Mount Vernon Nazarene University: Life Changing

2007 Summer Mission Trips

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Letters from Benin/MVNU- Grace goes ahead of us!
Date Submitted: May 2007

On Sunday night we said goodbye to the annual student team from Mount Vernon Nazarene University. We have a whole slew of stories I need to write up. Hereís just one of them.

Itís grace that's prevenient. Itís the grace that goes out ahead of us. Grace is the bridge, it empties, embraces, takes the blows and then stands up for more until repentance is followed by forgiveness.

I just spent a week in northern Benin in largely Muslim areas. We exposed our flanks and it was grace that went before us. On Wednesday, we arrived in a village called Lakpararu way off the beaten path. We quickly joined with the members of the fledgling church there in singing and dancing. One of their songs, "We praise the Creator of the whole world" and another one was "Praise Jesus who is the one who saves the whole world."

As we were dancing, the village chief and his council walked up and pulled aside the district superintendent and zone coordinator. I kept an eye on them, because you never know. Moise (ds) and Habib (zc) walked over to me and said the Muslim village chief can't believe you guys actually came to visit this village. He wants to give as a gift a piece of land to the Church of the Nazarene.

About 30 minutes later, while the rest of the team played with kids, a small group of us met with the village chief and expressed words of grace and prayed for him and his family. He then took us to an open piece of land where he picked up a stick and marched out a ways and stuck it in the ground. He watched his council plant the three other corners--1500 meters square.

I ran to get the team that was still playing with kids and singing with the women. They came walking down to the site holding the calloused working hands of the women or the tender dusty hands of the children. After we prayed over this piece of land and for the village council, I directed all of the team members to shake the hands of the village chief and the council members, I noticed the village elders touched their chests with the hand that shook mine. Moise told me that gesture signifies that they not only take your hand, but they allow you, all of you, into their hearts. It is a serious act of friendship and fraternity. They did this for every team member plus Habib and Moise.

Habib leaned over and said he would not be surprised if the village chief soon became a Christian. Habib continued, if he becomes a Christian, so does the rest of the village. I asked how many people live here? He told me over 3,000. Sometimes, I feel like I'm living in the Book of Acts. I ceased being surprised a long time ago by prevenient grace. But, sometimes, I just can't help it.

UPDATE: Habib returned to the village on Sunday. He reported that the chief and his whole family was in church on Sunday, taking one more step to faith in Christ. Pray for them.

Last night, or I should say, this morning, the Youth in Mission team arrived. They will be in Benin and Togo for the next eight weeks. Pray for Andy, Brittany, Sondra, and Marilyn.

Blessings from Benin,
Matt

 
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