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The Light Has Come!

There are very few options for light during the night in West Africa because there is no reliable source of electricity. It's especially hard in rural areas, though even in the cities the electric service is notoriously erratic. The impact is significant.

For example, the lack of good light means most students struggle to do their schoolwork at night. They must use the flickering light of hazardous wood fires or oil lamps, while others use the rapidly exhausted light of a cell phone, or study under a street lamp in their town if the power is on. Students, teachers, and pastors cannot study at night, workers must stop working and even healthcare comes to a halt where there is no light.

Spiritual darkness
But the spiritual darkness of West Africa is far worse. To paraphrase Isaiah's words (above), thick darkness covers the nations and peoples. Islam and animistic religions (and often a blend of both) have a powerful hold on the vast majority of the people.

Yet the darkness is not total. There is light! God's Church is alive and holding out the light of the gospel of Christ, and many are coming to saving faith, drawn by the Light of Life. Here is one example as told by a missionary colleague who was there when the Light conquered darkness this past summer.

"The main purpose of the trip to the far southeastern corner of the country was to conduct Ebola awareness and evangelism among a largely unreached branch of a people group, one of the largest on the continent, and the largest nomadic people group in the world: the Fulani. At the end of the week, the mostly indigenous team paid what was to be a simple visit to a potential leader's home to meet his wife and extended family.

When the team asked how they could pray, the wife mentioned that they were unable to have children. She proceeded to confess to seeking out the marabout and that his suggested remedies had not helped. (A "marabout" is a dominant religion teacher and witch doctor all in one.) A couple of the national pastors in the group persuaded her to be rid of her fetishes and place her trust in God. She went in to her hut and brought out twine, a ring and some clothing and placed them before the team, who prayed over both her and her husband. He then burned the little pile of superstitious stuff as she watched her false hopes go up in flames, replaced by the new hope of the gospel."

Did you notice the role of the national pastors in the story? They led the conversation and prayer with this woman, not the missionary. That fact lies at the heart of our ministry because our work (like that missionary's) is about equipping the National Church to carry the light of the gospel to their own people.

Each national pastor trained, and each micro business started is another gospel lighthouse. No "under a bushel" candles there! The church in West Africa is spreading the light in effective ways extending to unreached people groups. And many are coming to the Light of Jesus.

"The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light:
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shined."
Isaiah 9:2

*Name withheld for security purposes. 

Richard*, Reflection Apr 24, 2016
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