Two frogs and Nineteen Baptisms

Chowning Report – April 23, 2000


                Two dead frogs and a sorcerer could not stop the eighteenth congregation from being planted.


                At the very first meeting, I noticed the dead frog hanging from a six-inch string on one of the lower branches of the tree under which we met.  It was really dead, old dead.  The crusty frog was there for the first four weeks that we met in Kansouhoue (kahn-SU-hway).  Many people gathered to hear the gospel.  They listened well and asked questions after every lesson.  By the fourth meeting they said they wanted to become Christians.  We, and the Aja Christians from Kadahoue, thought they did not quite understand enough to make such a life changing decision.  So, we expressed our joy at their desire to become God’s people and told them we wanted to meet with them a few more times before they would be baptized.  While we waited for the fifth meeting to begin, I noticed that another frog had been added to the string.  Now the pair watched over our meetings. 

                Two weeks later the villagers were ready and we agreed that they would be baptized the following Monday.  When we arrived, we waited, and waited.  The two frogs were the only ones sharing the shade of the tree with us.  We were miffed.  This was to be the day fifteen people were to be born again and the village was shunning us.  It was obvious that someone of authority, possibly the one who was putting the frogs in the tree, was forbidding or discouraging the new believers from becoming Christians.  I had a strong feeling that it was the sorcerer, Devi, who was attempting to prevent the Kingdom from penetrating this village.  We left discouraged, but we left word that we would return the following week.

                When we returned it was a long time before a few people gathered.  They said there was no problem.  There was a lot of work to do in the fields.  We were not convinced, but we listened and presented a short lesson.  “Next week we will be ready to be baptized,” they said.  When that day came, it was obvious people were excited, but they were also nervously looking and glancing at other villagers.  They were about to do something that some of their relatives were not happy about.  At the river, twelve of them were baptized into Christ after they confessed their faith and pledged not to worship the gods.  Then six days later, seven more were born again.  The dead frogs still hang in the tree.  There still may be some in the village who are not excited about the Kingdom coming among them.  However, these new Christians have erected a brush arbor and are growing daily in their faith.  Continue to pray for these new brothers and sisters.


Cluster-wide Meeting

                In the church growth study, I mentioned that clusters of congregations had begun to meet periodically.  Two months later and these cluster meetings are entrenched in two areas of Aja.   The congregations rotate in hosting the Sunday morning worship meeting.  Three congregations near Aplahoue (Kaiteme, Koyohoue, and Dekpo) have been meeting together once each month.  So have eight congregations in the Kisame and Lonkli districts (Badjame, Dadohwi, Dandjihoue, Eglime, Numovihoue, Gbakonu, Keletume, and Takpaciwome).  Between 150 and 250 have attended meetings in this second cluster.  These meetings are boosting the enthusiasm and unity of the whole movement.   Challenging lessons and rousing worship is enjoyed by all of the Christians.


Preaching Points

                The preaching point at Gbanate continues and is about to become a congregation.  Many were ready to be baptized today.  A twelve year old boy had died early in the morning, so they put off the baptisms until next week.  Pray for the faith of the more than twenty people who are ready to be born into the Kingdom.


Leaders Meeting

                Forty leaders from sixteen of the eighteen congregations attended a leadership meeting the 21st and 22nd of April (leaders from Hungba and Eglime were missing).    The leaders set the date for the meeting, but asked that we missionaries do the teaching.  They wanted more teaching on “how to understand God’s Word.”  So far, there are only a few books of the Bible available in the language of the Aja.  Most of these new Christians do not know the scope of God’s revelation to us.  They know even less about how the Bible is organized.  Three basic lessons were given.  The first was a condensed survey of God’s dealing with humans from creation through the early church.  This was followed by a presentation of the structure of the Bible and brief description of the content of each book.  Finally, examples were given of the different genre of literature found in the Bible and how each should be understood.