Remaining Faithful During the Hard Times

Richard Chowning, June 2000 Report


One Sunday, June 25, several congregations gathered at Numovihoue (NU-mow-vee-hwey) in honor of Tod Vogt.  We sat on benches under the shade of two towering trees.


The rains came very late in this area of Aja.  Much of the corn has died in the eight villages where congregations are located.  All of the Christians who gathered will soon be faced with selling some of last year's crop to plant again, or selling livestock or palm trees to buy corn.  We are beginning to make plans to help them, but we also realize their faith can grow during the hardship.    Satan will tempt them to sacrifice to the gods. 


When I was asked to speak I tried to encourage them to remain faithful during the hard times.  I said:


The gods have no mercy on the Aja people.  The rain makers said they would withhold the rain unless they were paid.  According to the gods' priests the rains were late because they had somehow offended the gods.  They were told to sacrifice chickens and sheep to the gods.  The coming scarcity of food will raise the risk of children to become ill - children who are already suffering from malnutrition.  The gods will demand more sacrifices to heal the children. 


When Jesus stared death in the face, he begged the Almighty God to deliver Him from the pain he was about to suffer on the cross.  God heard Jesus' prayer, but He was nailed to the cross.  Did God abandon His Son?  Was the cross some sort of punishment for His sin? 


At just this point in my lesson, I heard a bell clanging behind me.  A saw the Christians' eyes follow the source of the ringing.  Then, three men walked by to the left of me.  The one in the lead tapped out a rhythm on the bell.  He was followed by a man clad only with shorts and chicken feathers that were plastered onto his body in several places.  A live chicken and a bundle of reeds were slung over his shoulder.  He was on his way to make a sacrifice to one of the gods, hoping that it would solve some problem in his life.


Some of the younger Christians began to laugh at the man.  "We should cry for him," I said. "He is lost.  The sacrifice will only make his problem worse."


Sometimes, Aja Christians must feel that God's solution is not working.  They, and we, must be firmly convinced that the solution to our biggest problem, separation from God, has already been solved by Him.  He loves us and is always working for our good, whether or not we understand it. 


God's answer to Jesus seemed to be "no."  But, God's will was accomplished.  The greatest gift we could receive came through suffering. 


The Numovihoue (NU-mow-vee-hwey) Christians served us lunch and we went on to a meeting at the new congregation at Egahoue (eh-GAH-hwey).  This congregation was planted by evangelists from the Badjame (BAH-jaw-may) congregation.  We were surprised to see that they had already built a large brush arbor for their meetings.  After that meeting ten people were born again.  The Kingdom continues to go forward among the Aja.  There is a hunger for the things that last.  The Lord is filling them.  There are now twenty-four congregations among the Aja.  The first one was planted only twenty-five months ago.  Praise the Lord.


Prayer Requests:

  1. Pray that we, and the Aja Christians, respond as the Lord desires during the hardships caused by the loss of so much corn.
  2. Pray that Heather Hicks continues to gain strength.  She was hospitalized in Cotonou for five days last week with a severe case of malaria.  She is home now, but very weak.
  3. Pray for the interns from Homewood and ACU who are now with us.  Pray that they will understand what it is like to serve here and will become convicted to become full-time missionaries somewhere in Africa.