An Open Door

2012 February 4

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Dear friends and family,

For almost three years now we have been helping a mother with children at a small village 10-12km south of here. Her husband is gone most of the time and does not take care of his family. Wendy Roberts has been the primary one to take interest in this family, because one of the children in particular was severely malnourished. Over the years, he has grown more healthy because of Wendy's work.

Recently, we have started weekly visits at her house and around 50 neighborhood children gather around to hear Bible stories and to sing songs. Normally we go after Dabgue church, as her village is only about 3km further down the road. Last week, however, a message was sent to inform us that we were not welcome at her place any more and that she did not want us to come. "Is this message true?" we wondered together after the church service was finished. "She didn't seem hostile at all last week when we were there," we remembered.

The decision was made for just Frederick and I to go down that week and check things out. When we talked to the woman, she expressed her concerns. Other people were spreading gossip about her and giving her trouble and she became scared. The chief of the village said, "You have foreigners at your place each week. If trouble happens, you are responsible. They have not come and talked to me yet."

So we happily agreed to return and visit with the chief. Any time a foreigner enters a village to do something more than pass through, it is customary to announce his presence and intentions to the chief. This we had neglected to do.

We brought the matter before God in prayer, asking that His will be done in all of this. These troubles are only complications from the Devil to distract and disrupt the work. We sensed that God was still in control and were not concerned.

After finding the chief not at his home Thursday, Frederick and I finally arrived at his compound to talk with him Friday morning (yesterday). The chief seems to be a kind man and welcomed us warmly. As I explained our mission to him in French, Frederick translated into Nantchere. The end result was his thanking us and saying, "Any time the Word of God comes to this village, I will not hinder it. You have an open door. There are people in this village who are unhappy that you are here. But others are happy. We do not force people. If they want to worship the trees, they can worship the trees. But if people want to come, maybe I can help arrange a place for a church someday. For now, you may meet there under that big tree." Before leaving, we thanked the chief and invited him to visit our meetings sometimes.

Praise God!

Today, swarms of children enthusiastically followed our moto as we drove into the village. More adults came than usual. Even the chief's wife came and listened to the story and singing.

At the end of the service, a man by the name of Joseph approached me. He would like to attend our church. Normally he is busy teaching elementary school Sabbath morning, but he wants to rearrange his schedule so that he can worship with us. He also wants to help with anything he can to set up a church. If we need help transporting benches, he can help. His brother wants to come. "You are teaching things that no other church here teaches, and I want to learn more!" he said.

The chief's wife has been sick for 8 years and came to ask us for help. We pray that we will know what to do, but we do not know a solution at this time.

A cripple boy asked us to fix his crutches. He has outgrown his crutches and they are too short for him. We told him that we would try to get him some more wood to fix his crutches.

Please pray for this new outreach project. We have more open doors than we know what to do with. We desperately need more workers. The work is great, yet we do not know how long we have. Let us work quickly in times of relative peace and ease!

In His service,
Jonathan Dietrich