The Ministry of Jesus - Togo is a Christian ministry working in the country of Togo. We partner with the Togolese church, Ministère International de Jésus. The Ministry of Jesus primarily works in training African leaders but also is involved in such ministries as digging wells, improving agriculture, helping girls threatened by forced marriage, helping needy students and teaching primary health care. Gregg and Jayne Yarian currently direct the work of The Ministry of Jesus - Togo.
Last weekend, Jayne taught all day children's leaders in Gueruin Kouka all day Saturday and half a day on Sunday. The finale is the leaders presenting a lesson. Here is Jesus telling the disciples to cast the net out of the boat. They caught some pretty big fish.
The view of New Years Day morning from our steps. A holiday in Togo means eating a holiday meal and visiting friends and family. Foufou in the center for breakfast was the first of many meals. Everyone we visited in the morning fed us and then in the afternoon people brought us food.
Gilbert and Augustin were very excited about having the 667 junior high and senior high students at the Savannah Region youth camp experience the same joyful Bible competitions that they remember from their days at youth camps. It was wonderful to see another generation carrying on the great traditions.
What do you miss the most is an easy question. Now that they are grown and on their own, we miss our kids the most. We had a wonderful two weeks with Bekah and Mike and were able to travel the length of Togo to take Bekah to Dapaong, her childhood home, and to visit many friends.
Sometimes we are privileged to get leaders who are already well trained by their local churches. Cherita came to us from the church in Sotoubuoa where Pasteur Nakordja has been like a second father to her. Cherita was able to step right after only a month here and help lead the children's choir.
Our yearly dinner on the roof with the students in the center is one of our favorite evenings of the year. Nagbandjoa went over the rules for the center and explained how you have to advance in leadership to stay in the center. The girls prepared great adame sauce.
We talk a lot about leaders progressing. Often our first encounter with future leaders is our meal with new students. Our 4 new guys in the Kara Student Center are already well on their way to being solid church leaders.
Even in a seminar with over 100 students, some stand out. Augustin is an orphan who just graduated from high school. With a little help, he is trying to get his national ID so he can get support to go to the university. He sat on the front row during both seminars and soaked up everything like a sponge. And, what a worshipper. Tomorrow, I, Gregg, head to Sotoubuoa for 2 days of meetings with Nakordja.
We are in Dapaong ready for our first week of seminar for the university students. Please pray for Yendubuom, a young girls fleeing forced marriage who just arrived yesterday. Pray also for the safe arrival of everyone coming for the seminar and for our health and strength as we lead the seminar and the worship.
[08/26/17] After stopping in Atakpame to visit Pastor Jermie B and his wife, Tani, who is one week overdue with a very large baby, we stopped in Sotoubuoa to eat lunch with Pastor Nakordja's family before finally arriving safely in Kara. We are partially unpacked and looking forward to worshiping with the Kara church tomorrow.
[08/24/17] We've arrived safely back in Lome. On to Kara on Saturday and then on to Dapaong for the seminars next week.
Alhadji, lives directly across from our center in Kara. He is called Alhadji because he had made the "hadj" to Mecca. When we first moved to Kara he was quite opposed to our church and our students. Now, he says that if he became a Christian he would come to our church. He will now only hire our students because he has found them to be hard working and faithful. He especially admires Daniel who spends his spare time reading his Bible. We make it a point to greet him every day and to bring him small gifts when we travel. He has stated that he can't become a Christian because he would lose all his family and his friends. (He would also lose his position doing the prayer call at his mosque.) Alhadji sends gifts of food over to our students and gives money whenever anyone is in the hospital. Please pray that our Lord would draw Alhandji to himself. Jayne and I had a great first week in the US with several visits with our kids. Daniel and JoAnna are now on their way to Missouri.
The big news is that we arrived safely and healthy in the US on Tuesday afternoon. Now we get to share some of the pictures we never got to share. On Monday afternoon, just before we flew out, we met with Sena. Sena is The Ministry of Jesus' Moba Moses. His father, who was Moba, died when Sena when Sena was 2. By tradition, Sena should have gone and lived with his father's family. But, his mother, a successful cloth merchant from the South, kept him from his father's family. Sena received the best education Togo has to offer and he became a Christian while in grad school in France. Sena's church in Paris had a relationship with The Ministry of Jesus. One of our key churches is in Sena's father's village and it is also pastor Damigou's home village. One of my favorite Sena stories came as a response to a question to one of our top student leaders about what made him into such a strong leader. According to him, the fact that while he was in the Dapaong church in High School, Sena required such dedication and involvement from his leaders that the student didn't have time to do anything but study for school and be involved in church activities. He said he learned discipline and avoided the habits of worldly activities. We are hoping to visit Sena and his family in Normandy, where they are church planting, on our way back to the US next Spring.
