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French, Fervent, and Faithful

A few years ago, while Missionary David Koenig and I were visiting pastors around India, we happened to come across two pastors who could not have been more different in some respects. One was young and bouncing all over the place, full of ideas and dreams, restless and eager to serve the Lord. The second was an older man whose character was similar to molasses. He wasn’t lazy—far from it—but watching him get up from his chair was enough to put a man to sleep. And yet both of these men served the Lord in their own way. And the Lord used both in His own way. It would be impossible to say that one of these served the Lord better than the other.

After a week in Togo with Kossi Blewu, it is quite obvious that he more closely resembles the first of these. Kossi Blewu lives in Lome, Togo, on the western coast of Africa. He speaks Ewe, French, and English just well enough to translate for me. He met Missionary David Koenig in 2001. Although Kossi was already a pastor at that time, Missionary Koenig taught him a better understanding of Christian doctrine, and Kossi gladly joined in fellowship with the CLC. To this day, whenever I visit, Pastor Kossi asks after the health of his “Father Koenig.”

At that time, Pastor Kossi had a single small congregation. Now his main congregation numbers more than 120, and he has started five more preaching stations in and around Lome, Togo. He has also crossed the border in both directions. On one side of the border, he has taken under his wing a pastor from Ghana and his congregation, training them in Lutheran doctrine and practice. On the other side of Togo, he has begun steps to establish a preaching station in Cotonou, in the country of Benin.

Kossi’s heartfelt desire is to fill Togo with Lutheran churches. He is constantly reminding me that they are the only group of Lutheran churches in Togo. This isn’t literally true, since the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod does work in Togo also, but it does show his zeal and desire.

Even given as much energy and desire as Kossi has, seven preaching stations are too many for one man. Kossi is aware of this and is eagerly training young men to help him. He currently has seven young men, including the pastor from Ghana, whom he is training to help him serve the Lord in the work of the ministry. It is mainly to help him in this work that I spent a week in Togo not long ago. In the past we have held seminars covering various doctrinal differences between Lutherans and other churches: Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, fellowship, and so on. This year we attempted to do a brief overview of the Scriptures using Pastor John Schierenbeck’s instruction course, Shadows and Substance. In the week I had to teach them, we finished most of the Old Testament lessons. I promised I would plan a couple of extra days on my next visit so that I can complete the Old Testament lessons and teach the twelve New Testament lessons as well.

Kossi and the students were very eager to learn more, begging me to stay longer. When I told them that was not possible, they said that I must come back quickly and teach them more. This I was able to do when, by God’s grace, I returned to visit them in June of this year.

Matthew Ude is a full-time CLC missionary to Africa and India. He and his wife live in Chennai, India.