A Tale of Two Stories
I begin with my brother Valentin Iloga, a Methodist pastor in Thies, Senegal. We had begun our conference spending the day focusing on the necessity of being intimate with God on a consistent basis. It was an amazing time of looking at scriptures that reminded us of our need to be in His presence, and that His love compels us to be intimate with Him. As we were closing the program for the night, Valentin stood up and told a story. He said that just prior to coming to this conference he had to bury a pastor. He was called to the house when the pastor had died and found that he was locked in his own room and was standing as a corpse. No cause of death could be found. Valentin followed up doing his pastoral duty by spending time with the family of the deceased. He learned that the pastor had been separated from his wife for several months and they were actually living in separate places. He then told a shocking story, that a young boy in the pastor’s church had actually confronted him and said, “If you don’t repent of your sin, you will not see the end of April.” Amazing that God would use a little boy to spur a man in need to repent. We are compelled and constrained by the love of our Father to spend time with Him. People who are struggling in sin need to surrender and return to the Father and know that He is longing to redeem and forgive.
Christophe Dembele stands at least 6’5” tall but seems to be 6’7” when I stand next to him. As we spent almost two hours meditating on Psalm 63, he shared with the group that as the war that is currently raging in his country, this Psalm is what has truly given his people hope. Psalm 63:7,8 says, “Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.” It is astounding to me the perspective you gain when you sit at the feet of these men and women of God who are enduring incredible difficulties and yet remain steadfast in following the Lord. Guns blaring, people dying and yet the Word of God will not return void. I’m grateful and humbled to be right here in a stifling hot country with ten of the most committed and passionate French speaking Africans who long to win their world for Christ.