NOTES FROM THE FIELD
In this series, those involved with CLC foreign missions profile one aspect of our overseas endeavors.
In my last Spokesman article (“Goats for God,” March 2021) I talked about how we have helped the Mission Évangélique Luthérienne de Confession du Togo (MELC) purchase land north of Lomé on which to raise crops and livestock to support the work here in Togo, West Africa. Since then, the two-room house for caretakers has been completed, a full-time caretaker has moved in, and a barn with adjoining pen has been built for the livestock. The number of hens has grown from an initial seven to around thirty, and there are three roosters. There are now four female goats and three males. Recently Pastor Kossi Blewu purchased two ewes. And there is now a new puppy on the land to serve as a guard dog. Pastor Blewu also wants to raise guinea fowl (a common food here), turkeys, rabbits, pigeons, ducks, and geese.
The real work of the church, however, is not to raise goats or sheep, but to train shepherds who will “turn goats into sheep” (Matthew 25:31-45), and who will equip the church members to do the same. To that end, work began in May, with support from the Mission Development Fund (MDF), to construct a roof which will serve as the foundation (so to speak) of a church and seminary building. Also under construction is a two-room lodging for Pastor Blewu and me, as we will travel from Lomé each week to spend two or three nights on the land to teach the next group of seminary students, starting (Lord willing) this October. You can find videos of the progress online at bit.ly/petertogo.
We have not yet finalized the roster, but Pastor Blewu estimates we will have about ten new seminary students, including his younger brother. Most live in the area, but two have been working with Deborah Awudu (see the October issue of The Branches magazine) to establish a preaching station at her home in Lomé, and they will travel up to the land each week for classes.
Pastor Blewu is now hosting a radio program from 5:00-6:00 A.M. in a village about thirty minutes south of the land. Many people in the area have called in and there is a need to start an MELC church there. One man who heard Pastor Kossi now wishes to join our classes and study to become a pastor.
While Togo is a very “Christianized” country, there are many open doors and a great need for faithful preachers of God’s Word. Mr. Agbayi, one of the current six seminary students, has commented more than once that other churches here do not distinguish properly between the Law and the Gospel. This is something we have focused on in our classes, as it is so important for a correct preaching of the Good News. The so-called “prosperity gospel” is also very common here and across Africa. That is why sermons that focus not on earthly blessings or on what one must do as a Christian, but rather on what God has done for us in Jesus stand out. Our goal is to train pastors to clearly and gladly proclaim the Good News that our sins are all freely forgiven because of Jesus’ death and resurrection—a truth that is often not plainly preached in the many other churches here.
Pray that the current four pastors, the six students who are soon to finish their studies, and the future students will all be faithful preachers of God’s Word, and that God will convert many condemned “goats” into saved “sheep” through their work.
Peter Evensen is a full-time foreign missionary for the CLC.