t have to be in the heat and around those malarial mosquitos. I won’t miss that!
- But I also don’t get to meet those delightful people! Have you ever met people who suffer? Muslim influence in their country is increasing along with persecution of Christians. They are joyful and happy in the Lord. When they get together to worship, it is a delight! They are glad to be with other believers. They understand the commonality of the gospel and don’t dwell on the irritating differences of others’ temperaments that clash with theirs at times.
The hard thing for me will be trusting GOD to protect Ron…and Steve (our pastor)…and Nathaniel (the Togo pastor who lives in the US, is liason for the group and does most of the planning and arranging) as they minister to these men. Trusting that nothing outside of GOD’s will for them will happen…and if anything bad does happen, then it will be for the better glory of GOD!
It was a special treat for Ron when this trip worked out for him so unexpectedly. He did need to raise over $3500. We were surprised and blessed by the outpouring of money and promises of prayer that came in from the few people we were able to send letters to. They were mostly from the last two churches that we served in Tyler, TX and Hanna City, IL. It was truly amazing…and very encouraging to say the least!
Now comes the hard part. Inoculations and most of the prep is done. His student notes are translated and in booklet form. Recently, there have been some plane crashes in Africa. (In Nigeria, I think.) A few days ago, we were notified that there has been some political unrest in the capital city and to stay away from any large groups of people. There is a flight that will be a very tight squeeze in Atlanta if both planes are on time. It will give ample opportunity for luggage to be lost with teaching materials and other supplies that will be needed.
Will he be safe? Will any of his health issues flare up? GOD only knows. It will be out of my hands. Once again, I will be forced to trust in GOD. It is a great place to be!
The temptation to worry looms large. There is more than enough to worry about! But GOD is bigger than all those events. I will trust Him to protect and bring them home safely…and if not, realize that His purposes are greater than my little plans for my life.
Please join me in prayer for these men as they minister and travel 6/21-7/4 in Togo. Pray for the Togo branch of GOD’s church to be encouraged as they teach these men who pastor and plant churches in a difficult place. It is His church after all. He is building it. We want it to thrive as the men there are encouraged and taught by GOD’s WORD!