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Mango Mission # 6

Update # 6 from ABWE Missionaries in Mango, Togo – Northern Outreach.

Hospital Survey Team

Hospital Survey Team

December 18, 2008

I missed the Sunday letter as I was in Lome, and left the computer home with Esther. She complains that I monopolize the device, and that I don’t give her time to read or write e-mail. So some of you may have received an overdue letter from the better half.

A week ago Monday, the local population celebrated the holiday they call Tabaski. The celebration is in remembrance of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac, although most Muslims believe he offered up Ishmael. A lot of rams bit the dust, and in fact, we see flocks of Ewes and lambs wandering forlornly around the streets of Mango these days, with hardly a ram to be seen. I’ll try to include a photo or two from the aftermath of the massacre.

While taking Imam Abdoulaye’s blood pressure last Friday afternoon, I asked his grandson to explain the holiday to me. He was delighted to do so, and here is a free translation of what he said.

Abraham was married to a very old woman named Sarah. She was ninety years old, and had never had children. So Abraham asked God to give his wife a child, and promised that if God did, he would sacrifice his son. So God gave Isaac to Abraham and Sarah. Later on, God spoke to Abraham in a dream and reminded him of his promise to sacrifice Isaac. He told Abraham to go to Mt. Sinai in Arabia and to sacrifice Isaac there. So Abraham obeyed immediately and took Isaac to Mt. Sinai. When they got there, Abraham covered his eyes with a cloth as he prepared to cut his son’s throat, because he couldn’t bear to look. But just then the angel Gabriel came down from heaven with a ram and told Abraham to sacrifice the ram in Isaac’s place. Ever since that time God’s servants are supposed to sacrifice a ram in place of their own children.

The story is partially correct, although Muslim teaching actually holds that Ishmael, not Isaac, was the son that Abraham intended to sacrifice. The idea of a substitute is also there, so it would appear that we could use the holiday as a way to share how God provided a sacrifice for us in Jesus Christ.

Last week was mostly given to surveying the property we want to buy for the Wendell Kempton Memorial Christian Hospital. There appeared to be only one question to answer; how far back from the airstrip did we need to place our property line. We decided that 75 meters would certainly be a sufficient distance, and set several bornes or property boundary stones. We called down to the director of Civil Aviation in Lome, and set up an appointment with him for Tuesday morning, with the intention of making certain that we are far enough off of the runway. He was not very receptive, and said that they have plans to expand the airstrip and to enlarge the airport. He thought the location we had chosen was not a good one, and suggested that we look elsewhere. This is an airport that had exactly one plane land during the past year, and there appears to be no need for expansion, or anything else. We also doubt that they will find the money to do the expansion. I’m planning to talk with the mayor, and the Préfet (who originally suggested we look at this property). We do have another piece of land that looks as though it might work, but it’s not where we have direct access to the airstrip, and we were hoping for that. This also pushes back our timeline. Please pray. We trust the Lord to lead us to the best land. I’m also of the opinion that Satan can create hindrances, and perhaps this is from him, and not from the Lord. Paul, in writing in I Thessalonians 2:18 indicated that one of Satan’s strategies is to raise up roadblocks, with the intention of thwarting ministry plans. “For we wanted to come to you-I Paul, more than once-and yet Satan hindered us.” To the Ephesians Paul wrote that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces, and he told them to pray in the Spirit. Please pray with us, and let’s see what the Lord will do.

Christmas is only a week away, and for those of you who are tired of cold weather, Mango is the place to come. It was 95 degrees in the shade on our back porch this afternoon, and a whopping 118 in the sun, which is why we stay out of the sun as much as possible. The 95 degrees I can handle. Mango has a well-deserved reputation for being the hottest place in Togo. Tonight we saw Christmas lights in town. Yes, in a Muslim town, and in Muslim stores, they are selling Christmas lights and decorations. I know that theirs is a profit motive, but it is kind of nice anyway. One way or another, He is being remembered. And please do remember that Jesus is the reason for the season.

Wishing you a joy-filled Christmas,

Tim & Esther Neufeld

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