What had been just a ribbon of sludge across the road on the way to the village is now a mass of watery mud covering the road between the bushes. Are we blocked? Is it now too deep? Should we try to carefully creep ahead? What if we sink in a ditch instead? A motorcycle passes, rushing brazenly on into the murky mass, intent on making goal. The motor splutters and dies and it sinks underwater, its tires stuck in mud beneath what had seemed to him a shallow puddle. Two women, however, make each step a scout carefully finding a way through the muddle.
The road we traveled for so many years every Sunday out to Tiepogovogo for church was always a challenge. Every time a heavy rain came it would carry away loose dirt, leaving rocks exposed and jagged trenches that only got deeper with time. Sometimes driving felt like playing a tense video game.
The first Sunday that we were back in Côte d’Ivoire last month we were eager to visit that church and the people there that mean so much to us. Glenn was even asked to preach, since the pastor was elsewhere that week. Fortunately, we had been loaned a Toyota that could handle bush roads. We loaded the car with the pastor’s wife and kids, dear friends of ours, and took off.
It had rained hard that night, and a flash flood had begun to cover the road, but not as badly as the time we remembered when we had watched the motorcycle die as it unwisely dove in. (The next Sunday we heard from the pastor that it had become completely impassable by then!).
So Glenn worked that illustration into his message. The printed Nyarafolo Scriptures (the NT+OT portions) are now available, and so much hangs on whether the people will actually use them. We know of some other language Bibles that have ended up mostly left in their shipping cartons, and that is not the desired outcome!
A priority is inciting a hunger to be able to access the Word personally. For those who never attended school (and no more than 10% of that ethnic group have been able to do that) it means learning to read. Those who did attend even a few years of school learned to read in French, the national language, and need to transfer those skills to reading their mother tongue. Is the hard work worth the outcome?
Yes, it is! For those who want to know Truth, especially those who are on the “Jesus Road,” the Scriptures are their guide to walking that Road. The Word points out the dangers that lurk and how to avoid them, as well as giving directions for doing what is right and in line with the Master’s goals for us.
Just like the motorcyclist who took his chances and just plunged into the murky flood, believers who pay no attention to the signposts that the Lord has left us in his Word are heading into disaster. But if you know, step by step, the right way forward and follow it, all is well.
When the message was over, the oldest man in the Tiepogovogo congregation, Fulokuo, stood up to give a comment. “When we were young,“ he said, “there was no Bible here. We were told that in order to have anything go well in life, we had to keep on sacrificing chickens (to the territorial gods). Now we have the Word, so we have left all those sacrifices behind to follow Jesus. As my friend Sikatchi has said, if a Nyarafolo now does not go to heaven it is because they choose to ignore that Word. So pray that many Nyarafolo – including the women and children – will follow Jesus, that they will get their Bibles and learn to know him. I myself cannot yet read, but I will get a copy and try to learn!”
A carton of the Scriptures was on the podium, and after the service there was a line of men and women eager to get their very first copy of this Holy Book. May many more also benefit from this treasure that is sweeter than honey to our souls!
In Michigan and elsewhere we have been experiencing flash floods as well, with all the dangers they bring with them. We’ve seen freeways inundated with water, cars floated over to the side. For me it is now a reminder of the way I need to both trust my Lord’s protection and follow his instructions – not rushing ahead into waters covering the way forward, but waiting for guidance, and listening to what his Word has already told me to do.
The decrees of the LORD are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
(Ps. 19:9b-11 NIV)