While I was in Tiassalé, Ivory Coast, I ate lunch with one of the men in the church, Mr. Aka. After the Sunday morning service, both I and one of the pastors accompanying me, asked questions about his spiritual journey. Prior to becoming a Christian, he was a follower of Mahikari, a Japanese religious sect. His mother, a follower of that religion, influenced her children to become involved as well. About 20 years ago, he began living with a woman with an evangelical background. She, too, became involved in the sect.
Ten years ago, the couple moved to Tiassalé. Mahikari doesn’t have a following there. So, they just quit attending any kind of religious service. Eventually, feeling the need to reconnect with God, Mr. Aka’s companion decided to return to an evangelical church. She started attending the Free Will Baptist church. Liking what she heard, she invited her husband to attend with her. He had many questions about Jesus and spent long periods of time talking to Pastor Emmanuel of the FWB church. Mr. Aka became convinced of the truth about Jesus and salvation found only in Him.
The problem was, he was scared. Three family members left the sect at different times; each one met with unfortunate situations. One family member even died a sudden death. Mr. Aka was afraid of what might happen to him. However, his conviction about his need for Christ continued to grow. It became so strong, he stepped out in faith and became a Christ-follower. He said, contrary to what happened to his other family members, he received immediate peace and happiness. He married his companion of nearly 20 years and both were baptized this past January.
IM’s partnership with the Association of FWB churches in Ivory Coast allows us to plant churches like this one that are reaching the lost. The Bible Institute we help support in Ivory Coast trains pastors like Emmanuel who was able to answer Aka’s many questions. The Tiassalé FWB church is in a building project. The walls are up, but they don’t have money to put a roof on. The Ivory Coast partnership is providing the funds so they will have a place to worship (they are currently worshiping under a makeshift shelter).
The Association of FWB Churches now has 134 churches and more than 10,300 people in attendance. Our continued partnership allows them to do more and do it quicker.