Thursday, June 12, 2014
At last year’s assembly of the Pendjari District, Benin, a country in West Africa, the leaders asked for someone to volunteer to serve as a missionary to the unreached north area of their neighboring country of Togo.
A young pastor named Apolli raised his hand.
The district was only one year old, but started off with 400 organized churches. It had branched off from a previously existing district that covered both Benin and Togo and had grown to more than 1,000 churches. Thus, it became too big to effectively manage. It divided into five districts, of which the Pendjari District is one, said missionary Tim Eby.
In Benin and Togo, there has been very rapid church growth in recent years through many teams of Nazarenes showing the JESUS film and inviting viewers to accept Christ, and through the training of leaders and intentional discipleship of new believers. All of this development has been made possible through the global giving of Nazarenes to World Evangelism Fund (WEF).
That’s why the Pendjari District launched with a sense of mission in its DNA.
When Apolli agreed to serve as the district’s first missionary, the gathering immediately raised an offering to provide his transportation, and the women’s ministry collected a month’s supply of food to send with him. The JESUS Film Harvest Partners ministry gave him a backpack that included everything he would need to show the film depicting the life of Jesus Christ to interested people.
Along with his family, Apolli began the journey to northern Togo, not knowing how he would earn an income after the offering ran out, where his family would live or how he would get around.
“This is a pastor that has only basic training but has been part of the church there nurtured by the leaders,” said Eby. “Even though he’s not highly educated, he has the true Spirit of God in him. They sent him and the miracles that have happened have been unbelievable. It’s a place that has never heard the true gospel. The [people] are converting en masse.”
Apolli and his family entered an area that was heavily animistic, meaning the people worship idols and fear spirits. Their beliefs have also mixed with other traditional religions, creating a great deal of syncretism. Yet, they were ready and open to hear the gospel.
Within six months, Apolli had planted 23 churches. The new believers embraced him, providing a house to live in, and giving him a bicycle, because they wanted him to travel to more villages to share the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. The new believers have also provided the family with food every day.
“World Evangelism Fund brings about a cooperation between the districts; it brings about a call of sacrifice that everybody can contribute. Even to the smallest church in West Africa, we expect every church to contribute to the WEF. We see them catching that missional idea,” said Eby. “Our international funds have helped to support the education, have helped to provide discipleship and evangelistic materials. WEF is helping us to lay the ground work in those districts so that today we have a district ready to send their own missionary. I don’t think that would have happened if we hadn’t consistently supported these leaders.”
Watch the video and considering sharing it with your local church.