On my recent LLC mission trip to Ghana and Togo I was joined by a fellow Canadian, Ari Mikkola, now of Haapajärvi, Finland. We both arrived on Good Friday
evening in Lomé, Togo and began our visits with the congregations on Saturday morning.
At those first services, two services guests received the grace of repentance. I marveled at the simple instruction given to them by the lady who hosted services. She had only recently been granted grace to believe and the most important matter that she wished to share with them was to remember to use the gospel. She didn’t want them to just wait for the ministers to come to hear the gospel, but to preach it to each other in daily life.
Using the Gospel
Preaching the gospel among believers to wash away sin on the journey was a theme that wove its way through the many service occasions and visits among believers on our trip. It was also the message that we needed to hear. This trip made us feel small before God in many ways.
On Sunday, after communion services in Lomé, we were joined by Jean Claude Maniragaba, from Rwanda. Jean Claude is the head pastor of his own church in Rwanda. The church consists of 12 different congregations and has around 700 members. He made initial contact with believers via email in October 2018. He received the grace of repentance on a trip to Kenya where he went to meet believers for the first time in person.
Ari and I spent Sunday evening visiting with Jean Claude at our hotel, learning about him and also about his call to God’s kingdom. Over the rest of the trip I watched how God helped our dear brother grow in grace. His initial priorities of learning how to conduct a proper church service that would be according to God’s Word changed to the fervent hope and prayer that God’s kingdom would remain in his home. And that together with his wife, they can teach their children by example to preach the gospel in daily life. It reminded me of Jesus’ parable of the treasure hidden in a field, where the finder of God’s kingdom saw how this was the single most important thing that had and would ever happen to him personally.
A Level-Headed Flock
On the last day of our trip, Jean Claude received a gift of two songbooks from the believers in Ghana. It was encouraging to see how the West African believers welcomed their Rwandan brother so warmly in the many places that we visited. He spoke of this often in his greetings to the congregations and in our visits. He has witnessed a love among believers that is unlike anything that he has seen before. He expressed that it is humbling to see how God’s kingdom is a level-headed flock and the servants of the Word need to live of the same gospel that they preach.
We openly wondered together what this means for the gospel work in Rwanda and whether there will be a time of visitation there. We all concluded that God has a plan for His work, but most importantly He has a plan for each of us that we can remain in faith by putting sin away as it besets.
Afternote: God blessed the first LLC-SRK mission trip to Rwanda (July 2019), when many were able to hear God’s Word preached for the first time and a number were granted the grace of repentance.