Snake Handling (plus a rapid-fire update)

There’s a lot that has been happening lately in our family and ministry, so I’ll jump right in and give you a “rapid-fire” update.

  1. Last weekend we held our 8th intensive training at the Oikos School, which went very well. My teaching abilities were stretched to the limit as I taught for 3 hours straight on “How to Interpret and Study the Bible.” It was quite a bit more of a technical teaching than I’m accustomed to, but I had put a lot of preparation into it, so it turned out quite well, all things considered. When I teach I always try to do or say something out of the ordinary that the students won’t forget in order to create a “memory hook” that will help them recall the important content in the future. Well, since I was teaching about interpreting the Bible, I figured that I’d start off with an example of grossly misinterpreting the Bible that they’d never forget. I read to them from Mark 16:17-18, which says, “And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” I then told them that Jesus was commanding that we do all these things in order to prove that we are true disciples and that we have faith in Him. I said all this as I opened up a box containing Joshua’s completely harmless Kenyan sand boa and took it out. They didn’t know that it’s harmless, however, and if there’s one thing that nearly all Togolese have in common it’s that they are deathly afraid of any snake! I kept telling them that, in order to prove their faith in Jesus, they had to hold the snake. Sadly, because of the bizarre misinterpretations of Scripture that are all-too-common in churches here, I really think that they half-way believed that I was serious! When I finally put the snake away (much to their relief!) I asked them how I had interpreted the passage. They responded by saying that I had used Jesus’ words to tempt God and force his protection, like Satan did to Jesus when he told him to jump off the temple. They also said that Jesus wasn’t saying that we must hold snakes in order to prove our belief. Overall, it was a great learning tool for them and I think they gained a lot from it. I’m hoping that this vivid memory will help them remember the many tools for proper Bible interpretation that I gave them afterward.
  2. We are still in the hunt for some land where we can build a permanent location for the Oikos School. We have run into two closed doors lately on two different properties, so please be praying that we find the open door soon!
  3. Over the past month, Andrew and I have been working hard to prepare a new curriculum that we will use in our upcoming one-year intensive trainings. Our plan is to target specific people groups and regions to engage potential church planters in a one-year program that will equip them with the tools and knowledge necessary to make reproducing disciples and churches. This would be similar to what we are currently doing, except that it would be done in one year instead of two and it would be based on a curriculum we are creating ourselves that will focus heavily on life transformation and discipleship to Jesus.
  4. There are many exciting things happening in the lives of the Oikos students. On the 7th and 21st of this month, we will be attending baptism services at two churches that have been planted within the past year by two students. These are churches that started in seed form as simple Bible studies under a tree and have blossomed into churches where people are following Jesus together and seeing their lives transformed by Him! Please continue praying for all of the students as they seek to bring gospel transformation to new villages by the good news of Jesus.
  5. The Bible studies with Patrice and Éoda are going very well. We’re about 2/3 of the way through the chronological Bible study, but already they are showing clear signs of faith in Jesus. We believe it’s only a matter of weeks before they make this seed of faith a life-long commitment to follow Jesus as his disciples.
  6. Please be praying for little Ian. He has quite a nasty “Harmattan cold” with lots of congestion in his nose and chest. Because of the incredibly dry and dusty conditions, it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. Because he currently sleeps in our room, neither Tiffany nor I have been getting much sleep lately. He’s been quite a handful during the day too!
    Ian NEVER falls asleep in our arms, but this cold has taken a toll on the little guy.

    Ian NEVER falls asleep in our arms, but this cold has taken a toll on the little guy.


  7. Joshua and I recently explored one of the many mountain (more like hills compared to the Northwest!) ridges in the area and found lots of strange vegetation at the top of a bunch of huge rocks.
    Joshua holding a twirly vine
    Some kind of cross between a cactus and a vine.
    Togo explorers!
  8. And not to be left out, Owen is starting to come out of his shell quite a bit more, as evidenced by the photos! He is starting to greet people in French and is much less shy about saying hello to people he doesn’t know. Around the house with just our family, he is just as spastic and hilarious as ever.
    Crazy Owen!Crazy Owen!

And there you have it! Thanks for catching up with what’s been going on, and thanks in advance for lifting up these prayer requests to the Lord!

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