Helping Christian leaders prepare

Monday, January 29, 2018
Man, Dix-Huit Montagnes
When I woke this morning I was happy to feel good, there had been no gastro-intestinal issues during the night. I was ready to roll at 7:30, but the vehicle wasn’t, so I wandered into the breakfast room and had a slice of pineapple, a glass of ginger tea, and a cup of coffee. Breakfast is included in the price of the room, but I like to have coffee a pastry with the team that travels with me, and not be any more isolated than I have to due to my wifi needs.
Séussié arrived about 8:00 with Dosso and we drove through the main market of man to our usual cafe. The market is a fascinating place full of stands and hawkers selling more things than one can easily imagine: fruit and meat and shovels and stuffed animals and clocks and batteries and plastic hose and nails and shoes and clothes, in no particular order. There don't seem to be obvious sections of the market, though there probably is some sort of sorting. Pedestrians don't seem to notice when they're scraped by a car (or Pajero) inching past, they seem to have a feeling of invulnerability, and barely look askance. 
Paul had taken his son to his family’s house, and would join us as soon as he could. He called us just as we ordered our pain au raisin and coffee, so we ordered another for him. The terrace of the brioche d’or is now completely curtained off from the street, no doubt due to the dust. But that takes away the charm of the place. The interest in being here was in watching the endlessly fascinating road in front with its streams of colorful humanity part optimism, part cleverness, part resignation, part despair. I will have to think of a solution, perhaps find another café.
From the brioche d’or, we drove to a grocery store where I bought paper tablets and pens for everyone along with a bottle of mineral water and a pack of paper tissues each. We would all be mopping our brows before long. We then drove to a Catholic mission cybercafé where I printed a handout for everyone on my main topics for today and tomorrow. Then we headed back to the crossroad village, which I had never noticed before in all the times I’ve been through, is named Zele. In French, if you add an accent on both e’s, (Zélé) it means zealous. I quipped that the Bible tells us to be zealous, and others joined in noticing how zealous the people here appeared to be. Actually it’s a police checkpoint which means it’s a depressing place to be: non-stop corruption 24 hours a day. But we kept it positive and humorous.
The men were waiting, most had arrived the night before and stayed in hotel rooms which cost just about $8.00 per night. They all have ceiling fans which is much more than the men have in their homes.
We had provided coffee, bread, and butter, the preferred breakfast here, and would offer them a copious meal mid-afternoon. Those two meals are the desired combo, and not always attainable, especially the copious aspect. I distributed the 2018 church calendars, the new pocket holy day calendars, and the other conference items we had for them. They were delighted with the calendars especially, but also were happy that we’d thought about water and Kleenex.
We began at 9:30, two others were still traveling but there was no way to know when they would arrive. I asked God’s blessing on the seminars, and gave some introductory greetings and explanation. Then we started in on lesson two of our Christian Leadership Training Program, the title of which was Pride or Humility? It is an excellent presentation with a strong biblical foundation and thought-provoking material useful in every culture.
It was a fairly long presentation, I taught about three hours with a half hour break in the middle. There were many questions as we went along, some that had nothing to do with the presentation.
Here were some of the questions and the short version of my answers:
Q: What if someone is called but can’t be baptized before he dies?
My answer: God is working out His will and nothing can stop it. He can keep people alive as long as needed for that will to be accomplished.
Q: What if someone stops coming to church after being baptized, and dies before he comes back?
My answer: God only knows our hearts and where we stand with Him, He makes those judgements.
Q: What happens in a little church group if there is no baptized man present?
My answer: we would not allow a man not baptized to teach others in a Church meeting unsupervised by a minister.
Q: What if it’s in your family?
My answer: That is a family matter and a father is responsible for teaching his family. This is different from a formal church function.
Q: What if the man whose teaching brought you to the truth and church, disappoints you with his behavior and you become discouraged?
My answer: The Bible teaches: Let no man take your crown. People can disappoint us and will, but our relationship is to be with God first, and it is to Him that we are responsible.
At 1:15 we broke for lunch. Séussié had arranged with a local woman to prepare a big meal, chicken, rice and sauce. By this time I had a headache, so I decided to go to my hotel and rest for an hour or so during the hottest part of the day. We asked a blessing on the food, and then I asked everyone to reconvene at 4:00 so we could cover another topic. The worst heat is tapering off by that time.
On the way back to my hotel, we stopped to buy some detergent so I could wash out some clothes in the sink. Dosso and I also talked about the new traffic lights in Man, never seen before even before the civil war. A sign of progress!
I had a light bite and then rested in the air conditioning, catching up on some office work.
At 4:00 pm Dosso was back to take me over to the conference center. As I left my room, the fellow in the next room over was entering his room. He was an Ivorian with very good French, obviously well educated. I asked if it were he who had been sick the night before. He said yes, he had eaten a leaf sauce (sauce aux feuilles) for dinner and it made him very sick. He hadn’t slept well and still felt very weak. I wished him well, and felt relieved he hadn’t picked up the bug at the hotel.
At the center, we reconvened and I covered a topic that had been suggested as needful: the resurrections in the Bible. I went over scriptures for each and answered a few more questions:
Q: What about our ancestors that never knew about the Bible.
My answer: Like my ancestors that didn’t understand the Bible, they will come up in the second resurrection. And you may be there to take them by the hand and explain what is happening.
Q: But how will they see us; we’ll be invisible spirit beings?
My answer: Spirit beings can take visible form in accordance with God’s will. So we will certainly be visible at times.
Q: What if someone is called but can’t be baptized before he dies?
My answer: God is working out His will and nothing can stop it. He can keep people alive as long as needed for that will to be accomplished.
Q: What if someone stops coming to church after being baptized, and dies before he comes back?
My answer: God only knows our hearts and where we stand with Him, He makes those judgments; we don't need too.
Q: Will the lake of fire burn at the beginning or the end of the millennium?
My answer: the Bible indicated both. The beast and the false prophet will be cast in it at the return of Christ, and the impenitent will go in after the third resurrection. Perhaps it will burn all the way through the millennium as a sort of exhibit and reminder. I explained that in Jerusalem I had several times visited the Valley of Hinnom, which, based on Jesus’ description will be the location of the lake of fire. They found this fascinating.
Q: After the resurrection will we be in Jerusalem or will we be in our assigned areas to teach?
My answer: The Bible says when we see God we will be like Him. As spirit beings, we will no longer be limited by time and space, so we will no longer only have to be in one place at a time.
We finally stopped about 5:30 pm, and I said goodbye to everyone for the night. Dosso drove me to my hotel and I asked him to come tomorrow morning at 7:30 with Séussié.
At the hotel I had an avocado salad for dinner, and now will turn in earlier than I have been. Tomorrow will be another day of leadership training.


Clyde Kilough

Thanks as always for the updates! Very interesting and helpful in keeping us connected. Greetings to everyone you see from the office.

Ken Treybig

It's great to hear about the training going on there and especially interesting to hear the questions that are on their minds. Thanks for sharing.

Mary Hendren

Thanks for the interesting update and the questions that came up. It's always interesting to read the questions and the answers. We pray that your training sessions will bear good fruit and that you have the stamina needed to manage the heat. Good news about the traffic lights. Hope you find a cafe with nice street view.