Fousseni was in Jayne's first Bible Club over 20 years ago. This weekend he came to the seminar to learn how to lead children's ministries. He hasn't changed and still makes the skits come alive with his passion and humor. Last night he picked us up and took us to the airport. We gave him clothes to be washed and packages to be delivered to various persons as he drives our truck back to Dapaong. It is so great to have faithful people who are able to relieve much of the stress of traveling back and forth between two continents every year. We are now in the Paris airport on our way back to the USA.
On Saturday and Sunday, Jayne led a seminar for children's leaders from our Lome church, from our adopted sons Michel and Fousseni's church, and from our friend Clement's Bible Club. Now we have 24 hours before flying out on Monday night for our Tuesday return to the US. Please pray for our health, strength and safety as we travel. Also pray for the health, strength and safety of the many loved ones we will be leaving behind in Togo.
The women's group wanted to get together one more time before Jayne leaves. This women, who have overcome and who are overcoming incredible hardships, have learned to love and support one another. They are also learning to put their trust in Jesus. The meeting had a little extra excitement as one of the women had to leave to go to the hospital to have her baby. Ask Jayne sometime about another, "you don't want to go to an African hospital," experience.
8 people from Kara and 4 from Landa chose to publicly identify with Jesus' death so that they can joyfully participate in his resurrection. Baptisms at the river are always such a joy and it is wonderful to see young and old choose to follow Jesus. He is Risen! He is risen indeed!
We completed having the students come over for dinner by having both rooms of girls together. We changed the topic somewhat and discussed why so few girls make it to the university. The stories we heard were sad and touching. While parents will support the boys and the boys get fields to farm, the girls get almost know support. In fact, there is a very great pressure for theme to get a boyfriend, get married, and have babies. (Not necessarily in that order.) Our centers in Dapaong and Kara have already started taking in girls in Junior High School and High School. We really need to work harder to provide more opportunities for the many village girls in our churches. Please pray for the girls of the MIJ churches who so desperately need help and encouragement to continue their studies.
Jean is a neighbor, now in 7th grade, who lives two houses away from us. He lives with his single mom who works and pretty much roams the neighborhood as he pleases. Jean loves to come to our house and look out the window into the courtyard of his house. He comes for help with school, to eat lunch with us if his mom hasn't left anything for him, and just to talk and share life. Jean has won over our hearts and the hearts of many who have come to visit us. Just loving on people that God brings into your life is an important part of God's mission wherever you live.
Death is an ever present reality here. Attending funerals is a very important social obligation. That is why, Nagbandjoa, Claire, and I went to join many others at the funeral for Isaac Damobe. Isaac, the son of one of our former workers, was one of our students who graduated in nursing. Isaac's Mom, one of our faithful members in Dapaong, has now lost 4 children in infancy, her husband, and now her adult child. God has surrounded her with a loving community of believers and we believe that she will continue to find God faithful. Please pray for our African brother's and sisters who are faced with disease, death and loss on a regular basis.
This is our women's group at the MIJ church in Kara. We have been meeting twice a month. Women here have such hard lives! Most of the women in our group are young in their faith, and it has been exciting to watch them grow. Right now we are learning how to pray for our husbands. I have grown to love and admire these women who inspire me with their faith and courage.
Abraham's chief shepherd and Lot's chief shepherd fight while their sheep watch during the children's leaders training in Sotoubuoa last Sunday. While Jayne was teaching the children's leaders, I spend the time sharing ideas with Pastor Nakordja, the new MIJ president. For dinner, we all went to eat at Nandje's house. Nandje graduated from our student program with a masters degree in agronomy and now leads the agronomy department of one of Togo's largest businesses. He is also on the MIJ Board of Directors. He was really interested to talk about our training farm project.
Last Friday, we travelled to the Youth With A Mission base in Agou, in the southwest corner of Togo to see Immaculee graduate from the School of Disciples. We stopped in Sotoubuoa to pick up Pastor Nakordja and took him to Atakpame to visit Pastor Jeremie and his wife Tani. We continued to Agou with a stop in Palime to visit our dear friend, Clement and his wife. Clement, how is unable to walk because of polio, is involved in more Christian ministries than anyone I know. We continued in the rain and climbed up the winding mountain road to the YWAM base in he dark. We sent Immaculate to YWAM because she has one of the most difficult family backgrounds of anyone we have ever worked with and because YWAM is so good at the ministry of inner healing. We were not disappointed. The changes in Immaculee are amazing and we praise God.
