The tall, elegant immigration officer stooped down and picked up a book from Reuben’s hand. We were sitting in the immigration office, waiting for our residence visas to be completed, and Reuben was holding a small stack of The Great Hope, which we were planning to hand out to workers in the office.
“The Great Hope. Live with the certainty that all will end well,” the lady read aloud. “Yes, of course it will end well. It just has to.” She then put the book back into Reuben’s hand and started to walk on.
“Would you like to have that book?” I asked her.
“Yes! Thank you!” she replied. And once again, an Adventist book got into the hands of a person working in that immigration office.
The message in The Great Hope, an abbreviated version of The Great Controversy, is well-received here in Benin, and is doing a great work.
A few weeks earlier, I drove along a dusty, bumpy road with a car full of people from the Natitingou church. It was Sabbath morning, and we were heading to Pehonko, a village only one of us had ever seen before. Chango was taking us to his home village to visit a small group of soon-to-be Adventists.
Chango joined the church after reading The Great Hope a year ago, and now he is eager to distribute it to others. He picks the books up from my office, 200 at a time. As he drives his motorcycle taxi around town, he shares the book with receptive customers. He has distributed the book to people in many different parts of town, in different levels of society.
One day, a couple of Chango’s friends from Pehonko visited him. He shared with the couple about the new faith he had found, and they wanted to know more. He gave them a copy of the book that had changed his life, and they gladly accepted the gift. They went home, read the book, and now consider themselves to be Adventists-in-waiting.
When we reached Pehonko that Sabbath morning after driving more than two hours on the miserable road, we found the house of Chango’s friends and sat down on benches they placed under their cashew tree. During Sabbath School, as we were studying the book of James and talking about being refined in trials, the wife shared with us the struggles they are going through since leaving their former church. Their former pastor and friends are shunning them and telling people they have joined a cult. The husband, who works at a school connected with that church, is in danger of losing his job. We encouraged them to remain faithful and to let the Lord purify and refine them through this process. They are committed to following the light they have seen.
After a few hours of sweet fellowship, we left the small group in Pehonko with prayers and more books, including, of course, several copies of The Great Hope for them to share with their friends, neighbors and coworkers. We returned home over the bouncy road, rejoicing for what the Lord has begun to do in that village that previously had no Adventist presence.
Since our return from furlough, we have been confronted with several new realities. The church revival we were seeing when we left seems to have almost entirely cooled off. Some members have left the church or moved away, and a few new members have joined. Sika and Julie, who seemed to have been set free from demons that possessed them, have come under satanic control once again, and it truly seems that their last state is worse than their first. Suzy Baldwin is married and has moved to another town, which changes the dynamic in our team and the church quite a bit. A lot has happened in seven months.
But we are thankful that the work of the Lord is still going forward here. The little group in Tigninti is growing, as is the group in Pehonko. The Monday training program has been going steadily onward, and the faithful attendees are growing in their Christian walk and witness. When we are gone, the training we have done continues to work in the hearts of the trainees, and the books we have distributed continue to preach their salvation message.
This story was originally published at afmonline.org.