As told by Doug Conkle, a recently retired Alliance international worker who has served in West Africa with his wife, Karen, for nearly 40 years
Karen and I were privileged to serve with the national church, ministering among the agrarian Dogose—one of the largest unreached people groups in Burkina Faso. Following their graduation from Bible school, Pastor Daniel and his wife, Chantel, were assigned by the Alliance district office to be church planters in a Dogose community.
One Sunday afternoon Karen and I stopped by to visit them. We were drinking tea together when I turned to Daniel and said, “I don’t think I have ever heard your testimony.” Here’s what he told me.
Jesus Overcomes Fear
Daniel was born into the Bobomadare tribe and raised in a family of animists. His father was a powerful shaman (witch doctor), and Daniel grew up fearing the spirit world and its powers of retribution. (Animism is the belief that all things, including animals, plants, rivers, mountains, the heavens, etc., have a spirit or soul; these spirits must be appeased.)
One day when he and his brother were at the local farmers’ market, an Alliance lay evangelist told Daniel the good news about Jesus. Excited to hear that Jesus was the One more powerful than the spirits, the two brothers decided that they wanted to follow Him.
Being an obedient son, Daniel asked his father’s permission to follow the Jesus road. “Yeah, if you want to follow this Jesus, that’s OK,” the father replied. So Daniel and two of his brothers began attending the local church plant in their community.
One day, their father asked his sons to visit him at home.
When the three arrived, their father ushered them into his bedroom and closed and locked the door.“This was kind of unusual,” Daniel remarked.
“I called you here today because I see that you’re following this false religion, this one you call Jesus,” the father said. “I’ve asked you to come because I want to let you know that this has brought shame upon our family. You have a choice today.”
At that point, Daniel’s father pulled out a sharpened machete. “This is the choice before you,” he said. “Either you deny this Jesus, or this is the consequence.”
It’s Like Honey
“You know I asked your permission to follow the Jesus road,” Daniel replied. “You gave your permission, and I’ve followed this Jesus. It’s like when you find honey in the bush and you taste it—it’s so sweet and so good.
“If I hadn’t followed Jesus and tasted how sweet and how good He is, then it wouldn’t be a hard decision. It wouldn’t be a decision. But I want to let you know that I’m willing to follow Jesus—whatever the cost!” (When Daniel shared this part of the story, I about fell off my seat. I don’t know if I would have had his courage.)
At this point Daniel’s younger brother got up and left. But Daniel and his older brother remained and courageously faced their father, who backed down and opened the door to let them go.
Daniel continued to follow the Lord after this encounter. He later attended Bible school, where he met his wife, Chantel. We are so grateful that they are now cross-cultural workers among the Dogose people.
Praise God for Pastor Daniel and his brother’s boldness. Please intercede for Daniel and Chantel’s continued boldness, strength, and wisdom as they proclaim the good news in this spiritually dark region.
Read “Words and Wells” for more about Pastor Daniel’s ministry among the Dogose.
“Ordinary People, Uncommon Faith,” written by Doug and Karen Conkle’s daughter, Becky McCabe, chronicles this devoted couple’s legacy of service in West Africa.