Feature

The Light on a Hill

Pushing Back the darkness in Burkina Faso

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Many years ago, a group of Christians came to my village on the top of the hill. I have been asking people who they were, and they told me you were one of them.” This woman had insisted that I meet with her, even though there were other patients ahead of her at the small clinic in Burkina Faso that I help to run with my colleague, Jetty Stouten from CAMA Zending of the Netherlands. “I am not sick,” she said, “but it is important to talk to you.”

I thought she, like so many others, probably needed money for food or medicine. But I soon learned that what she needed was for me to harvest a seed that had been planted in her heart two decades earlier.

Rocky Ground, Fertile Soil

A younger man with her knew my name and began speaking to me in Bobo Madare, one of the 68 language used in Burkina. He said that he was a Christian in one of the many Alliance churches here in the city of Bobo-Dioulasso. He told me that this woman was his oldest sister from the village of Koro and really needed to speak to me. I then took them into my consultation room so we could talk in private.

When we were seated, the woman, named Dafra (a fetish name), began to tell her story, beginning with the group of Christians who had come to her village.

I told her I remembered. I had been asked by the elders of a church in Bobo to drive out to this village, which was on top of a hill, where we all had a church service. One Sunday morning, instead of going to church in Bobo, we piled into my vehicle and took off for Koro, about eight miles away. One cannot get to the top by car or bike. You must walk up the hill: bicycles, wood, water and food must be carried up the rocky trail.

Our small group of Christians walked up the hill, greeted the chief and found a nice place overlooking the African savanna. One of the men with us who organized this trip had come from this village and was very burdened for its people. There was no church, no witness for Jesus Christ, but there was a big alcohol problem: the villagers made homemade beer and began drinking at 10 o’clock in the morning.

That Sunday morning, many years ago, we began singing songs in the Bobo Madare language, and a small crowd gathered. After an hour or so, we again greeted the village chief and asked him and the elders to come to our church service in Bobo for Easter. To our surprise, they agreed. This was the beginning of pushing back the darkness in the village of Koro on the hill.

At the Easter service, the village elders were seated in the best chairs near the front, where they heard the gospel for the very first time. Then they had a meal together with the whole church and were driven back to their hilltop village. After this, the church and the missionaries built an Alliance church in the fields below the village.

Grace, Hope and Joy

What does this have to do with the woman in the clinic? Dafra was one of the people watching our service from a distance. She told me she had liked the songs and saw peace and joy on the faces of those singing. She did not stay, as she was on her way to the beer-drinking courtyard. But all these years she had thought about that scene and had talked about it with her younger brother, who was now a follower of Jesus.

“Today I want to be a Christian!” Dafra said to me in my consultation room, more than 20 years after that morning service on the hill. She prayed the prayer of salvation, and I introduced her to one of the Alliance pastors on staff. Needless to say, her brother was elated!

Dafra can neither read nor write, but she is now taking baptism classes. “What are you going to take as your Christian name?” I asked.

“Maybe Grace, Hope or Joy, because that is what I have in my heart!” she replied.

Dr. Gary Benedict, president of the U.S. C&MA, often reminds us of the importance of “pushing back the darkness.” Every day international medical workers with The Alliance are pushing back wherever God Himself has called us to work and be used by Him to help heal the body and save souls: in the United States, Europe, Asia and here in Africa. One by one, it is up to each of us to do the job. “‘You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden’” (Matt. 5:14).

‘What I Need . . .’

Some weeks are pretty much the same: patients come in with AIDS, malaria, pneumonia or many other problems. However, there are days or weeks that jump out because they are different. Several months ago, the nurses were all busy working with patients in their consultation rooms. Suddenly, the pharmacy assistant called my name, telling me to come quickly.

The next thing I knew, a large African woman grabbed my hand and took me to the courtyard beside the clinic where there are rows of rooms housing many different families. As I was pushed into the very last room, I saw a woman on the cement floor with a newborn baby at her feet, the cord still attached! I ran back to the clinic, grabbed gauze, forceps and gloves and hurried back. Soon we had the cord cut, the baby wrapped in a clean cloth and the mother sitting up in a corner. The husband was outside, and I was told he was not happy because he had another baby girl and he had wanted a boy.

Two hours later, Jetty Stouten and I walked over with some baby clothes and other small gifts. A few days later, the woman came into the clinic to thank us. Because she could read French, we gave her a copy of a list of Scripture quotations on the importance of being a woman of God.

That same afternoon I noticed a young boy looking at John 14:6 displayed on the waiting room wall, in five languages: “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”

When I came out again to call in my next patient, the youth did not wait his turn but came up to me and pointed to the Scripture. “Is that really true?” he asked. “If so, that is what I need—I need Jesus!” I took him right into my consultation room, shared the gospel with him and gave him a Bible.

These are just a few of the many stories that Alliance international medical workers can tell you. They are played out in “real time” repeatedly every day in many nations. If you give to the Great Commission Fund in your Alliance church, you have a part in sharing the gospel with these people around the world. To you—on behalf of those who hear the “words of life”—I say thank you and God bless you!

—Peggy Drake

Past Alliance Life Issues

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