Joyce and I spent four years on a mission field in West Africa. Love for God, Jesus, and people took us there.

When it began, the work did not comply with an unwritten government ordinance. This requirement was essential. Upon learning of the ordinance, we earnestly tried to comply. Because of our ignorance and some influential opponents, our work was completely stopped. For six months we could not visit the Christians, and congregations were not to meet. Those were painful times.

When God resolved this matter, we immediately began a preacher/teacher training school. Administration, writing materials, teaching, and problems consumed my time.

Late in our stay, our house was robbed. Mission funds were stolen. The authorities commandeered me and my car. I drove authorities to the homes of friends and watched from the car as they interrogated them. That experience devastated me!

I left that mission field exhausted and overwhelmed by my mistakes. I wondered if God could use anything I did for a lasting blessing. I felt a deep sense of failure.

In the early years after returning, we heard that major changes occurred within the church. Four years after leaving, a friend (a fellow missionary) and I returned for a three-week visit. We searched for and visited with congregations that we had known.

After spending most of a day visiting with congregations, we arrived in a village just before dark. A few days prior we sent word that we would come for a visit. We arrived to find a bar standing where the church building had been. Disappointment grew!

A man we did not know approached our car, identified himself as a Christian, and asked us to follow him to the building. We walked among small farms along a path lined with palm fronds and white washed stones. The path ended at a small building filled with Christians. They had waited for more than an hour for us to arrive.

At the end of a joyful assembly, a converted "witch doctor" told about the things he renounced to be a Christian. He lost his prestige, his friends, his influence, his money, and his wife. He asked, "Please take this message to the people who sent you. If you had not come, the people you taught could not have taught me. I would not be a Christian. Please, please thank them for sending you."

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 14 November 1999

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