Faith Baptist Church of State College, Pennsylvania

Contemplating in Coutonou

I had the privilege of participating in a Tri-M conference in Coutonou, Benin, from Monday, February 18th to Saturday, February 23rd. There were 33 men present from Togo and Benin (16- Togo and 17- Benin). I taught the books of Joel, Amos, Jonah and Hosea, and our missionary covered the remainder of the Minor Prophets. Each of the four teaching sessions was one and one-half hours in length (9:00-10:30 am).  One pastor translated into French. In addition I taught the Minor Prophets, another taught a course on hermeneutics.  How joyous to be part of such a vibrant ministry of the Word of God! Contemplating the experience, I would like to comment on what I saw:

First, I saw a great hunger in the men to be trained servants of the Word. Even though the men were sleepy and hungry at times, they were very attentive to the teaching of the Word. Their attentiveness spilled over into their inquisitiveness as they asked question after question. (Note: On one occasion when I did not allow time for questions, the men were visibly disappointed, and I dare say upset!)

Second, I saw a great need to train these men in the Word of the Lord. These men amply demonstrated a willingness to work in the harvest field of souls, but they lack serious and systematic training "in the faith once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). For them to teach/preach and thus "equip the saints unto the work of service" (Eph.4:12) they first must be taught/equipped. I see a vital need of the Tri-M ministry in the training of these men. (Note: The Togolese men kept asking me, "When are we going to have this in Togo?")

Third, I saw a great honor in just being with, let alone teaching, these dear brothers. I was reminded of Paul's description of Epaphroditus, "my brother, and fellow worker and fellow soldier" (Phil. 2:25). I was impressed by their steadfastness in serving the Lord in spite of their tangible struggles. Here were so many brothers who have so little, yet are doing so much for the Lord of the Harvest. While thinking upon the testimony of their lives, I was often reminded of Heb. 11:38, "men of whom the world [is] not worthy."

Fourth, I saw a great reward in the glorious task of "following Jesus and fishing for men" (Mt. 4:19). While talking with a pastor one day about how God would use these men in the lives of many in West Africa (and, thus, the joy of sharing in that fruit-bearing, II Tim. 2:2), I thought of those men that God used in my life to teach me to "follow and fish." While many came to mind, I recorded in my journal one in particular. This one invested in my life and was now reaping spiritual dividends as God was using me to invest in the lives of these West African brothers.

In closing, I saw the great Savior who is building His beloved church in West Africa. What a joy to see the Lord of the Harvest at work through the preaching of the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit. What a blessing to see local churches being built by the Word of His Grace, local assemblies that are vibrant witnesses to the truth that Jesus came into this world to save sinners (I Tim. 1:15).

In Christ,
Pastor Drew