Pastor Joseph, national director of the Ivory Coast mission, successfully made the trip deep into the Bangolo region on the mission motorcycle to our first church in the village of Guiri. The trail was overgrown. Blockades were encountered all along the mountainous jungle route. He stopped along the way to hear the news from other villages where we had works. Arriving in Guiri, he found the worship structure still standing. Rebel troops and local gangs had taken the benches (as they did in all our churches) and burned them for firewood. As you see in the photo, Christians made temporary benches out of split bamboo, which are not very comfortable to sit on in long services. But they were smiling just to have an opportunity to meet together again for singing and worship. This Sunday was the first time in months for a service such as this. The group numbered 113 adults plus lots of children, a good number for these times. Many ladies are still fearful to walk the trails. Rebel forces used this very pavilion for their headquarters. My heart cries for them, but as you can see by the smile on this sweet lady’s face, this was an exciting day.
No one was preaching the GOSPEL in this region when LaNelle and I moved to Bangolo. The Word changed not only their destinies but their lives. It is so precious to them and meeting together for worship is a real treat. Their village chief, Zoe Gaspard, trusted Christ the morning after our very first evangelistic service in Guiri. He gave land and asked me to build a worship temple on this spot. Eighteen months later he died but left word saying he wanted no “masque” (witchdoctor) dancing at his funeral. His desire was for the church choir to sing and for me to read from the BOOK explaining to everyone where he had gone. I long to see them again, listen to their singing, and watch their excitement when the BOOK is preached and taught.