by Willard & Yvonne Wagner
There are some who say that the word “retreat” should not be used in the language of the evangelistic Christians, and that we should constantly be in an advancing mode. Whereas we do not specifically see the word “retreat” in the Bible – at least in the King James Version – we do see words like: retire, rest, and restore. Jesus called His disciples to come apart for a little while, for a time of prayer, rest, and relaxation. (And if those in ministry do not come apart, they will virtually come apart.) The Old Testament speaks of retreating to review for a season, to be refreshed, and perhaps even receiving some new direction in life’s battles. Isaiah says, “Come my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee; hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation is past.” Isaiah 26:20
Most sports have a “half-time” during the games – for rest and to give a pep talk to improve the athletes’ performance. When Yvonne and I thought we had reached half-time, we had finished the 9th hole of golf, or we were in the third quarter of the basketball game, we began contemplating what the Lord would have us do next in West Africa. For one, there are a few loose ends that should be tightened, and the ministry more solidified for its effectiveness in the future; our five Bible Colleges need to receive some ongoing funding from friends abroad; there must be more church planting in some of our eight countries; and it seems that many of our pastors need to see their local churches revitalized. Evangelism is a must, we are living in the last days, and what must be done, must be done with haste, and in the spirit of excellence.
We have just completed 58 years of marriage, and both of us are in our early eighties, so there was a point in time when we thought of retiring. But how and when would we do that? Our doctors proclaim us to be very healthy for our age. There is presently no one prepared to take our place in West Africa, and if we could train personnel, it would take a few years to do so, as we are dealing with eight countries and some 40 years of ministry by IPHC. (We have personally been serving there now for 27 years.) So why should we quit now? We most definitely want to finish the course the Lord has for us.
Our ongoing strategy is this: recruit more prayer warriors; solicit more funds for our personal budget and for the projects in West Africa; engage more of our IPHC people to visit these countries (so often war torn and neglected); learn to work smarter, not harder; and as my father said to us at his death bed, 17 years ago, “Carry on the work, son, just carry on the work.” At 80 years old, it will be a challenge like that given to Moses, and to Joshua. There is no equation here, but the Lord has given us revitalization within our own lives, to do just that – “carry on the work.” There are churches yet to plant in Nigeria; there is a renewal that must be done in the Republic of Benin; and in Togo – with their 135,000 members and 950 churches – there is a new college to be built with proposed date of dedicating this new facility around Easter 2017. Ghana has done so very well under their new leadership, but there is an interest to enlarge the ministry there – especially in the Capital of Accra. Cote d’Ivoire seems to have been neglected after their coup d’état some eight years ago, but they are in complete recovery and our IPHC churches are giving some encouraging reports with their congregation and the ever-growing Bible College. The two most worn torn countries of Liberia and Sierra Leone are slow in their recovery, but the Lord is alive there, and reports are encouraging. Phillip Gschwend and I will be going to Monrovia, Liberia in October to start the physical construction of the church in honor and memory of the late Moses King, who actually donated the funds for this project. The Liberians are anxious for us to come and it is always a joy to visit those who are constantly craving to learn and grow in the Lord.
Sierra Leone is yet struggling, as the civil war left the country devastated, but God is not impaired and He has brought our main church and the three schools through so many trials these past years. They need our prayers and assistance, as the funding for Sierra Leone has not been very promising these past few months, and these people are really facing serious needs just to stay alive and to provide their children with a good education through our schools there.
This is our half-time report. We trust you will like it, and continue to stay with us in prayer and support. We would like to ask you to consider helping the schools in Sierra Leone and the struggling church that meets in the school buildings on Sundays, as they do need our assistance just to maintain. Be assured of our prayers and continued love for the help you have given us these past many years in West Africa. Well, we again hear the clairvoyant call; “Let the Games Begin”, so will leave you at this point and continue in our ministry, in hopes to hear from you, our faithful prayer warriors and supporters.
Photo Credit: Willard & Yvonne Wagner