NOTES FROM THE FIELD
In this series, thoseinvolved with CLC foreign missions profile one aspect of our overseas endeavors.
Up until the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in A.D. 70, two goats were offered on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur): one as a sin offering to God and one as the “scapegoat” to carry the people’s iniquities away into the wilderness (see Leviticus 16). These two goats together pictured how the sacrificial death of Jesus has paid for and taken away our sins. While we no longer offer sacrifices of goats since Christ, the perfect, one-for-all Sacrifice has come, goats can still be useful for the kingdom of God.
The Mission Evangelique Lutherienne de Confession du Togo (MELCT) here in Togo, West Africa, has purchased twenty acres about fifty miles north of the capital of Lomé (where I live). The goal is to build a seminary and church on this land (the Mt. Horeb Lutheran Bible Institute currently meets at the main church in Lomé), and to use the land to raise crops and animals to generate income and become a self-supporting church body. The funds from crops and animals will be used to plant new churches, harvest souls for God’s kingdom, and to provide for the support of current pastors and the training of new pastors. The churches here, as is often the case in the churches outside the US, are not able to provide their pastor enough support to live on, so the hope is that this land can provide funds to make up the difference and allow the pastors here to focus full-time on their work of planting God’s Word and harvesting in God’s kingdom.
Pastor Kossi Blewu, the head pastor in Togo, says it is not good to be constantly looking to the CLC-USA to provide funds, and to always be dependent on aid from the US. Pastor Blewu dreams of not only becoming financially independent, but of being able to fund work outside of Togo in other countries. It is with this goal and dream in mind that he purchased and is developing this land.
The initial focus was on planting crops, such as yams (a staple here, more like our regular potatoes than a sweet potato), beans, corn, cassava, peanuts, and rice. In 2019 they had a small crop of yams, peanuts, and beans. Much of the harvest was retained (rather than sold) to provide seed for this past year. Unfortunately, with 2020 being 2020, Togo has not received much rain, and so the land did not produce very much. This has motivated Pastor Blewu to shift the focus to raising animals, specifically goats, as animals don’t depend on rainfall. In addition to having built a small two-room building on the land as a place for caretakers to stay, he has overseen the construction of a roofed pen in which to begin raising goats. It may take a couple of years for the goats to become profitable, but by God’s grace, the goats will start to provide income to further fund the work here in Togo.
This year we hope also to construct a classroom and to begin having seminary classes on this land. There are seven to ten students from around the area who are eager to begin studying. The pandemic has delayed our plans somewhat, as classes with the current six students in Lomé have been on hold since March. Lord willing, we will be able to complete their training soon and begin teaching the next group of students in the new building on the land.
As the goats sacrificed in the Old Testament pointed to Jesus, so may these goats allow the pastors and students here to point to Jesus as the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.
Peter Evensen is a full time foreign missionary for the CLC.