Long ago as a very young boy I dreamed of taking the gospel to Africa. Honestly, I can’t even tell you why or from where the idea originated. It was just there. As I shared the idea with my maternal grandmother she quickly dispelled any such notion in me. Having a bit of a tendency toward legalism, she strongly encouraged me to spend my efforts getting myself to heaven rather than worrying about folks on the other side of the world. She felt that I would have a hard enough time saving myself let alone trying to “save” others. I’ve since learned that saving myself is absolutely impossible. Christ Jesus is my only hope. My faith is in Him.
This memory from my childhood flooded my mind while in Dano. It’s amazing to me the way that God answers the smallest prayers and thoughts that are centered on goodness and truth even when we might not even openly pray them. He has answered this dream of a prayer in such a simple, yet surprising way. Certain things I pray and pray about and there doesn’t appear to be an answer. Other things are lightly spoken and He brings them to be. This mystery is brought together in my mind in the following two verses:
“Our God is in the heavens. He does whatever He pleases.” Psalm 115:3
“Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4
He hears even our faintest requests of childhood and brings them to fruition. He is mysteriously Sovereign as He weaves our desires into His will.
The trip was filled with new experiences and new friends. I’ll try to convey them in the weeks ahead in concise doses. I’m not known for my conciseness. Today, however, I am a bit under the weather and the ole brain just isn’t functioning fully. And yes, I can tell when my brain is not at full tilt. It’s quite obvious in my case actually. Laura and I have been wiped out from jet lag this time. I came down with a fever, headache and other minor issues upon our return. I think the itinerary did us in a little or it could be our age since the kids are up and about and well. Charlie is actually at a camp in Tennessee. He spent a day at home relaxing and then loaded up with friends for a 15 hour van trip to camp. Go figure.
Overall, the trip was great. Each visit always evokes a sense of “surreality” in me. Like, is this actually happening? Am I really looking up at the same sky filled with the same brilliant stars from the other side of the world? Am I really walking on the rocky soil of West Africa? Some of the rains had already fallen so we were privileged to see the landscape in a much greener garb. It truly was beautiful. We saw the rows and rows of hand cultivated, hand planted millet and corn. It was overwhelming to see all of the agricultural “development” and to realize that it was all done either by human or animal power. So much effort is expended by the Dagara just to produce what they need to eat and survive. They are a hard working people who love the land and love farming.
Andy, Melissa, Elijah and Amalie were in great spirits. It is mind boggling to think that only two years ago we were helping usher Elijah into the Johnson family. Now, he is a handsome young man with a sharp mind and a voracious appetite. We thoroughly enjoyed being with the Johnsons. They are our dear friends and one of only a few families who could put up with a group like the Burnams for more than a week. I am certain that they are experiencing some “Burnam Lag” themselves right now.
The church has now expressed itself in at least 20 different congregations in the Dano area. I visited 5 during our week there and had the privilege of preaching and leading worship at each. Well, leading worship is probably a stretch. They led worship and I gladly “participated”. I played, sang and the Dagara listened intently. I also taught the brothers and sisters there an English word: La. We sang the song “Every Move I Make” at each village and taught them to sing the “La, la, la, la, la, la, la…” line. I figured it was easy enough and also found out through Andy that the word la in Dagara translates to laughter. So, I sang and played and they laughed. Nothing unusual for me. Charlie also showed a great streak of courage and preached for the congregation at Sorian. I was quite proud of him as was Andy. He did a great job. Andy did have some trouble translating some of his vocabulary, however. (Not really.)
It was such an absolute pleasure to be able to be with the Andy in the villages and to see God’s work among them. The growth numerically was obvious. The spiritual growth was also very evident in the congregations we visited. What a blessing it was to be reunited with dear Burkinabe brothers and sisters like Severen and Rebecca and also to meet brand new believers in Christ. What fun!
We deeply appreciate all of your prayers and support. We had enough money to cover our expenses, bless Melissa with a yogurt maker, pay for the spraying of their house for insects and also to finance the translation of the Psalms into Dagara. What a rare privilege – contributing to the translation of a portion of the Holy Scriptures into a language in which it has never existed before. Andy believes the Dagara song writers will especially appreciate the translation of the Psalms. God is awesome and each of you shared in this gift in one way or another. For the glory of God.
Grace and peace. I love you all.