Well, I'm back from the holidays and they really were a meaningful time of celebration. We of course missed all of our friends and family who are far away from us, but we still found joy in this season.
Our year began with not only the first water well rehab for the Dagara mission, but also our first major planning conference for Dagara evangelists. The leaders of all the churches got together and hand picked 8 individuals who came for an intense 4 day seminar. During that 4 day seminar I tried to teach them about holiness from idols, lust, anger, drunkenness, and gossip, how to study the bible and develop lessons from a specific scripture with an emphasis on life application, and gave them lesson series to use for evangelism, and another for church maturation, another lesson on service, one on involving new members and one on family counseling.
We talked about how their evangelism strategy should be different from mine. If I drive into a village, it doesn't matter how many years I've tried to assimilate, there were certain levels I was not able to reach. So I still drive in with my big noisy truck and I still have my white skin and I still have more money and education than they do. They're used to seeing foreigners from Europe and America like that, but I speak Dagara, a MIRACLE in their eyes, and that always draws a crowd. At first I thought this was a good thing, but I'm beginning to reassess the downside, which is that I get whomever happens to pass by that day. If it's a woman and her husband is not there or a man and his wife is not there, that causes division in families from the beginning. Here we are years later with 25 churches but most of them still have split families. The leaders and I talked about a two pronged strategy for dealing with this. On one hand they are praying about split families, particularly families where the wife comes but her husband does not with whom they can hold family evangelism meetings. On the other hand, as they go to a new village they will not worry about drawing a large crowd. In fact they will be seeking almost the opposite. They will start small with heads of households that are willing to call their whole family together for evangelistic meetings. The result, we hope, will be churches with whole families that will be stronger than the churches we currently have.
Both the teacher and the students were overwhelmed by God's grace and wisdom as we learned alot about him and each other. The leaders found the training on how to apply scriptures in lessons particularly helpful. One of them asked me, "why has it taken you so long to teach us this?" This response was both an indictment and an encouragement to me. Pray that these leaders will be able to take all this material and expand the kingdom in the areas where they live.
Because I believe that prayer is more than "psychological self-manipulation," (thanks Randy Harris) that is, I believe it actually works, I'm going to write here the names of new villages being targeted for the good news (Mogae, Nabalae, Na-irae-don, Yarfiin, Penza, Kpankpar, Nawn-marae-bagawn, and Nakpier). Here are names of heads of families that you can also be praying for that they receive the good news with peace and gladness (Zinyaw, Kofi, Duoru-ziyae, Gunu, Domoyaw, Kono-yaw, Kuon-irae, Kola, and Taku Sibiri). Don't worry about the pronunciation or spellings. I probably missed them too, but God knows for whom you are praying.