The Word by the Spirit to the World
by Willard & Yvonne Wagner
We entered The Republic of Benin of West Africa in 1992, upon the invitation of one of their pastors from our neighboring country, Togo. Yvonne and I Immediately began to visit a few very impoverished, but bona fide, Churches in the area of Azove. We found these neglected people very receptive to the Gospel and considered it a challenge to work with such opened-minded and hungry souls who needed Christ. The West Africa Manuel (from Lonely Planet publishers) states: “After Benin (formerly called Dahomey) gained their independence from the French in 1960, they went through five successful military coups, nine more changes of government, and five changes of their constitution. Today, Benin is now being touted as a model of successful democratization in all of Africa. The future of the country looks very bright and there is a renewed optimism among the people.” So, as missionaries believing we needed to “strike when the iron was hot”, we took advantage of this opportunity. Today we have 40 churches and around 4,000 constituents for the IPHC in Benin!
But as in every country, this took a great deal of working with these precious people. We visited Benin no less than eight different times, and each visit was filled with the promise of more people reached with the Gospel, more churches established, and more children being served through People to People Ministries. On one occasion, they transported hundreds of mostly young people by dump trucks to our meetings. We would preach wherever we had an invitation; often that was five different locations a day!
But God’s Word does not return unto us void, and we so appreciate the good ministry we have now in this once neglected country. Please pray for Benin, as there are so many opportunities to reach these dear people with the Gospel. They have been so entrenched in Voodooism and generational witchcraft for many years that only the Message of the Cross could possible deliver them. “For we are not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation, to the Jew first and also to the people of Benin, West Africa” (Romans 1:16, my paraphrase). Please pray also for the Lord to send a full-time, French-speaking missionary to them. We also need your financial support for this country, as it seems their source of supply is slowly being depleted, and it is very difficult for them to meet the criteria required to bring back this revenue. And pray for Yvonne and me, as we find it difficult to visit all of our West Africa countries as we should, since we are still the only missionaries serving these eight countries where we have IPHC presence. So we need your prayers, your ongoing support, and a missionary to provide us the needed help.
Health wise, Yvonne is still struggling with neuropathy (this is, however, an advantage as she receives wheelchair preferential treatment in the terminals). I still have some concern for my heart, but after completing the Enhanced External Counter Pulsation treatment for 35 days, I feel great. My cardiologist reminds me that if we continue our missionary career, he will try to keep me healthy so we can complete our work in West Africa for the Glory of God.
Please accept an early Christmas and New Year’s greetings as you will probably not hear from us until after our annual graduation of West Africa Bible College and the quadrennial in our base country of Nigeria.
Photo Credit: Willard & Yvonne Wagner