A chariot of fire, golden blazing horses sweeping the man of God into a whirlwind. I remember this story from countless Sunday school classes. The imagery is so rich and profound my ADHD-riddled mind could barely contain itself.
But I fear that as a child my eyes were so busy watching the prophet being swept away in a literal blaze of glory that I missed the passing of the mantle.
This past month, after two years of working with the national church of Senegal, we passed the mantle of the Family Church, the Assemblies of God church in Parcelles Assainies to my associate pastor Benoit. From a small midweek prayer meeting in a home, to a hotel meeting room on Sunday mornings. From a hotel to a house directly on a main road. From a handful of faithful to a growing family of increasingly redeemed and transformed Africans!
Everything we are, everything we love, everything we are called to do is wrapped up in this single image: a healthy national church led by national brothers and sisters. In the urban sprawl of Dakar, in the neighborhood of Parcelles Assainies, there stands a testament to everything God has promised to us as His workmen in the field: a church firmly planted where men, women and children are experiencing the presence of God among the nations.
When we think of Elijah we think of chariots of fire. We see images of Elisha picking up the mantle of his mentor and re-crossing the Jordan. But their story together begins far earlier than that.
In 1 Kings 19 after one of Elijah’s greatest victories against the wicked leadership of Ahab and Jezebel and the spiritual cancer of Baal, we watch as Elijah spirals into the deepest depression of his ministry. Sure he’s about to die, he abandons his servant and wanders into the wilderness. Hardly a victorious ending to an incredible life. In the wilderness God takes Elijah on a spiritual journey, through the desert into the mountains, through the earthquake and the fire. And, as we all know and love, Elijah then hears the still small voice of God. He wraps his face in his mantle and he meets with God.
Most sermons stop there. Most Sunday school lessons fixate on the still small voice and forget to listen to what the still small voice says.
God answers Elijah’s concerns about the spiritual depravity of Ahab and Jezebel by appointing new kings both foreign and domestic.
And then God addresses Elijah’s self-imposed isolation. God zeros in on Elijah’s fear that no righteousness remains in the land. God sends Elijah to find the son of Shaphat to follow him in ministry. Elisha the son of Shaphat will become a prophetic catalyst that will reach further than Elijah could do on his own.
We came to Senegal with a vision of a blue gate opened revealing a man waiting to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We came to Senegal searching for the sons of Shaphat, men and women who will carry the mantle of prophetic ministry into every neighborhood, home and heart in Dakar.
And God brought us Benoit. And on this past Sunday we had the incredible privilege of placing the mantle of ministry on Benoit’s shoulders. We will continue to mentor him and walk with him (there are no chariots of fire on the highways, although there might be some taxis with exhaust problems).
And God has now brought us Jeremié and his family. Together with Benoit we are now praying and walking the land for our next prayer meeting, our next neighborhood, our next church plant.
Thank you for letting us be your personal link from the local church to the unreached. Thank you for helping us create space to find the sons of Shaphat for an increasingly redeemed and transformed Africa!