Lome, Togo – May 18-23
This trip was made by James Cassell and me (Mark Jantzi); our wives, Joanne and Rita, have stayed back at home this time. I was reminded of the times when the men went out to war and the wives stayed home; and yes, we are going out to make spiritual warfare in behalf of the Kingdom of God and not for the kingdoms of this world, which will all become His kingdom in due time. And the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty to the pulling down of strongholds.
I met Jim in Detroit on Tuesday, May 17 and from there we flew together to Paris, France; then taking an Air France flight down across the Mediterranean Sea and then across the great Sahara Desert to Lome, Togo. But enroute, the plane made a brief stopover at Niamey, Niger, a Saharan Country north of Togo and Nigeria. This city is on the Niger River which then flows south into Nigeria to the delta at Port Harcourt. What I could see from the open door of our airplane appeared to be very dry and like a desert.
We landed Wednesday evening at about 5 PM; the airplane recorded a temperature of 82 F. Passport Control, visas and such took about an hour and the fee was rather reasonable ($30 each), good for 7 days. Sister Felicia was waiting for us with her driver and we were taken to her home about 30 minutes drive, but still within the city, amidst much car and motorcycle traffic. The car was parked behind a solid steel security gate and we were taken to the second floor where Jim and I were assigned to our air cooled rooms. After a good supper, we both collapsed in our beds and slept a long restful and badly needed sleep until the next morning.
Thursday was a rest day for us and a time to reset our body clocks and make contact with the sisters back home. Sister Geraldine came in to join us today from Goma, D R Congo and I believe she will be helping us in translation, since this is a French speaking nation. The currency here is the CFA, its value is about 600 per US Dollar and is official currency among 14 other ex-French colonies in Africa. In the evening after supper, we had some fellowship among the “team” and prayed for the upcoming meetings.
On Friday morning, we were taken to the shore (or the oceanside). On the road to this place, we followed a long, high cinderblock wall which we were told is the boundary of Ghana. We turned at the official border crossing gate and then followed a road along the beach for several miles. There is a great shipping port and many small factories on this waterfront, as well as much recreational shore, studded with palm and coconut trees. Many great ships can be seen in the Gulf of Guinea. This coastal area is named the Bight of Benin (the same name as the small country between here and Nigeria) and was once called the Slave Coast, where much human bondage was transacted. We were then taken to a quiet and private vantage point where we could leave the car and actually walk on the shore sands.
So the first meeting started at about 6:30 PM and lasted nearly 3 hours. These meetings will be held just outside of my bedroom window on the veranda. They have installed a set of metal frame tents to protect us from the sun and also the possibility of rain (which we have not yet seen). There is a good attendance at this meeting, nearly 20 adults. They really loved the song “I’ve Got My Mind Made Up”. And they are seriously drinking in the word. I brought a word on the basics of coming into the Kingdom of God as it pertains mostly to the outer court of the Tabernacle of Moses. From the questions raised afterward, I believe that the men understand what they have heard.
Now it is Saturday and we have a full agenda with two meetings scheduled: 10:30 AM and 2:30 PM. The first meeting, I taught much about the basic conditions of the outer court; the second meeting, I spoke much on the coming destruction of not only Babylon but also the outer court. It seems that I can’t get away from the outer court in these teachings. Nevertheless, they are glad to flood us with many questions after each meeting. The second meeting ended at about 5:00 PM and within 30 minutes it had begun to rain. It looks like the rain may last well into the night. The floor of the veranda/meeting place is now very wet; thank God for perfect timing. Jim has been a very good companion with the guitar, looking up bible verses, and helping answer questions.
The last teaching session was Sunday morning, May 22. After praise and worship, I brought a message on the five wise and five foolish virgins, and the foolish facing a closed door at the coming of midnight. My part of the meeting was two hours, half in English and half in French. Afterward Jim prayed and spoke briefly, encouraging them to give a response to what they have heard. Several responded very well. This group size averaged about 15, maybe more than 20 but there was some coming and going during the meeting. After lunch, we had another “unscheduled” meeting that lasted perhaps another three hours. It started with our responding to questions. After this, it seemed that nearly everyone wanted to be prayed for, so we did much praying. The young man, Marc, did an excellent job translating for us, long hours each day. The weather was overcast and cooler today; but by evening the wind and dark clouds began to appear.
The next morning we arose early, packed and were driven to the airport to catch our flight to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. When we got there, we found no such flight listed. It seems that Ethiopian Air had changed our flight (without any email notification) so that our plane became one traveling to Brazil. After more than an hour, they booked us on a flight for tomorrow, Tuesday morning. Since we are still here, we were able to do a little counseling and after supper, we have another mini-meeting with a dozen of those in the household or others who wish to come. Yesterday, we had prayed for a little toddler girl whose left eye was completely swollen shut; today, we saw her almost completely healed.
All in all, we believe that the word came forth in power and in richness and that there was a good response from the people.
