Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Nothing Worth Doing Is Ever Easy

Wade and Kate McHargue were informed by the Youth for Christ organization that their particular placement in Mansoa, Guinea Bissau, is one of the most difficult assignments YFC has in the entire world.  The turnover rate for missionaries in West Africa averages 3 years because it is such a difficult field for an American to work in.  Living conditions can be grueling, good healthcare is nearly nonexistent, frustrations can be discouraging to the point of giving up, and relationships with local residents and government officials can sometimes be severely strained.  But God has granted an amazing amount of favor to this young couple in the eyes of those who have the authority and the power to make life miserable for them or even force them out.  The Muslim mayor of Mansoa gave her blessing for them to do the work they came to do, with no hidden agenda.  In spite of Wade's candor with everyone about why they are there and what they hope to accomplish, with few exceptions they have been welcomed and encouraged.  His efforts to build relationships with men at the local military base were strained at first, but as he continued coming back on a weekly basis they have warmed to him and now even look forward to him coming and bringing them messages of news about their worth in the eyes of the one true God.  His visits to the hospital to pray for the sick were initially met with suspicion, but his genuine compassion for the suffering, and his faithfulness in returning every week, have brought about a respect that is hard to explain apart from God's favor in an animistic and Muslim culture.  The weekly radio program that airs every Friday evening is drawing more and more listeners across the country, and each week they get phone calls from people wanting more information, wanting to meet with one of the men to talk about Christianity, or thanking them for bringing the news of hope and salvation in Christ that is changing their lives.

In every society and culture there are obstacles to the gospel message.  In the United States one of the biggest obstacles is our affluence, as well as our tenacious grip on independence.  We have so much that we can easily be blind to our needs.  And we are convinced that we can do it ourselves if we just try hard enough and get enough breaks.  But in spite of how hard we work, how much we accomplish, how polished and together we look on the outside, it is only the power of Almighty God that can remove our guilt and free us from the power of sin in our lives.  In a culture like that of West Africa, where everyone except those in high official positions of power are deprived and impoverished by nearly any standard, there are fewer masks to hide behind and fewer ways to be deceived about one's need for a savior.  But there are still plenty of ways for people's lostness to express itself destructively, and one of the most common in this country is alcoholism thanks to the perversion of one of God's gifts to the people of this region.

The cashew tree is as common in Guinea Bissau as a scrub pine along the east coast of North America.  The people harvest the nuts for their own use, but due to corruption in the government there is little exporting which could potentially benefit the hungry people in this country with a sizeable profit that would help ease their constant struggle to find food.  And, as if that situation weren't bad enough, each cashew nut has a little fruit attached which contains a sweet juice that ferments naturally in the extreme heat of the climate.  So, the trees that could potentially bring an increased level of well-being to the populace, is instead being used primarily as a source of self-destruction among the men of this country.  Cashew wine is the drug of choice, and the clutches of addiction are deeply embedded in the husbands and fathers of the families in this land.

But God is raising up men whose lives are testimonies to the power to be delivered from that prison of addiction through a relationship with Jesus Christ.  Counting the cost, willing to stand against persecution, and desiring to make a difference for their families, their neighbors, and their nation, there are men saying yes to the call to be trained as pastors and evangelists.  The School of Discipleship at the center has now graduated 2 classes of men who are currently serving full time as pastors or evangelists, trusting God for their support since many have no paying jobs.  A third class will begin in June.  Wade has made the decision to limit class size to no more than twelve men, in order that they might be able to maximize opportunities for personal mentoring during the 3-month period when school is in session, as well as building of relationships among the class members themselves. 
Students from first two classes meeting together with visiting
Americans.  (Photo borrowed from McHargue Family website.)
From a scrubby 15-acre parcel of land, through the vision, faith, and hard work of a dedicated couple with a clear focus and commitment to bring the Kingdom of God to Guinea Bissau, has arisen a thriving ministry through which lives are being transformed.  Shortly after the property was purchased and dedicated to the Lord, before the buildings were even up, someone told Wade that word was going around that the path of the serpent spirit had been cut off when the bronco bought the land.  The local witchdoctor can no longer get the serpent spirit to cross the bulagna from the river to the village where he lives.  Praise God!

1 comment:

  1. that last bit about the serpent spirit gave me goosebumps.