Nagbandjoa and I went to Guerin-Kouka on Monday and Tuesday to do a seminar and meet with the leaders there. Nagbandjoa taught on the ministry of lay pastors and I taught on preaching grace and gospel instead of law and lists of dos and don'ts. In the evening, Nagbandjoa, who is now the regional leader for all of the Kara region, met with the key pastors to discuss the problems and plans for their region. We praise God that there is now someone like Nagbanndjoa with the heart and the skill to lead the village leaders of this key area. Jayne and I are off on Friday to the Youth With a Mission base in the south to see one of our members in Kara graduate from a Discipleship Training School. On Saturday afternoon we will return as far as Sotoubuoa and Jayne will finish her seminar for children's leaders in Sotoubuoa on Sunday. We' appreciate your prayers for safety and health.
Lea, the daughter of Pastor Nakordja, was born during our first year in Togo. She is now here in Kara with us while going to school. She started leading Children's Ministry in Sotoubuoa while she was still in Junior High School. Two weeks ago, she stepped in and helped Jayne do teacher training while Jayne was injured. This weekend she traveled to Sotoubuoa with us and taught two sessions. It won't be long before some of these leaders are leading the training sessions without Jayne.
Time to catch up on posting some of our activities while we were not able to post. I often dream of a "Beam me up Scotty" machine that would allow us to bring together our US friends and our Togo friends. A couple of weeks ago, we went to Lome and met the very special Kate Newgent from our US church. We did many years of home group with Kate's family. Kate came over from the Mercy Ship in Benin. We were able to do many things, including dinner with Nagbandjoa and Claire. We'd love for more of you to come and visit us.
There are many reasons to stand on a chair while teaching. This time it was while talking about the difference between tempting God and praying in faith. That discussion was during Sunday School. After church we had a seminar to continue our discussion of Creating a Community of Grace. One member came to me afterwards and said that he realized that he was much more law and religion oriented than he was gospel and grace oriented.
Once again climbing the mountain with the adolescent group from the Kara church. Just after we warned the kids that going back down was more dangerous than going up and to go slowly, one of the girls lost control and began speeding down the hill. She fell head over heels down the rocky slope. Somehow, miraculously, she got up with several cuts on her head and a giant lump on her forehead and walked the rest of the way down the mountain. Praise God. I'm not sure how many years it has been that I've been accused of doing things that are too dangerous with teenagers.
We've been off of Facebook for a while due to business, sickness and poor connections. I'm still not sure if these pictures are going to show up when I publish. Jayne recently injured her sacroiliac, an injury that first occurred almost 20 years ago. For a week, she had to lie down and was in pain if she stood or sat for more than a few minutes. Suddenly, on Saturday, while teaching a seminar for children's leaders, she went from lying down to sitting to standing and teaching. She taught or participated from 8-3. Praise God for a miraculous healing at just the right time.
Saturday and Sunday in Lome I led a seminar called "How to Create a Community of Grace." Grace vs. law is one of the hardest concepts for sinful human beings to grasp and there are elements of African culture that make it even more difficult. Our prayer is to see churches and leaders who are clearly recognized as full of God's grace. I will be in Lome until Scott Johnson and his team arrive on Friday and then we will head to Kara and then on to next week's seminar in Dapaong. Pray for Jayne and I as we are apart for a week and pray for all the people traveling for the seminar next week.
Pastor Nagbandjoa has been encouraging the cell groups to plan outreach events. Jayne's cell group went to the accident ward of the local hospital. They shared their faith and prayed for the sick.
This is a great article about an atheist who sees the great value of Christian change in Africa.
blogs.thegospelcoalition.org I've read exactly two articles by the British columnist Matthew Parris. An avowed atheist, I find Mr. Parris refreshingly honest and genuinely insightful. H
Funerals are a major component of Togolese culture. On Saturday, we drove 4 hours to the funeral of Bidenou' mother. (Bidenou is Pastor Nakpergou's wife and the director of the girls program. Because her father is a village chief it was a very big affair. We were not surprised at how much love was poured out on Nakpergou and Bidenou because they are two of the most caring shepherds we know. The 8 hour round trip was livened up by having Claire with us and with having two pastors from Guerin Kouka on the return trip.
Some of you have already figured out that the Palais de Congres is our favorite place to take people for picnics. After more than 40 years, I'm still loving working with Junior High School kids. Having leaders like Japhey and Celine Bamaze makes it a lot easier on the "young untiring one."
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