Mark and Jim
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – May 24-29
So on Tuesday, May 24, 2016 at about noon, we finally did board a plane for the nearly 6 hour flight to Addis; but not after a considerable ordeal of getting our tickets rewritten and corrections made, undoing errors that Ethiopian Airlines employees had made the previous day. The finality of these corrections were actually not finished until after we landed in Addis at about 9 PM. When we boarded the plane, we found that it had indeed just come from Sao Paulo, Brazil and that it was nearly filled with people from all over South America. This was a very large plane, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the very newest of the jumbo jets.
After about an hour in passport, visa and immigration services, we found Jemal and Fikre waiting for us with a van, which then drove us about a half hour to the hotel. By the time we were checked in and ready to settle for the night it was well after midnight. Addis is another 3 hour time zones ahead of Togo, which makes it 7 hours ahead of us in New York.
The next day, we met our two brothers for lunch at a local café where we settled on a schedule of meetings for our remaining time here. While at the café, the sky opened up with a very windy thundershower, leaving the remainder of the day wet and cold with dark overcast skies.
Thursday is the day that meetings start. In the morning, we were first taken to the “new” NGO office of RBW where the class for “widows” is being held. The new quarters are so much more adequate than the old office that we visited last September; there is actually room here to accomplish their business. We have learned that some of these mothers have already begun a small roadside business of selling corn, coffee and such.
After a little song and praise, I spoke first to the women concerning personal hygiene, disease prevention and food preparation, making a point of the importance of clean hands and having clean water. Then I spoke a little about the story of Ruth, a woman who also found herself as a widow, but overcame in her circumstances and obtained the divine favor of God, to become the great grandmother of the future King David.
On Thursday evening, we were again taken (by a small, old, blue taxi) to the office where Jemal’s home fellowship meets; a much better space than his small home. His wife, small child Abigail and a few other brethren gathered with us. After a time of praise with Jim and his guitar, I brought a word on the world’s conditions before the flood as in the days of Noah. Br Fikre then took us back to the hotel.
Friday morning was another day at the “office” with the widows; in fact this is the very last day of their class. I spoke to the mothers, telling them the story of Esther and the spiritual lessons in it for us today. The women appeared to have been very attentive as they listened to the word. In the afternoon, Jim and I went back to the office where we met with Br Jemal and a few children. With Br Jim’s guidance and teaching, the students managed to assemble the Tabernacle model that Br Herrig had sent here with Jim. One of the little 10 year old girls seemed to already know quite a bit about the history of Moses and the children of Israel.
Saturday morning was the graduation ceremony for the widow’s training class; this being the second class to have gone through this program under RBW. The ten women all arrived attired in their very best traditional clothes, happy and full of joyful smiles. As representatives of RBW, Jim and I were asked to say a few words of encouragement. Two government representatives also spoke briefly. Then certificates of completion were awarded to each participant. After this there was the cutting and serving of the large traditional loaf of wheat bread with traditional coffee and modern soda drinks. The final act after the government men had left was prayer for the women. We had previously asked each one to bring a sample of what they are vending in their business: ears of corn, potatoes, injera, coffee and charcoal. This they held in their hands while we blessed the fruit of their future labors and asked God to prosper them. Before starting another new class, the staff will “job-coach” (monitor and give practical assistance) to these new graduate entrepreneurs.
The last meeting Saturday was held at Br Fikre’s home. He told me that today is a holiday; this is the day that Ethiopia celebrates their freedom from communism. We were taken to the home at the approach of dusk. This is a “new” home for the family and Br Fikre says that in a few days they will be moving yet again. I brought a message on the contrast of darkness and light. I was most blessed when after the word both of the wives spoke and commented, telling me for sure that this end-time kingdom word is being understood and believed. Praise God!
Sunday morning will be our very last meeting with the church of Addis Ababa. When we left the hotel at 9:30 AM, we checked out and took all of our packed luggage with us. This is a gathering of both home fellowships that meet together here at the office Sunday mornings, only a few minutes’ drive from the hotel. There are some that come for this meeting that do not attend the midweek meetings. There is a fair number of children here today so Br Jim had a song and teaching (wise and foolish builder) for them. Then we sang some songs and as I gave a word (the story of Ruth) for the gathering, it seems that most of the children were outside playing. Nevertheless, it was a good spirit and a good meeting. After the word, we prayed for the one man (the security guard) and several of the women, praying in particular for their families.
The meeting was finished and we had accomplished all that we had set out to do, so at noon the two brothers drove us to the airport and sent us off with their blessing. We flew first down to Entebbe, Uganda, then transferred to the KLM flight to Amsterdam, from which we caught the Delta flight back to the states. About 33 hours after we left Addis, Br Jim and I have landed at our respective home airports and are well on our way to our homes with our wives, who have been faithfully praying for us, along with the many other saints.
We appreciate your support and prayers and may God bless you abundantly.
James Cassell and Mark Jantzi
Bro James Cassell’s Comments
Togo: Our time in Togo was indeed ordered of the Lord. The hunger and desire for the Word was refreshing. There were many questions and a very good response at the close of the meetings. They knew God had sent us and insisted we return again.
Addis: Pray for the work in Addis. It is coming together very well. The Word was foundational and many truths were absorbed as a sponge to water. This time was well spent. Glory to God for this precious people and this work.