Home > Andrew's Blogs, Mango Mission > Dead Batteries, Fetishes, Coca Cola, & Church Buildings

Dead Batteries, Fetishes, Coca Cola, & Church Buildings

Update # 17 from ABWE Missionaries in Mango, Togo – Northern Hospital Outreach. March 22, 2009

It’s 7:00 Sunday evening, and they just cut the power.  We see lights in other parts of the city, so hope that we won’t be without for long.  But in the heat, and with the humidity building, I’m starting to drip.

The weather news this past week includes a storm, with rain showers on Tuesday night.  That dropped temperatures dramatically, and we had a restful night of sleep (the first one in a long time).  It has returned to the normal hot days (100+) and nights (in the 90’s), but the break for even one night was certainly welcome, and, we think, a preview of what is to come.

We drove to Dapaong on Saturday for the dedication of the Tamboang church building, and I apologize for failing to take my camera. The electrical system on our car has been draining the battery, and that distracted me to the point where, when we left, we didn’t think about the camera.  I’ll try to paint a word picture for you.

The battery was too weak to start the car, but with our battery system in the house, I was able to jump-start it with cables.  We had a leisurely trip to Dapaong, and had dinner with Pastor Laré.  Rita and Ama, two ladies in the church, came to his place to prepare it for us. We then drove them out to Tamboang, where they spent a short night, and got up around 4:00 a.m. to prepare lunch for all those invited to the festivities.  We spent the night at the Lutheran seminary guesthouse, and got up at 5:30 to have a quick breakfast and then drive into town to pick up the people who were to ride with us out to Tamboang.  The battery was stone dead.  I had hoped that by parking on an incline, I could push start the car, but even that didn’t work.  Fortunately the director of the seminary was present, and he called his mechanic, who came over with a battery to see if we could start the car with my booster cables.  There wasn’t enough juice to overcome our dead battery, so this good man pulled our battery out, and put his in.  Not as easy as it sounds, since his battery was much larger (looked like it was made for a truck).  He had to remove the bracket that held a number of relays, but had it done within ten minutes.  We got the car started, removed his battery, and replaced it with our dead one.  All the extra activity made us a half-hour late, but that is no problem in a country where hardly anybody wears a watch, or even has a clock in the house. He loaned me his wrench so I could disconnect the battery cables once we reached Tamboang, and after the service, I was able to start the car right up.  That confirmed to me that our problem was not with the battery, but with something that is draining it.  Our mechanic here in Mango will try to find the problem tomorrow.

Pastor Laré gave a short history on how we came to be in Tamboang, and how the church was built (without missionary money!).  He said they spent 172,000 francs (about $350), and Christians in the area gave it all.  It was my privilege to preach, and I knew that most of the people in the crowd had no knowledge of the gospel.  This was, for them, more of a social occasion, and of course, they were all excited to have a new building.  I took for my text, Matthew 16:13-17, which shows that our view of Jesus is crucial to our eternal destiny.  People in Jesus’ day were confused about his identity, just as many are today.  Muslims see him as a great prophet, and the crowds in Jesus’ day saw him as John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.  But Jesus is much more than any of these great men.  He is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and unless we understand and believe that, we are lost, still in our sins, and on our way to an eternal hell.

Following the meeting, we were served lunch, and the VIP’s were all invited into the church building, where we were served rice and sauce with beef, and corn pâte with a fish sauce, cooked with leaves from a local tree, and the ubiquitous Coca Cola as our beverage, served on ice.  They really pulled out all the stops.  We had a number of local government officials with us, and I was delighted when Nogbedji asked if they would explain to him what their customs dictate they do with the first fruits of the harvest.  They explained to him that they are required to offer them to the ancestors, since surely the spirits of their ancestors need to eat.  They then asked him about the customs of the Ewe people (Nogbedji is Ewe), and he said that he grew up with similar customs.  It was completely forbidden for them to eat the first part of the harvest, as that was reserved for the spirits of the fetishes and ancestors.  He then asked them if they would like to see what the one true God has to say about all of this, and when they gave their assent, he took them to Exodus 20:3-5, which forbids worship of anything or anybody apart from God Himself, and pronounces a curse on those who do so, even to the third and fourth generation.  I’m not sure about the validity of his exegesis, but he made a good point when he said that Africans work hard, but continue to suffer in deep poverty.

He believes this poverty is God’s judgment on their idolatry, and then testified how he broke the curse for his own children, but turning from idols to serve the living and true God.  Neatly done, in a culturally appropriate way, and nobody went away angry because of his witness for God.  He gave them good food for thought, sowed the seed of God’s Word, and perhaps someday we may find some who will follow Nogbedji’s good example.

I suppose I shouldn’t have done it, but couldn’t resist asking the elders in the room for the meaning of the name, Tamboang.  They discussed it a bit among themselves, and then said they believed it was a name given when Moba warriors ambushed marauding Tchokossi cavalry, and drove them and their horses over the cliffs that tower above the valley.  I then told them that Béni, a Tchokossi brother was there in the room with them, and that he had come as a friend because of Jesus Christ.  Their ancestors had fought a bitter war in which many lives were lost, and here they were together in the same room, all because of Jesus.  Béni looked a little nervous, (there has been violence between the two tribes as recently as the 1990’s) but everyone smiled broadly, and the point was made.

On Friday, Esther and I drove to Kara to visit Sister Kiméwalu, and in our opinion, she appeared to be quite tired, and not always following the conversation.  Mme Lomdoh has been visiting her, and said that they were both tired of talking about her illness.  So she has taken to reading the scriptures with Kiméwalu, which has been a big encouragement for her.  We continue to pray.

If the Lord allows, we hope to sign papers on the property for the Wendell Kempton Medical and Ministry Center on Thursday.  We will certainly let you know how that comes out.

Yours in His service,

Tim & Esther Neufeld

  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: