If there is possibly one thing greater than the amazing cities in Africa it is their names. Africa boasts of places like Ouagadougou and Addis Ababa. Every city, every village across the great continent is dyed with vibrant sounds and meaning. These cities carry in their names rich and meaningful histories where people are drawn together. Senegal is no exception with unique and beautiful names like Tambacounda and Kedougou.
This month our family left the cool plateau of Dakar, the westernmost point of the African continent, through Fatick, Kaffrine and Bantaco, up into the eastern hill country of Kedougou. For the first time Elise and I got to see the birthplace of the Assemblies of God in Senegal. The same red soil that stained the feet of early missionaries like Talmage Butler, Peggy Lasley and Wilma Hoenes now paints ours. Like our forebears, we traveled wide distances (even sacrificing a tire on the road to Tambacounda) for relationship.
In all my journeys around the world I’ve learned that no matter how massive the language and cultural gaps may be there are core relationships between people that span the distance: brothers and sisters, fathers and sons, husbands and wives. These relationships transcend even the widest tribal lines, whether you live in Kinshasa or Kansas City. Relationships unite people.
For the past two years, Benoit Boubane and I have worked hard to establish a church-planting church in Parcelles Assanies. We’ve seen ups and downs, victories and setbacks mingled in our blood, sweat and tears. We’ve baptized new believers in the ocean and witnessed to city chiefs. We’ve watched the church grow and seen the Family Church expelled from our building, and even in the midst of that we’ve begun planting a second church in another neighborhood.
Elise and I filled our car with family and friends to celebrate with Benoit and his awaiting bride in Kedougou. Over the past few months I learned a little Oniyan to officiate part of the marriage vows in their heart language. The multicultural choir from the Family Church had the people jumping as they sang a song they wrote. The place was packed! Mixed into the crowd full of Bassari people in their homeland were Americans, Senegalese, Nigerians, Beninoise and Togolese celebrating with them.
Because we are united by more than a city name or province. We are united by more than a nationality or color. We celebrated with Benoit and Sophie because the name of Christ transcends language and culture. It surpasses tribal scars and family traditions. We celebrated because marriage is one of the greatest symbols of God’s love for the people made in His image. It carries us from the beginning of time where God joined together Adam and Eve to the great and glorious day when Christ returns for His bride united in His name (Revelation 19.7).
Above all the great names in the world there is a name above all names exalted in the highest place, one great name: Jesus Christ (Philippians 2.9). Jesus is the bridegroom who calls from His heavenly throne to His bride made of men and women from every tribe, people and tongue (Revelation 7.9). We, who are Christians, called by His rich and meaningful name, are His bride and He embraces us in Kingston, Kiev and Kedougou.
Thank you for letting our family be a personal link from the local church to the unreached.